Effort Is Being Made to Honor Sonny Allen in Virginia

A full-blown effort is under way in the Norfolk, Virginia, area in an effort to have Moundsville native Sonny Allen become a member of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.

Retired sportswriter Harry Minium is spearheading this undertaking, and a couple weeks ago had an article published in the Virginia-Pilot newspaper which explained why Allen, who was the head basketball coach at Old Dominion University in Norfolk for 10 years, deserves to be in that Hall of Fame..

Allen is already in the Hampton Roads (Virginia) Sports Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2015. Minium was instrumental in Allen’s induction to that HOF. The nomination form for that Hall of Fame being that Allen was a popular basketball coach whose 181-94 record at ODU included a Division II national title in 1975. He was known for an exciting, fast-paced style of play. It noted that he also coached at SMU, Nevada (Reno), and in the professional ranks, both men and women.

The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame honors athletes, coaches, administrators, journalists and other contributors in athletics. Each April the VSHOF inducts eight new members into its ranks. The Hall of Fame has a statewide board of directors and an Honors Court that receives and reviews nominations of potential inductees, announcing its selections each December.

Leading up to the reasons why Allen should become at member of the VSHOF, Minium gave a brief summary about happenings in the United States in 1965 which he stated: “That (1965) was the year Old Dominion College, as it was then known, hired a young guy named Sonny Allen as its men’s basketball coach.”

He continued, “Many of you have never heard of Sonny, but if you’re an ODU fan of any sort, you show know his story. He not only transformed ODU basketball into a national name, his fast-break offense also changed the game nationally. And he showed courageous determination to fight for racial justice. If for no other reason, Sonny should be long remembered for this: He integrated college basketball in Virginia when it was an unpopular thing to do.”

It was pointed out that while at Marshall University he roomed with Hal Greer on away trips. Greer, who went on to become an NBA star, was the first basketball African-American to play at MU. Arthur “Buttons”Speakes, a guard from Huntington, as was Greer, who was the first black player to accept a scholarship from Sonny.

According to Minium, Allen took ODU to its first six NCAA tournaments, its first Final Four in 1971, and won the Division II national championship in 1975. He was named the national Division II Coach of the Year.

Allen, 83, retired from coaching in 2001 with a 613-383 record which included five years with Marshall’s freshman team, 10 years at ODU, five years at SMU, 10 years at Nevada (Reno), along with coaching in the World Basketball League, the Continental Basketball League, the WNBA, and one year as an NBA assistant.

Minium concluded by stating that he had reached out to a number of people and that all have responded positively when asked to support Sonny’s induction. He said, “It’s a diverse group, Gov. Ralph Northam, ODU President John R. Broderick, former NFL star Bruce Smith and Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander have written letters. So have ODU Hall of Fame members including Dave Twardzik who nominated Sonny several times.

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This past week was a busy one in Marshall County.

It started with the Marshall County Fair. It was a little warm this past Sunday, and a little rain fell on Monday afternoon, but the rest of week, up to Saturday, the weather has been great.

Fair board president Beth Bertram said, “Attendance is up and everyone seems to be enjoying the fair.”

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The Back to School Fun Fair on Wednesday went extremely well.

There were sufficient volunteers on hand to distribute school items.

There were some 1,200 youngsters present.

Organizer Susie Baker said after the four-hour fair that she expected to be receiving telephone calls from parents saying that they were unable to make it to the former prison, and asking if they could still receive the items.

Baker said arrangements would be made to provide them with school supplies, thus the overall distribution should be in the 1,300 range.

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Then on Wednesday Gov. Jim Justice was in Moundsville to “drop off” a heavy-duty road machine at the Division Of Highways District 6 facility.

Later that day, President Trump would be in Wheeling, accompanied by Glen Dale native U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, for a fundraiser at WesBanco Arena.

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And then on Thursday W.Va. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey made a visit to the WVU Medicine/Reynolds Memorial Hospital to meet with President and CEO David Hess and vice president of clinical operations, Mike Ortiz.

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Baseball trip number 56 is in the book!

This brings to 190 the number of regular season major league contests, spring training games, regular minor league games and two College World Series games over a 17-year period.

The most recent games took place this past weekend in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

We have been fortunate over the years to have something transpire in a baseball related venue.

What we scheduled for last week was a visit to the Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh, a Pirates-Philadelphia game, and a Cleveland-Kansas City game.

We started out at the Clemente Museum, where we found out that there were additional artifacts since the last time we were there, and although Steve Blass’ schedule didn’t permit him to be there, two docents filled in quite well.

