SCHENECTADY — State basketball champion Willie Deane, star football player Gale Knull and boxing great Billy Petrolle will make up the 2019 induction class for the Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame, it was announced Wednesday.
The trio, along with Mont Pleasant's undefeated 1959 track and field team in the legacy tribute category, will be honored Sept. 16 at Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia.
Deane led Schenectady to the 1998 state basketball title and a 28-1 record during his senior season, in which he became the high school's all-time scoring leader with 1,500 points. He played at Boston College and Purdue, where he was twice selected the Boilermakers' most valuable player, before a successful pro career overseas that included three Bulgarian championships and other titles in France and Italy.
Knull excelled on the offensive line and at linebacker for Mont Pleasant's undefeated and state No.1-ranked football team as a senior in 1967. He was also an undefeated Section II and state wrestling champion as a senior. Knull later enjoyed superb success in both sports at St. Lawrence University.
Petrolle, who will be inducted posthumously, began his pro boxing career in 1922 and fought 10 opponents who were current or former world champions. He boxed 11 times at Madison Square Garden and also saw action at Yankee Stadium and Boston Garden. He was on the cover of Ring Magazine three times, and is listed No. 47 on the best all-time welterweights by BoxRec.com. Known as the "Fargo Express," Petrolle was previously inducted into four other halls of fame.
Coach Ray Vacca's 1959 track and field team featured seven Section II individual-event champions including Don Blaha (high jump) and Jim Scott (440) , who would add state titles. Vacca, Blaha and the team's assistant coach, Larry Mulvaney, are SCSD Athletic Hall of Fame members.