On Saturday, November 2, 2013, the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (NIASHF) officially inducted its Class of 2013 at a celebratory dinner dance. Welcoming guests from throughout the United States were NIASHF National Spokesman and New York Mets Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. Piazza was joined by Chicago radio and television sports broadcaster Wayne Randazzo as a co-host for the evening. The event was Co-Chaired by Tom Fioretti and Tony Iannessa. More than 250 guests attended the star-studded celebration that also included a silent auction of important and rare sports memorabilia, and dancing to the HiLine Band.
The Hall of Fame Class of 2013 included Larry Lucchino, President/CEO of the 2013 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox; Hank Lauricella, standout University of Tennessee halfback from 1949-51; Johnny Antonelli, former MLB left-handed hurler for the Giants and Braves; Steve Palermo, Supervisor of MLB Umpires and 1994 Arthur Ashe Courage Award winner; the late Constantine “Cus” D’Amato, trainer of boxing champions Floyd Patterson, Jose Torres, and Mike Tyson; and Eddie Olczyk, current Television Color Analyst and former Chicago Blackhawks hockey great.
As a demonstration of their appreciation for the honor that was conveyed from the NIASHF, Lucchino arrived at the event directly from the victory parade in Boston that celebrated the World Series Championship won by his Red Sox. Former World Champion boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini flew to Chicago to accept the medal that was posthumously presented to D’Amato. D’Amato was also honored at the event in a touching video tribute that was produced by one of his most notable World Championship boxers Mike Tyson. Standing in for Olczyk who was broadcasting in Winnipeg earlier in the day, was NHL and NIASHF Hall of Famer Tony Esposito.
A highlight of the evening was the organization’s 2013 charitable grants announcement made by NIASHF Board Member, Paralympic Gold Medalist and 2009 NIASHF Inductee, Linda Mastandrea. Recipients of the NIASHF’s A Level Playing Field grants for at-risk youth will include Chicago’s Mercy Home for Boys and Girls and Good Sports, an organization that provides sports equipment grants to benefit children from economically challenged communities throughout the United States. The NIASHF’s Second Wind program funds organizations that provide children and adults with physical disabilities and challenges the opportunity to “get into the game”. Recipients will include Kids on the Go, an initiative of Variety – the Children’s Charity of Illinois and dare2tri, a para-triathlon club serving youth, adults, and injured service members and amputees wishing to train and participate in the sport of triathlon.
To conclude the evening’s celebration, President and Founder, George Randazzo, expressed his appreciation of the Board of Directors and their ongoing support and leadership. The NIASHF would like to thank all of this year’s sponsors and contributors, especially our national and corporate sponsors: American Airlines, Roma Foods, Tukaiz, and UAIC.