Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame

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The Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame was founded in 1981 to recognize former players, coaches, managers, sponsors and umpires who had displayed their talents or generosity in an outstanding manner over the many years of amateur baseball in Akron.

The GABHoF was the vision of Rudy Piekarski, whose dream came to pass May 8, 1982, when 98 people attended a banquet at Anthe’s restaurant on West Market Street to honor a charter group of 8 inductees. Members of that Charter Class were Jack Bisesi, Garrett Coey, Frank Garcia, Ray Glinsky, Dick Lombardi, Bobby Nash, Joe Winkler and Dave Young.  All but Bisesi, Glinsky and Young have passed away.

Called The Greater Akron Class A-AA Baseball League Hall of Fame, the goal was to honor participants involved in the A, AA and old Industrial leagues in Akron.  In August 1984, the leadership voted to change the name of the organization to Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame in order to recognize all levels of baseball in the Akron area.

The organization was incorporated in 1985 as a non-profit and is a 501c3 tax exempt organization.  The City of Akron provided the GABHoF in 1996 with space at Akron’s new Canal Park Stadium, then home of the Akron Aeros – now the Akron RubberDucks, as a place to honor its inductees and display Akron baseball memorabilia.

The GABHOF celebrates its 32nd anniversary this year and will hold its first induction ceremony since 2010 on July 14, 2013. (There was minimal inductee activity by the GABHoF from 2005-2012 as founder and president Rudy Piekarski battled health issues that eventually ended his life in May 2011.)

The GABHoF was reconstituted in January 2012 behind the work of Ron Piekarski (1997 inductee and Rudy’s brother), Lou Yovanovich (2003) and Carl Rakich (1985).  They recruited Tom Giffen of Akron-based Roy Hobbs Baseball to help form a new Board of Directors, update the GABHoF Constitution and By-Laws, get the Hall of Fame at Canal Park updated and open on a regular basis, and resolve lapsed non-profit status, all with an eye to renewing the GABHoF’s commitment to the recognition and promotion of baseball on all levels in the Akron region.

Rudy Piekarski

Rudy Piekarski … at home with a mike or a bat
Photo Courtesy of the Akron Beacon Journal

From this early 2012 effort came a renewed mission statement:  The GABHoF is dedicated to the recognition of baseball excellence, support for and promotion of the game and assistance at all levels of baseball in the Greater Akron Area, including the preservation of ethics, high standards and integrity of the game of baseball.  The Hall of Fame shall seek to help promote and assist amateur and youth baseball programs in the Greater Akron Area.

The Board of Directors convinced Giffen to take the GABHoF President’s position in June of 2012. With a Board of Directors solidified, efforts began to recruit new generations into the Hall, to revitalize the Hall of Fame displays, to forge new relationships with the City of Akron, Akron-area baseball organizations and to plan for the resumption of the annual induction and banquet in 2013.

The weekend of July 12-14, 2013, included a series of events to celebrate the induction of a class of 14 inductees with 3 service award honorees.

The GABHoF weekend included a reception for Honorees at the Hall of Fame on Friday evening, July 12, followed by an evening of recognition at the Akron Aeros Game at Canal Park.  The inductees participated in a mass First Pitch before the game and a Saturday golf outing for GABHoF and its honorees at Turkeyfoot Golf Club on the Portage Lakes.

The weekend culminated with the Induction Banquet Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m. at the Stow Youth Baseball Hall.

Along with the banquet, the GABHoF has established a high school all-star game to recognize excellence from area high schools on the diamond, and the GABHoF is forging an alliance with the Akron RubberDucks that will further enhance baseball in the Akron Region and provide more opportunities to promote the game itself.

The first such game was held June 12 at Canal Park, with the Summit Stars scoring a 3-2 victory in 9th-inning walk-off fashion.