Allied News Sports Staff
MERCER COUNTY AREA —
The Mercer County Hall of Fame will induct 12 new members at its 66th anniversary banquet Saturday at the Park Inn by Radisson, near West Middlesex. The banquet is sold out as always.
Inductees with ties to the Allied News area are: Bill Bestwick, Doug Butler, Dave Palmer, Blase Iorio and Joe McMullin (posthumous). Other to be enshrined are: Bob Gruber, Andrea Jackson, Sue McLaughlin, Phil O’Mahen and Rande Stottlemyer, Mary Joe Vodenichar-Staunch and Steve Klaric (posthumous).
Former Pirates announcer Lanny Frattare, the “Voice of the Mercer County Hall of Fame” will return as master of ceremonies.
Speakers include former Sharon High and NFL standout Marlin Jackson and Cleveland Indians broadcaster Matt Underwood. The banquet is sponsored by Erme Distributors, Hermitage, with co-sponsorships from Cottonwood Associates and ComDoc, where former Lakeview High great Gordy Opitz (2012 inductee) is president.
Following are sports bios of Allied News area inductees:
Doug Butler was a tremendous all-around athlete at Grove City High School and scholastic and collegiate standard-bearer in the sport of track and field.
At Grove City, from where he graduated in 1973, Butler shined in football, basketball, cross country and track. He established the school record in the 880-yard run (1:56.7) and the District 10 mark of 1:58.0 that lasted for more than a decade. He was the Class B state champion in the 880 in 1972 and ’73, and runner-up in the mile his senior year.
He was a two-year letterman in basketball, but after playing football for two years, he turned to cross country and finished third in the state in Class B in 1972. He was the lone member of the GCHS team that year after he petitioned the board of education to start the program.
He won the Jiggs Wolford Award from the school for track his senior year.
He went on to Bucknell University where he competed in indoor and outdoor track was well as cross country. He was an NCAA Division I All-American in 1976 as part of the 4X800 relay team. He was NCAA qualifier in the 800 (1:52.7) and had a personal indoor best in the mile (4:09.5).
After college he participated in volleyball and softball in the military, winning several league championships. He served as a player-coach some years in volleyball.
He is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and a life-long golfer.
WILLIAM R. BESTWICK
Bill Bestwick was an outstanding athlete at Sharon High and a long-time coach out of Grove City High School, who also helped guide many young people throughout his career as a teacher at George Junior Republic.
Bill was a standout football player at Sharon, from where he graduated in 1965. In his senior year, he set a single-game school record by completing 18 passes against Butler High School. He was also the last player in Mercer County to dropkick an extra point, turning the feat against Ellwood City in 1964. He was co-captain of the Tigers team that season.
He also was an outstanding golfer and three-year letterman at Sharon.
He went on to the University of South Carolina and later graduated from Slippery Rock University in 1973. He played one year of football in college.
He played American Legion baseball for three years, helping his team win two league titles. He played softball for 14 years as part of the Shenango Valley Church League, Youngstown Fast-Pitch League and Grove City Slo-Pitch League during that span.
He had a long and illustrious coaching career for 27 years. He served as a head basketball (2 years) and baseball (3 years) coach at George Junior Republic; assistant football (4 years) and head football (5 years) coach at Grove City High; and assistant football coach at both Grove City College (7 years) and Westminster College (6 years).
He served as a radio color commentator for football and basketball for WWIZ for two years and organized and ran the invitational table tennis tourney for GJR students for 30 years.
He has been a board member of the Mercer County Hall of Fame for 17 years and currently serves as first vice president and secretary of the Induction Committee. He also served on the Grove City Civil Service/Police Commission.
An avid golfer he has posted three holes-in-one. He also is a standout racquetball player and competes in local tournaments in singles and doubles competition.
He has been a member of the Mercer County Coaches Association, West Penn Coaches Association/Pa. Scholastic Football Association, NCAA Coaches Association and National Football Foundation.
Blase Iorio is a former Hickory High multi-sport star who went on to a superb career as a baseball star at Slippery Rock University.
