Schenectady Athletic Hall of Fame calls off induction

Inductees will be honored in 2021
Gale Knull, left, and Willie Deame were among the Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame inductees in 2019.
Gale Knull, left, and Willie Deame were among the Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame inductees in 2019.

The Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony scheduled for Sept. 14 at Glen Sanders Mansion has been canceled due to ongoing concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We didn’t think it would be a wise decision to gamble that we could do it,” hall of fame chairperson Bob Pezzano said. “There are too many uncertainties to go forward.”

Running star Ed Alger and champion shot put and discus thrower Joe Zelezniak of Mont Pleasant, and Nott Terrace football standout Al Burnham were to be inducted into the hall of fame this year. Linton’s undefeated 1969-70 basketball team, that included previous hall of fame inductees Walt Przybylo and Sidney Edwards, was to be recognized with a legacy tribute.

The three individuals and the Linton hoops squad will be honored at the Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, hall of fame festivities at Glens Sanders Mansion.

“The committee at a later date will decide if we’ll be adding to this class,” Pezzano said.

The hall of fame event has grown in popularity since its inception in 1998, with close to 350 people attending in 2019 when basketball whiz Willie Deane became the first athlete from modern Schenectady High School to be inducted.

“What happens if they tell us we can only have 150 in the room?” Pezzano asked. “We don’t want to decide on who gets in and who doesn’t.”

More than 80 tickets had already been sold for the 2020 event.

“We’re disappointed, but it was a unanimous decision by the committee,” Pezzano said. “We considered some different things, but there’s too many unanswered questions at this time. We want this class to enjoy it like the others.”

Alger won the state mile championship in 1952 to go along with a pair of Section II titles at that distance, and he also earned two Section II cross country titles before a successful career at Syracuse University.

Zelezniak won state shot put titles in 1969 and 1970 and he still holds the Section II record in that category. He quarterbacked two league championship football teams and made an impact in baseball, too. His extensive resume includes a ninth-place finish at the 1981 World’s Strongest Man competition.

Burnham excelled at halfback for the undefeated Nott Terrace football teams in 1953 and 1954 and shined on the baseball diamond, as well, and in 1955 he was tabbed the Junior Chamber of Commerce Senior Athlete of the Year. His Nott Terrace baseball teams won two league titles and as a senior he batted .500. He later played in the Dodgers minor league baseball chain.

Linton’s 1969-70 basketball team finished 22-0 and with a No. 1 state rank, and won all but one game by double digits. Edwards was joined by Chuck Abba, Bill Suprunowicz, Charlie Mack and Dave Modest in the starting lineup.

Reach Jim Schiltz at [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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