Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tough Guy an Easy Choice to Accept Flyers’ Award

Ian Laperriere, PSWA's Team of the Year

Even in the National Hockey League, they don’t come much tougher than Ian Laperriere.

The Philadelphia Flyers’ forward is sidelined indefinitely with “post concussion syndrome.” To keep “Lappy” off the ice … well, it’s just not easy.

In the first round of last year’s NHL playoffs, Laperriere through himself in front of a shot and took the puck square in his face. He suffered a concussion and a brain contusion, to go along with a broken nose. He required almost 70 stitches in his face, and was expected to miss the rest of the playoffs.

But for one of the toughest men to ever lace ’em up in the NHL, missing the Flyers’ inspired playoff run was not an option. He returned to action in the Conference Finals against Montreal.

Laperriere isn’t on the ice right now, but he will be on the dais for the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association’s 107th annual Awards Dinner, 6:30 p.m. Monday, January 31, 2011.

(The public is invited, and tickets are on sale here.)

Watch these videos to see why The Hockey News calls “Lappy” “The Toughest Guy in Hockey.”

Frank Drebin, ‘Umpire’

Leslie Nielsen, aka Frank Drebin

Baseball fans, sports fans, and people who just like to laugh are mourning the passing of Leslie Nielsen earlier this week.

Nielsen was the anchor of the ‘Naked Gun’ movies – OJ Simpson was one of his co-stars – but he also had a loose connection to baseball, thanks to his hilarious portrayal of MLB umpire Frank Drebin.

The following, written by Chris Olds, appeared on ESPN Page 2.


Many of you might know him as Lt. Frank Drebin, a former major league baseball umpire or, of course, opera star Enrico Pallazzo.

But many of you might not know that Leslie Nielsen, who died Sunday at age 84, actually can be found in packs of baseball cards.

Upper Deck landed the former “Naked Gun” star for an appearance in its 2009 Spectrum Baseball set, which included a set of autographed celebrity cards.

Nielsen can be found in the 22-card Spectrum of Stars Autographs set alongside Burt Reynolds, Corey Feldman, Kim Kardashian, Kendra Wilkinson, Linda Hamilton and even Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. But none of those stars thwarted Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson’s attempt to attack the Queen of England, surely making Nielsen’s card perhaps more endearing to a baseball fan, right?

Nielsen signed two different cards – a standard version of his Spectrum of Stars card and a rarer version limited to 50 copies. Before his death, the standard card typically sold for somewhere between $15 and $40, while the rarer card typically fetched as much as $50.

In addition to those two cards, Nielsen also appears on four printing plate cards, the sheets of metal used to print the cards which were cut down to card size and randomly placed into packs.

Since the news of the star’s death, the standard card has fetched as much as $65 in online auctions.

Here’s a link to the story

Below, a great clip from the memorable career of an umpire who just wanted to blend in …

Villanova’s Frances Koons honored by PSWA

Frances Koons, Most Courageous Athlete, PSWA

Mark Kram of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote about PSWA Most Courageous Athlete Frances Koons after last year’s banquet.

After beating cancer, Villanova runner Koons wins courageous athlete award

As 5-2 Frances Koons looked back over her athletic career and the obstacles she later faced, the eight-time All-America in track and cross country from Villanova realized that it was not just the length of her legs that carried her to stardom but the size of her heart.

“And probably a good set of lungs, some genetics and some hard work played into that, too,” said Koons, 23. “So I guess I have just been really blessed with all of that.”

Blessed is a word with which Koons has more than a passing acquaintance. Diagnosed during the summer of 2007 with clear-cell renal carcinoma – a form of kidney cancer typically found in people over 40 who are heavy smokers, obese or have high blood pressure – Koons had successful surgery to remove the tumor and has since resumed her training regimen with the hope of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.

In recognition of her fortitude in overcoming a potentially deadly illness, Koons was announced yesterday as the winner of the 2010 Most Courageous Athlete Award by the Philadelphia Sports Writers. The association honored her last night at their 106th annual dinner at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill.

She said at the press conference before the event that she was “truly humbled.”

“I am so just deeply honored,” she said. “It is kind of an amazing award to get. I was really surprised. Really special.”

