WILKES-BARRE — The Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame will hold its annual conference and induction dinner in Luzerne County next year and local chapter leaders hope local athletes are voted into the prestigious organization.
Merle Mackin, director of the Luzerne County Convention and Visitors Bureau, made the announcement at a board meeting Tuesday, noting the three-day event will be held at The Woodlands in Plains Township.
Carol Hurley, head of the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame chapter, said Joe Amato, noted drag racing champion, and Harry “Fritz” Dorish, a former major league baseball pitcher, have been nominated for induction into the state Hall of Fame next year. The inductees won’t be announced until March, Hurley said.
“We’re honored that Luzerne County has been selected as the site for this prestigious event,” Mackin said. “This will be a boost to the local economy and we will receive statewide recognition in the media.”
Hurley said the convention location is moved each year and being selected is a significant honor for the county.
“Now we have to wait to see if our two nominees — Joe Amato and Fritz Dorish — are approved for induction,” she said.
In 10 years in the American League, Dorish, who died in 2000, compiled a 45-43 win-loss record and a 3.83 earned run average. He pitched for the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles.
Amato, 69, now a successful real estate developer, won the National Hot Rod Association Top Fuel championship five times — a record — and he racked up 52 career victories. Amato is credited with being the first driver to exceed 260 mph and 280 mph in the standing-start, quarter-mile competition.
In other business, the board announced it will submit its 2014 budget in the same amount as 2013 — $524,650. Mackin said no funding will be asked for or received from the county. He said the main source of revenue is the hotel tax at around $460,000. Mackin said the Mohegan Sun Hotel in Plains Township is scheduled to open in November, but he said he could not estimate what affect it will have on the county revenue.
Up until two years ago, the agency did receive some funding from the county — but that amount declined from as high as $100,000 to $40,000 two years ago.
He said state funding also has been lost. The last state allocation was around $107,000, he said. To compensate for the lost revenues, Mackin said the budget was reduced significantly.