Former baseball star Zmudosky among Rome Sports Hall of Fame inductees
Tom Zmudosky, the former Rome Free Academy and Smith Post American Legion pitching ace who went on to play baseball in the minor leagues, is included in the incoming induction class for the Rome …
Former baseball star Zmudosky among Rome Sports Hall of Fame inductees
Tom Zmudosky, the former Rome Free Academy and Smith Post American Legion pitching ace who went on to play baseball in the minor leagues, is included in the incoming induction class for the Rome Sports Hall of Fame.
Zmudosky, who lost his battle with cancer late last month, will be among those recognized for a lifetime of excellence when the 38th annual induction and awards dinner is held on Sunday, July 27, at the Beeches.
Joining Zmudosky in the 2014 induction class are five other all-time Rome greats: Paul Adey, the late Milton Burkhart, Derek DeCosty, Steve Evans and Marge Meiss VanSlyke.
Service award winners, the sports personalties of the year and the Ellie Bruce Exceptional Team of Excellence Award recipients to be announced at a later date will also be among those honored during the dinner.
Here’s a look at the incoming members of the Rome Sports Hall of Fame, with much of the information provided by Hall of Fame researchers:
• Tom P. Zmudosky
Zmudosky established himself as one of the best high school players to ever come out of the Mohawk Valley, compiling a 9-1 pitching record and a .390 batting average in his senior year while earning all-league honors.
But his most memorable moments came for Smith Post as the right-hander posted a 12-1 record for the 27-5 Rome squad that captured the state championship in 1978. In more than 90 innings of work, he allowed just 12 earned runs and 96 strikeouts and even came out of the bullpen to record a pair of saves.
He was at his best during the state and regional playoffs, going 6-0 with an ERA of 0.75. He played first base for Smith Post when he wasn’t pitching and posted a .358 batting average.
Zmudosky would go on to sign a pro baseball contract with the Utica Blue Sox and was drafted by the Oakland Athletics, spending several years in the minor leagues. His best year was in 1999 when he was 8-5 with an ERA of 3.07.
While his most accomplished sport was baseball, he was also an outstanding high school basketball player. Zmudosky was a two-year starter and team captain in his senior year for the 1977-78 Black Knights squad and was honored as a league all-star.
After his playing days, he served as a volunteer pitching coach for Smith Post and participated in numerous baseball clinics.
Diagnosed with cancer the middle of last year, Zmudosky died on May 22.
• Paul Adey
Adey and his older brother, fellow Hall of Fame inductee Mike Adey, grew up near Franklyn’s Field and spent much of their younger days there.
He was a three-sport athlete at RFA, where as a center on the football team he never lost a game.
A knee injury ended his playing days after high school, but after graduating from Utica College he began teaching and coaching at RFA.
He later joined his former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Mike Davis at Hamilton College, where he became the offensive coordinator.
More than three decades later, he remains at Hamilton, where as the head strength and conditioning coach he oversees 17 sports teams.
• Milton J. Burkhart
One of Rome’s all-time leading golfers, Burkhart broke onto the local sports scene with a stunning victory in the City Amateur Golf Tournament as a 17-year-old in 1932. He followed that up with two more city golf crowns the next two years. At the age of 21 he accepted a job as the golf pro at Beaver Brook, making him ineligible for future city amateur tourneys.
After serving in the Army during World War II, he decided to build and operate a driving range on Oriskany Road, and 20 years later Burkhart opened the Oriskany Hills Golf Course which he and his family operated from 1962 until his death in 1986. He was also a golf instructor and encouraged youngsters to take up the game by offering free lessons.
• Derek F. DeCosty
DeCosty is regarded as one of the most talented players from Rome to ever lace up his hockey skates.
He led RFA in scoring two of his three years and helped the Black Knights win the state Division I championship during the 1985-86 campaign as a senior. He finished his high school career with over 60 goals and 60 assists, capturing the attention of college hockey teams.
DeCosty accepted a full scholarship to play hockey at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and finished his career as RPI’s seventh all-time leading scorer. As an assistant captain in his senior year, he tallied a team-high 41 points on 26 goals and 15 assists.
He then embarked on a pro career that was frequently hampered by injures, including five seasons in the East Coast Hockey League. He also played two years of pro roller hockey and spent the last years of his pro career playing overseas in Great Britain’s Premier League.
• Steven W. Evans
The son of longtime RFA coach Stan Evans, the younger Evans has gone on to carve out an outstanding basketball coaching resume of his own.
He is the third member of his immediate family to be inducted into the Rome Sports Hall of Fame, joining his father, Stan, and his sister, Kristen, the former gymnastics standout.
Like his father, Evans has made a name for himself in the coaching ranks. Since 2000 he has been the head coach at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, and this season, with his father continuing on in his role as an assistant coach on the staff, the Dolphins reached the NCAA Division II tournament for the first time in 17 years. He is second on Le Moyne’s all-time win list, and he was at the helm in 2009 when the school upset neighboring Division I power Syracuse University in an exhibition game.
He left his mark on the high school level as a standout player on the hardcourt at RFA, where in three years as the starting point guard for the squad coached by the elder Evans he scored over 1,000 points, was a team captain and earned all-star honors.
He went on to be a four-year starter for Union College, setting a single-season assist record. He was also a gifted baseball player, leading RFA with a .365 batting average in his senior season.
• Marge Meiss VanSlyke
A successful athlete in her own right, Meiss VanSlyke is credited with helping to push forward girls sports in the city. She was among the founders of the Rome Girls Softball Association, and one of the softball fields at the Bell Road complex is named in her honor.
As a youth in the 1950s at a time when girls sports in Rome were still in the building stages, she established herself as one of the city’s top female athletes as a Junior Olympic speed skating champion, and she played multiple sports during her high school years at a time when they were available only on a limited basis.
After she graduated from RFA, she played and coached in the Adirondack Softball League, coached for the Rome Gills Softball Association and became an avid bowler.
In 2011 she was named to the Rome Women’s Bowling Association Hall of Fame for her contributions as a bowler and league official. She has also enjoyed success over the years in the sports of bocce and curling.
The July 27 awards dinner will begin at 5:30 p.m., preceded by a public reception from 3-5 p.m. at the Rome Sports Hall of Fame located at 5790 Rome-New London Road, next to the Erie Canal Village.
Dinner tickets costing $30 for adults and $15 for children ages 12-and-under are available for purchase at the Rome Sports Hall of Fame. Hours for the hall are Wednesdays-Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. A limited number of tickets are available, and none will be sold on the day of the banquet.
The newest Hall of Famers were nominated in voting done by a selection committee co-chaired by Bill Fleet and Joe Silkowski and were approved by the Hall’s board of directors.
Official forms are available at City Hall for persons wishing to submit nominations for consideration for future entry into the Hall of Fame or for consideration for annual awards.
(Editor’s note: Hall of Fame selection committee member and researcher Carl Eilenberg contributed information for this story.)
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