Koons said she was “really surprised” when she received her cancer diagnosis. She remembered that she had “no blatant symptoms,” only “the feeling that something was off” physically as she went through her rigorous training program. While she said the doctors told her they were 95 percent sure she had kidney cancer, Koons said they explained that they could not be 100 percent sure until they performed surgery. That occurred in August 2007, and doctors verified the cancer. Koons said it was a “quick turnaround” between her diagnosis and being cancer-free.

They immediately removed the tumor with minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery and, she said, “They got all of it.”

She said she is lucky doctors found it when they did.

“[The doctors] just happened to find it,” said Koons, who starred at Villanova between 2004 and ’09. “It is a very slow-growing cancer and I was just really fortunate that I had doctors who caught it in the early stages. Once it metastasizes, kidney cancer has a really tough prognosis.”

Koons has had a stellar career, during which she was named 2006 NCAA Mid-Atlantic regional cross country athlete of the year. Unable to perform for a year in the wake of her surgery, she reached the semifinals in the 1,500-meter run at the 2008 Olympic trials. She said she experienced a deep level of joy being able to compete again.

“When you put hard work into something and you have something successful come out of it, you know you are going to be happy with that,” Koons said. “But when you have a life-altering [event], you appreciate it that much more. I kind of savor the experience.”

Koons said her ordeal has changed her perspective on competition.

“It has made me more care-free about running,” said Koons, who attended Allentown Central Catholic High. “There is not as much weight on your shoulders, because you know there are a lot more important things in life.”

Koons said the support she has received from the running community was “pretty phenomenal.” She called it “awesome medicine.” But she also has reached out to other athletes she heard from who have had medical problems, including a woman from the University of Minnesota who had brain cancer and is now cancer-free. Doing so has allowed her to connect with the human spirit of others, which she says inspires and humbles her. She said she hopes to be a spokeswoman for kidney research.

Koons said she has to have annual checkups, but said the doctors have told her they do not expect the cancer to come back. With a degree in mathematics, she is now finishing work at Villanova on her master’s degree in applied statistics, which she said could lead to a career with a pharmaceutical company or medical research. She also hopes to participate in the schedule of events leading up to the 2012 London Olympics.

She does not consider herself “courageous.”

She thinks of her brother when she thinks of that word. Sgt. Frederick Koons is scheduled to go back to Iraq or Afghanistan in the spring.

“Courage is the men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the people helping in Haiti right now,” she said. “That is on a bigger level. But on a more micro-level in our lives, we can be courageous in our personal relationships. Or just sending a smile to someone when they are down . . . Everyone is capable of being courageous in their own way.”

Click here for Mark Kram’s report.

PSWA names Phillies ‘Team of the Year’ for 2009

Phillies celebrate NLCS victory

They were the team of the year for 2007 and 2008, and when the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association gathers for its 106th annual Awards Dinner, the National league champion Phillies will be recognized as Team of the Year for 2009.

Tickets to the PSWA dinner on Feb. 1 are available to the public. Click here to order tickets.

The season had a different look than in the two previous years when the Phillies chased down the Mets in September. In 2009, the team took over the National League East early in the season, and maintained its hold on first place for the rest of the year. Once in the playoffs, there was a 3-games-to-1 win over Colorado in the Division series, followed by a repeat 4-1 triumph over the Dodgers for the National league pennant.

The World Series ended with a loss to the Yankees in six games, which only left fans looking for a third straight trip to the Series in 2010.

The National League champs will be represented on the Sports Writers’ dais by several players and members of the management team.

The Sports Writers Association’s 106th annual banquet will be held on Monday, Feb. 1, 2010 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Route 70 in Cherry Hill, N.J.

In addition to the Phillies, other awards to be presented will be the professional and amateur Athletes of the Year, the Philadelphia Living Sports Legend, Humanitarian, Good Guy athlete, Native Son, Outstanding Penn Relays collegiate performer, MVP of the Army-Navy game, and several special achievement presentations.

Tickets to the PSWA’s 106th annual Awards Dinner are $75. Click here to order yours now!

If You Ever Get to Texas … Go Early for Batting Practice

Take a visit to Arlington, Texas, and Rangers Ballpark.

A reporter from Channel 5, NBC’s local affiliate in the Lone Star State, visits the park, and tries his hand at shagging some BP home runs on Greens Hill in centerfield.

The only rule: You gotta wait until the ball hits the turf!

Kind of makes me want to take in some batting practice at the Bank.

