Northeast Times

Oldtimers honor 3 more local greats at luncheon

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 ••

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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