Andy palich award winner Bios

ABOUT THE AWARD

Annually, since 1965, the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame (SCSHOF) has presented a special award to individuals who have made a major contribution for the betterment of athletics in the county, Ohio or nationally other than as a player, coach or manager. That award is called the Andy Palich Memorial Service Award. 

The award is in memory of Andrew “Andy” Palich, a long-time Akron area sports reporter and a member of the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame Committee. 

A native of Mountain Springs, PA, Palich took an indirect route into the newspaper business. Before becoming a full-time reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Akron bureau chief in 1945, he had worked as a fireman and a school custodian. 

Palich was only five when his family moved to Akron. He was graduated from North High School and attended Kent State University. 

Friends said Palich always had a deep interest in sports of all kinds. He covered sports activities in both Summit and Portage counties, including both The University of Akron and Kent State. 

As a reporter he had the reputation as “a guy coaches and athletes liked to confide in.” Palich died on December 4, 1964 from injuries suffered in a traffic accident on October 29. Ironically, the 49-year old Palich was to have attended the SCSHOF banquet the day of the crash, which ultimately took his life. 

The Andy Palich Award is a fitting tribute to a man who devoted his life and career to writing about Akron area sports. 

  • Robyn Cutler

       2019

The Summit County Sports Hall of Fame would like to congratulate Robyn Cutler on being named the 2019 recipient of the Andy Palich Award. Robyn was born and raised in Canton, Ohio. Following graduation from Kent State in 1982, she moved to Atlanta where she worked for NBC selling advertising. It was there she met her husband, David. They re-located to Akron in 1996 to raise their family. Motivated by her own background and personal connection to running, she began the Summit County Girls on the Run Council in 2007 with only 12 participants at one location. To date, Girls on the Run has served over 13,000 girls across 6 Northeast Ohio counties. She is passionate about the mission of Girls on the Run and believes that every girl is inherently full of power and potential. In addition to serving as Executive Director for Girls on the Run Northeast Ohio, she enjoys volunteering and giving back to the community. Her husband David is a Cardiologist at Akron-General Cleveland Clinic. Together they have 4 children. They both enjoy traveling, hiking, sports and spending time with their family

  • Ken Babby 

        2018

Ken Babby became Owner and Chief Executive Offi cer of the Akron RubberDucks, Double-A affi liate of the Cleveland Indians, in October 2012 when he purchased the then-named Akron Aeros. Babby is the founder of Fast Forward Sports Group LLC, through which he additionally purchased the then-named Jacksonville Suns, Double-A affi liate of the Miami Marlins, in September 2015, becoming the youngest multi-franchise owner in professional sports. Following the 2016 season, the Suns started a new identity as the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Akron RubberDucks baseball has taken fl ight under Babby. In fi ve seasons, the franchise’s second-ever owner has invested more than $7 million into Akron’s Canal Park, which includes one of the largest HD video board in the minor leagues, and attendance has increased by 28 percent. Following a successful identity change after the 2013 season that focused on Akron’s history as the “Rubber Capital of the World,” the team went on to win Minor League Baseball’s prestigious Larry MacPhail Award as the top promotional team in 2015. The 2016 season was packed with honors for the RubberDucks, including an Eastern League championship, the franchise hosting the Eastern League AllStar Game and Home Run Derby for the fi rst time, and the club’s nomination for the John H. Johnson President’s Award, which honors Minor League Baseball’s “most complete franchise.” Babby, 38, is a Potomac, Maryland, native who spent 13 years with the Washington Post, rising to positions such as Vice President, Advertising, and Chief Revenue Offi cer of Washington Post Media and General Manager of Washington Post Digital. In 2017, Babby was named to the Jacksonville Business Journal’s 40 under 40, and he was an Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2017 Award winner in the Northeast Ohio region. He was named one of Sports Business Journal’s 2016 “Forty Under 40,” recognizing excellence and innovation in sports business careers. In 2015, Crain’s Cleveland Business also honored him as one of its local 2015 “Forty Under 40” awards. He serves as chair of the Baseball Internet Rights Company (BIRCO) and serves on numerous boards in Northeast Ohio including: Downtown Akron Partnership, Great Trail Boy Scouts Council, Greater Akron Chamber, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Positive Coaching Alliance, and Summa Foundation. In describing his ownership vision, Babby elaborates on a two-fold mission. As the leader of the organization, he hopes to create a memorable, unique, affordable and enjoyable fan experience, and also maximize the opportunity to create change in the community through charitable, wellness and education initiatives. Babby is an Akron resident and a visible presence at RubberDucks and Jumbo Shrimp games, as well in the local communities. Ken is married to wife, Liz, and he has a nine-year-old son, Josh.