Joe Conklin: A Fan-Favorite at PSWA Awards Dinner

Sports comic Joe Conklin has been a fixture on the dais of the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association’s annual Awards Dinner for many years.

When Conklin performs at the PSWA awards dinner, he’s sure to leave the crowd and our honored guests – most of them, anyway – in stitches.

His spot-on impersonations of local sports figures has made Conklin an all-star in his own right.

If the Philly sports writers can’t get Eagles coach Andy Reid to come to our dinner, Conklin’s impression of Big Red is the next best thing.

Below is a promotional video for Joe that features more than a few clips from Philadelphia Sports Writers Association dinners of the past.

The next video features Joe Conklin’s hilarious performance at the Philadelphia sports Writers Association’s 105th annual Awards Dinner on January 26, 2009.

It also includes the late, great Harry Kalas delivering an unforgettable joke about his friend, Richie Ashburn, and more memorable moments captured from somebody’s seat at a table near the dais.

Philadelphia Sports Writers Awards Banquet 1/26/09 w/Phillies

Jeremy Maclin – Eagles’ No. 1 Pick

After trading up from pick No. 21 to 19, the Eagles had a shot at tightend Brandon Pettigrew, but instead, the Birds went for highly touted receiver Jeremy Maclin, out of Missouri.

Maclin is a play-maker who can also return kicks with flair.

He could become an instant favorite with Eagles fans.

If you want to learn more about Jeremy Maclin, take some time and enjoy these videos.

The first video below demonstrates Maclin’s big-play capability as he returns a kick 99 yards for a TD …

Next is a phenomenal six-video NFL series about this up-and-coming star. “The Maclin Project” provides an insider’s view of Jeremy’s extensive preparation for the NFL draft. This is some fascinating stuff! Don’t miss it.

Kalas honored by PSWA at 2008 Awards Dinner

Harry Kalas was awarded the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association’s Living Legend award at the 104th annual awards dinner on Jan. 28, 2008.

The following article, written by Phillies broadcaster Tom McCarthy, was printed in the PSWA program book for the 104th dinner.

By Tom McCarthy / Phillies Announcer /
It is amazing when you think about it, these gifts that we are given. When they arrive — and in this case the year was 1971 when one of Philadelphia’s greatest gifts came in the form of a slick-looking, 35-year-old with a baritone voice from Naperville, Ill. — you don’t always think much of their initial sports or personal value. As the years move on, though, and a variety of summer memories are recorded on a daily, poetic, basis, the value of the gift increases and is cherished more and more.

Harry Kalas throws out the first ball

The gift, who in this case just keeps on giving to all Philadelphia sports fans, is Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas, the eternal voice of the Phillies. Tonight, surrounded by some of the greatest athletes and personalities to grace the ball fields, hard courts or rinks in Philadelphia,Harry is being honored as a “Living Legend” by the distinguished panel of Philadelphia sportswriters. It is an honor that is, truly, well-deserved in so many ways, but mostly because of the person.

Although this will be my first year back in Philadelphia after two years in New York, my memories of Harry are not only fresh, but they are ones that I look forward to adding to in the years to come. As a young broadcaster, each of us would like to develop into the kind of announcer that will be enveloped by the fan-base of a city or team. Well, to say Harry has been enveloped by the city of Philadelphia is an understatement. This gift, as I have called him many times before, is not only a Hall of Fame broadcaster, but he is, indeed, a Hall of Fame person.

Harry Kalas with the Phillies Phanatic

When I talk to young broadcasters about Harry, I always acknowledge his wonderful voice, passed on to him by his beloved father, and I make it a point to highlight his ability to pick the right words at the right time. I always go beyond that, though, and go right to the heart of the man and explain what I think is the most important part of Harry’s legend. It is the way he relates to the fans. It doesn’t matter if we are standing outside of a hotel in Cincinnati or Petco Park in San Diego, Harry will always make time for the fans. He will recite their favorite Philly names, like Michael Jack Schmidt or Micky Morandini, or he will let your friends or family members know that you are like “a long drive, outta here!” so leave a message after the tone.

It is what makes him the Philadelphia Legend that we honor tonight. A gift from Illinois, but a true Philadelphia icon. Thank you, Harry.

Harry Kalas’ Hall of Fame Induction and Speech

Harry Kalas at the Hall of Fame

Reprinted from /

Harry Kalas, longtime announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies, was the 2002 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award.