At Hickory from 1964-68, he played 4 years in football and two years in basketball and track. In football, he was a 3-year letterman and named to the All-County team in 1966-67.
During that time from 1964-68 he also played on the Hickory American Legion baseball team and made the All-Star team all of those years.
He went on to Slippery Rock University, where he was a star baseball player for four years. In 1971 and ’72, Blase was named to the Tri-State College Coaches Association All-Star Team. In 1972, he served as team captain at The Rock and led the squad in six offensive categories.
He also played football for two years, before being injured and concentrating on baseball.
After college he was a standout in independent baseball and softball. He played with the Fabulous Goldstein’s baseball team in the Youngstown Class B League from 1973-75 and played in the Shenango Valley Slow-Pitch Softball League from 1976-86 where he was league MVP in 1978 and part of many league title teams with Pepsi-Cola.
He served as Sharpsville High assistant football coach to head coach Paul Piccirilli for many years, during which the Blue Devils won a state championship, numerous District 10 titles and Mercer County Athletic Conference crowns. He was a member of the West Penn Coaches Association.
He coached Sharpsville Little League from 1990-2000 and served on the board of directors. He has been a member of the Sharpsville Booster Club and helped in club activities and fund-raising. He was a volunteer for the Mercer County Challenger League and Special Olympics.
He was founder of Prime Time Prep Players, a college recruiting consultant group.
DAVID G. PALMER
Dave Palmer was one of the greatest basketball players in Mercer High School history who in the early 1960s led the Mustangs to two straight state finals appearances, the first in school history.
He was a standout on the Mustangs teams from 1961-63 and went on to an outstanding career at West Virginia University.
As a junior in 1961-62, he scored 603 points including 19 in the state championship loss to Darby, 51-42. The team finished 26-5 and Dave was named second-team All-State and first-team All-District. He was MVP of the Mercer High Invitational tourney that season as well. He also lettered in cross country that year.
He was first-team All-State and All-District his senior year as he helped lead the Mustangs to the state finals for a second straight season. He led the team in scoring with 549 points, including a team-high 15 in another state finals defeat at the hands of Darby, 61-45. The Mustangs went 23-4 that year.
Dave was the leading scorer in Mercer County his senior year and won the Hoyle Award at the annual prestigious Hoyle Tournament in Sharon. He was team MVP. He also served as sports editor of the school yearbook.
He was inducted into the Mercer High School Athletic Hall of Fame both as an individual and team member.
He became the first player in Mercer history to earn a four-year scholarship to a Division I University. He had a stellar career at West Virginia U., where he was leading scorer on the freshman team in 1964 and was a three-year varsity letterman.
He later served as a freshman assistant coach and recruiter for the Mountaineers after graduation.
Dave was head basketball coach at Woodsfield (Ohio) High School from 1974-77. His teams won three sectional titles and finished as district runners-up twice.
JOSEPH H. McMULLEN
Joe McMullen was an outstanding athlete out of the former Sandy Lake High School, Class of 1942.
He played varsity basketball for three seasons and led the team to the Mercer County Class B Championship.
He went on to Grove City College where he played football as a freshman. He actually played in the first football game he ever saw.
He moved on to Brown University where he called the plays from his tackle position. He coached football and basketball at Brown from 1945-46, assisting Weeb Ewbank, later coach of the NFL Colts and Jets. He also coached lacrosse, tennis and golf.
Joe was named director of athletics in 1979 and helped Towson State University move into NCAA Division I status, after he had 30 years of coaching, teaching and administrative experience behind him. He became the school’s first full-time AD.
He came to Towson after spending 8 years rebuilding the athletic program at Marshall University following the plane crash that took the lives of the football team plus athletic administrators and supporters.
Prior to that he also coached football for a dozen years at Stetson, Washington & Jefferson, Akron and San Jose State as well as serving for 6 seasons as an assistant to Rip Engle and Joe Paterno at Penn State.
He was inducted into the Towson State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984.