Once our visit to the Clemente Museum was completed, we went to our hotel room, this being the first time we ever stayed overnight in Pittsburgh in conjunction with our part of our baseball trip, to get ready for an evening game against Philadelphia.

Our hotel happened to be across the street from the stadium. In fact, one of the gates was directly across the street.

When Bill Bryson, owner of Uniglobe Ohio Valley Travel, chose the game several months ago he didn’t know it would going be a special night.

Well, it was!

Members of the 1979 Buccos were honored, and if you didn’t know, they were world champions that year after going 98-64 in regular season play.

A number of our group were old enough to have attended games that year and were aware that the team was known as “We Are Family.”

By the way, when we entered the park we eacg received a bobblehead of a player from that era. Before the game, several of the 1979 Pirates were introduced, along with in some cases family members.

Like everybody in attendance, our group could say, “I was at the game in which the 1979 team was honored.” However, they can also said that they either rode on the hotel elevator with one of the former players, or in some cases ate breakfast at an adjoining table.

As you might have guessed, a number of the 1979s team members were staying at the same hotel.

One of the players I saw in the lobby hotel prior to the game was Jim Rooker, who happened to be coming one way while I was going the other way.

Forty years ago is long time, and we forget things but it didn’t take long to remember them when their names were announced.

As to the seven-game series that year, the Pirates lost three of the first four games, but came back to win the final three, the last two being in Baltimore.

By the way, the Pirates that year played in Three Rivers Stadium.

The “big” names on the roster that year were Willie Stargell and Dave Parker. Among other players were: Rennie Stennett, Kent Tekulve, John Candelaria, Phil Garner, Omar Moreno, Ed Ott, Manny Sanguillen,, Steve Nicosia, Lee Lacy, Grant Jackson, Tim Foli, Mike Easler, Dale Berra, Matt Alexander, Bert Blyleven, Dock Ellis, Bruce Kison, Rick Rhoden, Don Robinson, John Milner.

The manager was Chuck Tanner.

The top salary that year for a Pirate was $775,000, that being Parker. There were several players whose salary was $21,000.

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My “Facets of Fostoria” the July/August edition of the official publication of the Fostoria Glass Society of America Inc., was delivered recently and included were a number of outstanding features which took place during the June 7-9 convention.

Among those sharing their appreciation was President Jim Davis, who gave special thanks to Ralph and Cassie Clark for their efforts and hard work in taking care of the museum.Also honored were “locals” John Icard and Chuck Hill, along with Lynda Randolph, chairpersons of three events.

Of course, like any organization, membership is a key, and Davis made a challenge to all FGSA members to double the organization’s membership.

In fact, on the same page of the greetings, etc., the names of 14 persons who recently joined FGSA were listed. Four of these individuals are from Moundsville, namely Linda Snodgrass, Norman Vilkoski, Michael West and Carrie West.

It was also noted in the publication that Lynda Randolph had informed the board that due to family health reasons she would be stepping down as convention chair.

Well, it just so happened that one person has agreed to take over, along with two others who will be committee counterparts.

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The free Marshall County Summer Concert Series, arranged by the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce, will conclude Friday at Riverfront Park in McMechen Park. This week’s band will be “Crazy Horse,” county rock performers. The will be held from 7-9 p.m.

This marked the first time that these concert performances went countywide, and there were two performances at Riverfront Park in Moundsville, and one each at Glen Dale City Park, Cameron, Grand Vue Park and McMechen Park.

Sponsors of the concerts include the Marshall County Commission, Moundsville Pharmacy and Green Tab (media).

Of course, personnel from the five different sites also assisted.

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There will still be four other outdoor concerts, all of which will be at the Vue Bar & Grill Outdoor Stage at Grand Vue Park.

These will be on August 9 and 23, and Sept. 13 and 28.

There will also be live music from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., on Jefferson Avenue, this being the UMAC Fall Festival.

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The Marshall County Public Library Summer Reading Program will be in its next-to-last week this coming week.

Stevens Puppets will present “Goldilocks” at 11 a.m., Monday. This is a nationally acclaimed troupe with marionettes.

“Kindernauts & Stem on Station” is the theme for a 11a.m. program in which youngsters can try out a space suit or get to know the Space Station, thanks to NASA.

The third program will take place on Thursday and will consist of two shows, one at 11 a.m. and the other 12:15 p.m. The title being, “Zoo-To-You!” and it features live creatures from Oglebay Park. Pre-registration is required.

The free summer special programs and events have been made possible by the Evan G. Roberts Trust through BB&T Bank.

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