A native of Naperville, Ill., Kalas graduated from the University of Iowa in 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech, Radio, and Television. The affable broadcaster was drafted into the military on graduation day and spent the following two years in Hawaii with the U.S. Army. In 1961, he served as sports director of radio station KGU and also began broadcasting for the Pacific Coast League’s Hawaii Islanders as well as the University of Hawaii.

An original member of the Astros broadcast team in 1965, he called games for Houston until 1970. In 1971, he moved to the Phillies broadcast booth, where he shared the microphone with Hall of Fame outfielder Richie Ashburn for 26 seasons. Kalas was honored as Pennsylvania Sportscaster of the Year 18 times. He also broadcast Big Five basketball and Notre Dame football.

Kalas, revered for his uncanny ability to connect with his listeners, whether on radio or television, called more than 5,000 Phillies games. His passion for the game was unsurpassed, and his powerful, soothing voice was a summertime tradition throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.

On July 28, 2002, Harry Kalas made this speech at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York.

It is reprinted from

This is the ultimate honor in a game that I have loved since I was 10 years old thanks to Mickey Vernon. It’s very special to be inducted with the most acrobatic shortstop I ever saw play this beautiful game, Ozzie Smith, and the legendary Joe Falls from the Motor City. I now join my two partners with whom I worked when I first came to Philadelphia in 1971, By Saam and Richie Ashburn.

People ask me what it was like working with Richie. His Whiteness and I were together for 27 years, and it was such a joy. He not only brought to the booth baseball expertise, but also laughter. Whitey had a marvelous sense of humor. I remember doing games with him, and it would be getting late in the game, late in the evening, and Whitey would say on the air, “I wonder if the people at Celebres Pizza are listening tonight?” Well, within 15 minutes, bang, pizzas are delivered to the radio booth.

This went on for a little while, and pretty soon Phillies management called him in, and they said, “Richie, Celebres Pizza is not one of our sponsors. We can’t be giving them free plugs.” Now, we do do birthday and anniversary announcements on the air. So shortly after his meeting with the Philadelphia brass, it’s getting late again in the evening, and he’s getting hungry, he said. “Well, I have very special birthday wishes to send out tonight to the Celebres twins, plain and pepperoni.”

I want to thank the Phillies for their undying support for the last 32 years. Especially to Bill Giles, who brought me to Philadelphia in 1971, the best professional move I ever made. To the players, coaches and managers over the years, one of the many beauties of this game is no matter how long you’ve been in it, you learn more about it every year, every day. Every year I see things on the field that I’ve never seen before. A feel for the game was learned from so many men in uniform I could not possibly name them all. But you know who you are, and I love you.

To the members of the media who have been so supportive over the years — my colleagues, the beat writers and columnists, the radio/TV productions staff and crews across the USA. To the scouts and general managers over the years who have shared their baseball knowledge and experience in hundreds of press rooms across America.

The love of my life, my wife, Eileen. My sons Todd, Brad and Kane. My stepdaughter, Kiki, my stepson, Travis, my stepgrandson, Cole. My brother, Jim, and his wife, Mary, and my nieces and nephews. Families sacrifice when their man is a baseball man. For seven months a year, we spend more time with our team than we do with our families. I thank you for being so understanding and supportive.

We come here to Cooperstown to laud our baseball heroes each year. But all of us laud America’s heroes from all walks of life whose selflessness is on display daily. Those that lay their lives on the line for our safety, you are in our hearts. There are some loved ones in heaven looking down on us today. Mom, Dad, Celia, Byrum, Whitey, Ray Shore, Art Perkins, Mike Capredo, I thank you. And to the most passionate sports fans in America, the Philadelphia fans. I have written a brief poem to you beautiful fans.

This is to the Philadelphia fan.
To laud your passion as best I can.

Your loyalty is unsurpassed.
Be the Fightins in first or last.

We come to the park each day,
looking forward to another fray.

Because we know you’ll be there,
we know you really care.

You give the opposing pitcher fits
because as one loyalist shouts, everybody hits.

To be sure in Philly, there might be some boos.
Because you passionate fans, like the manager, hate to lose.

Your reaction to the action on the field that you impart,
spurs as broadcasters to call the game with enthusiasm and heart.

We feel your passion through and through.
Philadelphia fans, I love you.

And thank you all for sharing in a day that I will never forget. I love you. Thank you.