Monday, 21 June, 2010 1:40 PM
to be honored by the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame
and Barkowicz also inducted
Credit: National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame
Inductees for the National Polish-American Sports Hall of
-- The richness of Polish sports
and culture will be celebrated at the National Polish-American Sports
Hall of Fame induction on June 24, in Troy, Michigan. The NPASHF
induction ceremony will honor former Philadelphia Phillies manager
Danny Ozark, swimming champion Kristy Kowal and tennis pro Peaches
Ozark, who grew up in
Buffalo and was a World War II veteran, played in the Brooklyn Dodger's
system for many years.
As a Major League Manager,
Ozark led the Phillies to National League-East titles in 76, 77
and 78. He was also a longtime coach for the L. A. Dodgers.
Former Philadelphia Phillies
slugger Greg Luzinski will present for the deceased Ozark. Ozark
passed in Vero Beach, Florida in 2009 and is survived by his wife
Ginny and two children, Dwain and Darlene. Luzinski was inducted
into the NPASHF in 1989.
Ozark, like Casey Stengel
was known for his humor and fractured English. His most famous saying
was, "Half this game is 90% mental."
Detroit native son and
veteran announcer, Tom Paciorek, is scheduled to emcee. He was awarded
a sports Emmy for his Chicago White Sox and Washington National's
baseball broadcasts. Ozark was one of his baseball coaches when
he played for the Dodgers.
NPASHF Chairman Jim Conrad
said, "We will also be inducting swimming champion Kristy Kowal
of Reading, Pennsylvania and Hamtramck, Michigan native and tennis
great Peaches Barkowicz."
Kowal was named NCAA
Woman of the Year in 2000. Besides being an NCAA Champion from the
University of Georgia, she won the Silver Medal in the 200-meter
breaststroke at the Sydney Olympic Games. Kowal was also an academic
Barkowicz, was a junior
tennis sensation under famed coach, Jean Hoxie. She won the Orange
Bowl title four years in a row, 1963-1966. Along with her sister
'Plums', they had great celebrity after their appearance on the
September 13, 1967 national "Mike Douglas Television Show".
Barkowicz had a long time professional career on the pro tennis
Past NPASHF Chairman
and University of Michigan football player, Nick Frontczak said,
"We expect a full house with such a great line-up."
At the recent Polish-American
Night at Comerica Park in Detroit, before the A's-Tigers game, former
Tiger great Willie Horton reminisced. He told a radio audience how
honored he felt when presenting Paciorek into the National Polish-American
Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. Said Horton, "I remember how great
the mushroom soup was that evening. I love Polish food. Tom and
I were teammates in Seattle. He had good years in Seattle. He always
helped keep the clubhouse loose. He is a great baseball broadcaster,
Horton, who works as
an advisor for the Detroit Tigers is currently on a book tour.
The Honorable Paul Paruk,
Director of the NPASHF said, "Tickets are still available and
we promise a great evening with great food. We will also be having
a golf outing on July 23, and Evan 'Big Cat' Williams will be demonstrating
the art of the long drive." For tickets to either event 313-407-3300.
Dinner guests will also
be able to browse the Hall of Fame and Museum exhibits before and
after the induction dinner.
Danny Ozark during
World War II
Returning to Buffalo,
N.Y. after WWII in the winter of 1945, gave Ozark very little time
to prepare himself for baseball. "I was in the Army, and we
landed in Europe on D-Day."
When asked to describe
what it was like to be there on D-Day, Ozark replied, "Well,
it was I guess, the way a lot of people ask me, and the best thing
I probably said was, 'My underwear was very dirty and I didn't have
a chance to change it for 2 weeks.' We were scared like everyone
else, but we were young kids and a lot of that stuff didn't bother
us. Once you've seen death and people dying slowly, things like
that stay in your memory. I can still visualize guys drowning after
getting out of LCT's (landing craft tanks), because the water was
deeper than they anticipated. Some of the guys that went down with
their 60lb's of equipment drowned and we never saw them again."
As for how Ozark received
the Purple Heart, he explained, "I received a Purple Heart
for shrapnel wounds off of an artillery shell. The other rough action
we were in was the Battle of the Bulge. They had a battlefield hospital
and then I spent time in Antwerp while the bulge was finishing towards
us. I remember they had a giant shipping depot and they had giant
docks where all of our equipment came in. It was massive. Ralph
Houk was at the Bulge, but we never talked about it."
Spring Training. "When I got home in December 1945 and as my
brother didn't go into the service, I was able to play basketball
with him until spring training. He worked me hard. I got my legs
in better shape than I had them before, but I never got to throw
or anything like that living in Buffalo (in the winter). I was three
years overseas. I was just happy to be home and safe from the war."
(Raymond Rolak is
a past NPASHF Chairman)