HISTORY OF THE GREATER AKRON BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
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 501(c)(3) 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.
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.
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 GABHOF held its first induction ceremony since 2010 on July 14, 2013 and the weekend of July 12-14 included a series of events to celebrate the induction of a class of 14 inductees and 3 service award honorees.
The future looks bright for the GABHoF but there still is a lot of work to be done. Eventually, the GABHoF will outgrow the room at Canal Park. Also, the GABHoF has to grow in terms of offering interactive displays, more memorabilia, and make it an exciting place to visit for young and old.