  • John "Jack" Miller
    2016
    Andy Palich Award Winner

​John "Jack" Miller in 1973 put Akron and basketball on the national map as a sports promoter when he and Akronite Pat Ciccantelli introduced the All-American Cage Classic. The idea for the tournament was to showcase top high school basketball talent. Little did the co-founders know how huge the Classic would become. In its inaugural year, the marjority of the teams were from Ohio and a few of the bordering states with less than 25 teams and a few hundred kids competing. Two local gyms were the sites, Cuyahoga Falls and Akron North High Schools. By the late 1990's, the figures stood at 140 teams and 1,500 players with action in more than a dozen venues. Over the years, the tournament was expanded to include younger players and girls teams. College coaches from all over the country attended to watch and hopefully get an inside lok at future talent for their recruiting efforts. The tournament featured teams from Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico and from 39 states in the U.S., including California and New Mexico. Many of the top names in the NBA have played in the high school tournament, including Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Christian Laettner, Joe Smith and Kevin Garnett. Miller's Cage Classic spawned the growth in the U.S. of AAU basketball tournaments. But his sports affiliation didn't begin with basketball. He began his sandlot baseball managing career in 1956 and managed state championships in three age divisions beginning with Class D title in 1958, a double AA state win in 1967 and finally a Class F team in the West Akron Baseball League one year after the Cage Classic was introduced. His coaching skills placed Jack in the Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame.

  • Conrad Ott
    Administrator 2015
    Andy Palich Award Winner

​Ott was named Superintendent of the Akron Public School system in 1966 and served in that capacity for 25 years until his retirement in 1991. In addition to his many duties in overseeing the operations of the school system, he took a keen interest in its athletic programs. His imprint was instrumental in developing many of the sports programs. He was one of the main backers of introducing a number of sports to the middle schools. He believed that this would improve the caliber of play when these students reached the high school level. Most coaches at that time agreed that the fundamentals taught at the middle school level had a major impact on the future athletes success. His interest didn’t stop there. Throughout his tenure as superintendent he would personally get involved in the selection of coaches throughout the system and be a cheerleader when their teams would be successful. Even going so far as to personally hand deliver letters of congratulations to coaches of championship teams and make a phone call to express his interest and check to see what he could do to improve the program. In other words, he was very aware of the action on the various athletic fields. He attended the traditional Friday night football and basketball games on a regular basis. He and his staff took an active interest in sports and knew the importance of athletics in the development of young people. The most visible sign demonstrating his support of athletics was his introduction of the “Yellow Jackets”. Members of his administration staff wore yellow sports jackets to the games. Easily recognizable, they showed the students and those adults attending how important athletics was to his administration. Ott was a graduate of Eastern Kentucky State University and received his Master of Arts degree in education from the University of Kentucky. He served 16 years in the Louisville school system before he came to Akron. Ott was 83 when he passed away in 2010.

  • Dr. John Sassano
    Administrator 2014
    Andy Palich Award Winner

​SASSANO HAS A HISTORY OF GIVING BACK TO HIS COMMUNITY - FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS, HE HAS HELPED NEARLY EVERY CITY HIGH SCHOOL IN AKRON BY SERVING AS ITS TEAM PHYSICIAN, INCLUDING HIS ALMA MATER – AKRON NORTH. HIS VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES INCLUDE MORE THAN 20 YEARS WITH CYO AND SERVING AS THE BACKSTAGE PHYSICIAN FOR BLOSSOM MUSIC CENTER AND NINE YEARS AS A LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL COACH.

  • Rilla Yeater
    Bowling 2012
    Andy Palich Award Winner

For over 55 years Rilla Yeater has been involved in bowling activities, either as a participant or in the administration segment of the sport. It all started in 1957 after graduation from Garfield High School. She began her working career at General Tire. She was invited to join General's employee bowling league. She enjoyed it and her long love affair with bowling began. It grew from the local lanes in the Akron area to the national stage throughout the United States.

From that initial start at General, Rilla widened her horizons, joining two other city leagues and achievements. She was twice named to the Akron Beacon Journal's All-Star team in 1975 and '78. She captured the 1974 Woman's Bowling Association all-events crown and the singles championship in 1977. Her bowling prowess got her elected to the Tri-County Hall of Fame.

On the national scene, Rilla competed annually in the United Sates Bowling Congress (USBC) Woman's Championship Tournament in Reno, Nevada, making the prize list fairly often. "This is my 43 would like to reach 50, however I don't think I have the energy to do it, she said.

