Parks, Rec and Marine Honors 2010 Inductees to Baseball and Softball Hall of Fame

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Photo by Kris Robinson

On Saturday, September 18, The City of Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine hosted this year’s Baseball and Softball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Blair Field. The ceremony included an unveiling of the new Wall of Fame at 11:30am, a Meet and Greet with the recognized players at 12:30pm, and the official honoring and announcements of the inductees at 1pm.

Blair Field is the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Joe Rogers Field is home to the Softball Hall of Fame. The Baseball and Softball Halls of Fame recognize Long Beach athletes, coaches and/or administrators who have made a positive impact on the City. Teams were also eligible candidates for the recognition.

This year’s Baseball Hall of Fame inductees included Damion Easley, Jerry Gardner, George Lederer, Ray McKinstry, Dan Peters, and Jack Rothrock.

Damien Easley is a major league player from Lakewood High and Long Beach City College who had a standout career with the Angels and Tigers between 1992 and 2002 before retiring from the Mets in 2007. He led the American League in putouts, assists, and fielding range at second base in 1998, earning him a spot on the All-Star team as well as the Sporting News Silver Slugger award.

Jerry Gardner was a standout catcher at Jordan High School and was almost signed to the St. Louis Cardinals before his career was interrupted by World War II. He returned to the Pros in 1947 as a player-manager, and spent 40 years as a major league scout for the Pittsburg Pirates.

George Lederer is a renowned sports writer who began his career with sports writing and editing at Wilson High, Long Beach City College, and the Long Beach Independent before being hired by the Dodgers when they first arrived to Los Angeles in 1958. He missed only two games in his 11-year span with the team, allowing him to report on four World Series before leaving to become Angels’ Publicity and Promotions Director.

Ray McKinstry organized several districts of American Legion play each summer in Long Beach and ¬South Bay for 40 years, which involved registering players on over 40 teams per summer, arranging schedules for three months of games, and finding people to keep score and track stats of every seasons’ games. He organized the annual state tournament as well, and managed the Peterson Post team made up of Long Beach Poly’s 1963 CIF title players who would go on to win the American Legion title.

Dan Peters is one of the few who can say they both played on and coached a CIF title team. In his career as head coach of the Millikan Rams for nearly 25 years he led his team to six Moore League titles, three CIF championships, and 507 career wins.

Jack Rothrock holds Long Beach’s title of our city’s first player to reach the majors. After leaving Long Beach Poly in 1923 he was signed to the Boston Red Sox, where he was first recognized for playing all nine positions in a single season in 1928. By the time he reached the Cardinals, he was leading the National League in games played, plate appearances, and at-bats before helping to lead his team to a World Series Championship in 1934. Rothrock started all 154 games in right field that season, hitting .284 with a career high of 11 home runs and 72 RBI’s. He made significant contributions on the plate in every Cardinal win over Detroit to win the Series title.

The Softball Hall of Fame inductees included Meredith Cervenka, Kristi Fox, Darrel Kam, Al Savala, and Hice Stiles.

Meredith Cervenka is one of Long Beach State’s greatest pitchers, throwing eight perfect games and posting a streak of 292 innings with an ERA of zero at La Crescenta High before winning 20 games as a freshman at CSULB. She would go on to win 15 in 2003, 20 in 2004 and 23 in 2005 to garner the school’s career records for 78 wins, 634 strikeouts in a career, and 191 strikeouts in a season, during which she also won the title of Big West Pitcher of the Year.

Kristi Fox set a high standard for Cervenka with her three-season career for the 49ers. She earned the Big West Pitcher of the Year title in 1999, leading the team into the postseason all three seasons and ranking 3rd in career wins at the school with 64.

Darrell Kam is a second base Long Beach Nitehawks star joining a long line of his teammates in the Hall of Fame, who was named “one of the best second basemen around” by manager Red Meairs. He continued his career with Al Savala and the Long Beach Painters, who won five straight American Softball Assn. Titles on the Masters teams from 1998-2002.

Al Savala was already a well-respected pitcher and player of the game before creating his own team, the Long Beach Painters, who would succeed the Nitehawks as the area’s dominant team. The Painters went to the International Softball Congress world tournament four times between 1993 and 1998, winning the tournament’s Sportsmanship Award and fifth place in 1994. Savala has been a major supporter of softball on every level, sponsoring and donating to youth teams, Long Beach City College, and Long Beach State. A painter by trade, he has also offered his services to paint Long Beach and Lakewood’s sports facilities for free.

Hice Stiles became a top star as a left-handed hitter and outfielder in the 70’s. His career spanned across five teams, eight ISC world tournaments, three all-world teams, and an ISC championship with the 1975 Nighthawks. In 1978, he led the tournament in hitting at .545. Stiles was inducted to the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame in 2001.

For more information on the Blair Field and Joe Rogers Field Halls of Fame, please contact the Sports Office at (562) 570-1725. For information on other activities offered by Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine, call (562) 570-3100 or visit online.

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