A former minor league baseball player, a rock ’n’ roll legend and a Hobo are the latest winners of the William “Pickles” Kennedy Award.
The Oldtimers Bats and Balls Association, a group of former athletes and officials, presents the awards four times a year during luncheons at Randi’s Restaurant & Bar, at 1619 Grant Ave. in Grant Plaza II in Bustleton.
The most recent honorees are Bill Batty, Dick Richards and Gaeton “Bo” Siciliano.
Batty, who died in 2007, was a Mayfair native and Abraham Lincoln High School graduate. An infielder and excellent No. 2 hitter, he played for Sanford (Fla.), Fresno (Calif.) and Albany (Ga.) in the St. Louis Cardinals organization in 1953-54 before arm troubles forced him to retire. He served two stints in the U.S. Army. His award was accepted by his wife, Elaine. His daughter, granddaughter and grandson were also in attendance.
Richards is best known as the original drummer for Bill Haley & His Comets, whose smash hit was Rock Around the Clock. So, why did he receive a sports award?
As Dick Boccelli, he was a star football and baseball player for West Chester. He’s a member of West Chester’s Football Hall of Fame.
After the Comets, he played with The Jodimars. He also had guest spots on TV shows such as Kojak and The Equalizer. At 89, he still performs on tour and on cruises with a current edition of the Comets.
At the Oldtimers’ event, there were pictures of him at the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony; at the Hollywood Rock Walk of Fame; at the dedication of a historical marker in Wildwood, N.J.; at the music hot spot of Branson, Mo.; with entertainers Andy Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tony Orlando and Charo; and with Steve Martin in the film My Blue Heaven.
Siciliano is a Northeast High School graduate. He was an umpire and a football player, but is most admired for his role with the Philadelphia Hobos, known as the “Clown Princes of Softball.” He played the role of Mighty Mite.
Among those attending the May 8 luncheon were Rickie Ricardo, the Spanish broadcaster for the Phillies and Eagles and a WIP (94 FM) sports talk host; Bobby Shantz, a former American League Most Valuable Player; Joe Scarpati, a former pro football player best known as the holder for Tom Dempsey’s NFL-record 63-yard field goal in 1970; and Doug Clemens, a former Phillies outfielder.
The next Oldtimers luncheon will be at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 14. Future meetings will be on Nov. 13 and Feb. 12, 2014. Lunch costs $11.
For more information on the group, call Chuck Newns (215-612-0476), Ron Fritz (215-491-9380), Jack Purdy (215-968-0404) or Ron March (609-209-0849), or visit www.batsandballs.org ••