In 1972, she was introduced to the administration side of bowling when she asked to be the publicity chair for the Akron Woman's Bowling Association. She did such a great job that two years later, the group elected her to its Board of Directors. She served as its president from 1992 until 2009 when the group merged with the youth and men's organizations. In the 80's and 90's, she served as a VicePresident and Director for the Ohio Woman's Bowling Association.

She proved to be as talented in management as in competing. When the Woman's International Bowling Congress brought her on board as a Director, she served in this capacity for nine years and then was elected vice-president. Tapping her expertise also was the USBC electing her to its first Board of Directors in 2004. She served four years for the organization that is charged with the responsibility of governing bowling in the United States.

  • Reese Taylor
    Official 2011
    Andy Palich Award Winner

​For more than 20 years, officiated at local high school and college track meets. He was one of the officials that the Ohio High School Athletic Association called on for its district, regional and state championships. In the summer months when schools were on vacation, he sought out amateur track events, such as the Junior and Senior Olympic competitions. In the fall, he turned to cross country contests at both the high school and collegiate levels. He was past president of the Greater Akron Track Officials Association and served as the association's rules interpreter for years. He volunteered to oversee the track competitions for the Corporate Challenge program (now called Community Challenge) since its inception. He was a past president of the Greater Akron Touchdown Club. In addition to his track involvement, Taylor enjoyed his volunteer coaching in Little League baseball and women's fast pitch softball. One of his proudest moments came when his efforts led to the establishment of girl's track as a letter sport at Revere High School.

  • George MacDonald
    Coach 2010
    Andy Palich Award Winner

​Has been a volunteer coach and sports booster mainly for Springfield schools since the 1960s in virtually every sport: track, basketball, soccer, softball, football and baseball. He has helped finance the purchase of equipment and lessons for teams and individuals along with improving Springfield's athletic facilities.

  • Larry Bidlingmyer
    Administrator 2009
    Andy Palich Award Winner

Bidlingmyer, who died in late 2008 after a short illness, was active for decades in Barberton and local sports. He spent 30 years working in Barberton schools before retiring in 2000. He was a teacher, junior high football coach, ninth-grade football coach, assistant varsity football coach and athletic director, among other duties. Bidlingmyer also served two years as varsity football coach at Rootstown High.

He was a SCSHOF board member for 15 years, helped to start the Greynolds Basketball Classic and was a longtime member of the Barberton Parks and Recreation Department board.

  • G. Thomas Floyd Jr.
    Coach, Administrator 2008
    Andy Palich Award Winner

​This Akron native has been actively involved in organized sports covering five decades. A physical education teacher in the Akron Public Schools since 1966, Floyd has coached 24 seasons on the high school and junior high levels involving boy’s basketball and baseball and girl’s basketball and softball. He became involved in the West Akron Baseball League in 1973 as a coach and umpire and recently began his 28th year in the organization. In addition, Floyd has been involved in coaching and administration of the Northwest Akron Youth Basketball Program and the site management and security for Akron Public School sporting events.

  • Michael Staschak
    Basketball, Softball 2004
    Andy Palich Award Winner

It is extremely interesting on how much effect fate has on our lives. In Mike Staschak’s case, if he hadn’t hit a homerun in a celebrity softball game he would not be receiving the Andy Palich Award for 2004. Don Krizo had set up a softball game with a team of celebrities versus a Stow team made up of men 70 years and older. He asked Staschak, the Marketing Director for the Chapel Hill Mall, to participate. After then 62-year old Staschak’s homerun, which aided the celebrity team’s win, he got several congratulatory phone calls. It prompted him to call Krizo and say, “I think we’re onto something here!” That game occurred in 1986 and one year later the Akron Silver League, with competition in softball and basketball, was born. That first year began with only four softball teams. Today there are some 425 or so players on 36 teams in five divisions from age 50 to over 67. The oldest competitor is 83. That first year finished in the red as a few umpires were not paid. The players in 1988 were asked to fork over extra money and restitution was finally made to those unpaid umpires. Today the Silver League softball budget is over $30,000. The organization of the Silver League is unique in that every year a player is on a different team. “We balance each team with four levels of players,” explained Mike, “that way it is very competitive and no one can build a dynasty.” In basketball there are over 100 players in two divisions on 10-12 teams. Staschak has been an active player, manager and officer in both sports. He was president of the softball league the first two years and has been on the board of directors for 18 years. At age 80 Staschak is the oldest player in basketball, where he has been the chief administrator for all 17 years.