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Local Sports News

Wednesday, 7 July, 2010 1:20 AM

Baseball and Sports Excellence Celebrated at DSBA Luncheon

Photo courtesy of courtesy of Rolco Sports Network

Baseball ambassadors, Greg Luzinski, Raymond Rolak and Tom Paciorek spoke at the National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame luncheon event to honor the 2010 inductees.
by Jeff Weiser
Rolco Sports Network


DETROIT -- Baseball and Broadcasters teamed up to celebrate the induction of the 2010 class of the National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame. The Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association monthly luncheon meeting hosted the event at the Hockeytown Café. It was the Chicago White Sox connection that highlighted the presentations.

The luncheon focused on the achievements of the inductees. All in attendance were enthusiastic about celebrating the excellence put forth by the 2010 NPASHF class, Danny Ozark, Kristy Kowal and Jane ‘Peaches’ Bartkowicz.

Kowal, of Reading, Pennsylvania was both an NCAA Champion and Olympic Medal winner. Besides her athletic success, Kowal graduated with academic honors from the University of Georgia, School of Education and currently is an elementary teacher in her hometown. The multiple times All-America was NCAA Women of the Year in 2000.

Ozark was celebrated not only for leading the Philedelphia Phillies to three straight NL East titles in the 70’s, but also for his famous fractured English. Ozark, who passed away at 85 last year, had been retired and living with his wife Ginny, in Vero Beach, Florida. He had a very long career in professional baseball, starting with the Dodgers.

Junior tennis sensation, ‘Peaches’ Bartkowicz, was noted for all her International Championships including the 1964 Women’s Jr. Wimbledon title. She won three medals at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, (demonstration sport). She also was one of the pioneers to elevate the women’s professional tour. She won the Florida Orange Bowl title four years in a row in the 60’s.

Kowal regaled the audience with the retelling of just missing gold at the 2004 Olympics in Sydney by only a touch. She kept everyone smiling as she highlighted her mothers efforts (Donna) on making the best stuffed cabbage east of Philadelphia. She reminisced how teammate Amanda Atkins helped her excel by pushing her harder in practice.

Former White Sox broadcaster Tom Paciorek kept the audience lively with baseball tales and stories of dugout snacks, both prudent and clandestine. Paciorek exclaimed boldly, “I am 1,000 % Polish and proud of it.” He told stories of the Vero Beach Polish-American Social Club and the Polka concerts by the Jimmy Sturr Orchestra.

“I learned how to play first base from Danny Ozark when I just came up to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1973,” said Paciorek.

Greg ‘Bull’ Luzinski another former White Sox slugger, shared his best ‘Wimpy’ Paciorek stories with voracious hamburger eating anecdotes. Luzinski gave a running account of where the best burgers could be found in Chicago near old Comiskey Park and in Polish-Town on Milwaukee Avenue.

Paciorek amused the group with Tiger Stadium stories also. He started the narrative of how former DSBA member and Detroit Tiger broadcaster Larry Osterman got knocked out. While announcing the game on television, Osterman got flattened after being struck in the forehead with a foul ball. Bill Freehan was his broadcast partner and it was his first game. Freehan was overcome with so much air time to fill with the accident, he never did another broadcast. Paciorek added with a smile, “Ernie Harwell always thought that the booth behind home plate without a screen should come with combat pay. You could get shell shocked in there from all the serious foul balls.”

Past DSBA Presidents, Ken Kal, and Raymond Rolak kept the roundtable luncheon spirited with hockey stories and baseball memories of old Tiger Stadium.

Kal, the radio voice of the Detroit Red Wings, told of the saga of George Eichorn being the producer for the unique radio presentations of Detroit sports announcer Ron Cameron. “I only did it for a year,” said Eichorn with a wink. “I got to talk to Howard Cosell though, that was an issue,” he added. Cameron was also known for his Florida restaurants with Dick Vitale. Eichorn received a proclamation from the NPASHF.

At the back table, Rolak spoke on how Stan Musial could keep a crowd entertained and awed with his harmonica concerts. “People forget that Stan was the General Manager for the 1967 World Series winning St. Louis Cardinals. Of course, he had a lot of input for the 1968 Cardinals, which impacted the Detroit Tigers,” said Rolak. Musial was the first inductee into the NPASHF in 1973.

Rolak urged Paciorek to give his Chicago Connies Pizza chronicles. Paciorek needed no further prompting as he enthusiasticly said, “We used to hide Connies Pizza’s in the umpires’ room at old Comiskey. Five or six of the big pies, thick and very Chicago style, and loaded. As long as we left one (emphasizing one), for the umpires post game snack, the custom was accepted and continued. If you weren’t playing, you could pop in and out and get some pizza. It was the third inning of a long ago and very forgotten game and the batboy poked his head in and whispered, Wimpy they want you to pinch hit for Kittle (Ron Kittle), he’s got a migraine. Man, I had a Connies in my hand, (gesturing with his index finger and thumb, spread to the maximum), this is annoying. I go out, look at Kittle, and he just puts his head down. I am snarling. I get my bat and helmet. Again, I look at Kittle, he looks down……I walk up to the plate, and just like that, and WHOOSH, ….strike one. Before you can blink….WOOSH again and WOOSH a third time. Strike two and STRIKE THREE. I walk back to the dugout throwing my helmet and bat. I go right up to Kittle….and I say…..Kittle, you could have done that.” The receptive listeners roared with amusement and appreciation.

First time visitors marveled at the sports museum qualities of the luncheon location. Paciorek’s younger brother, a Los Angeles based actor, Si Paciorek said, “This is a great Detroit attraction. You could spend hours here at Hockeytown looking at the displays and sports history. I am coming back.”

Jeff Weiser is a Michigan-based sports producer.


Photo courtesy of DSBA

Danny Ozark, Kristy Kowal and Peaches Bartkowicz were this years NPASHF inductees.




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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.