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Curve, Navasky both err

December 19, 2007
By Neil Rudel
Catching up with some recent news items in sports worthy of comment while wondering how much money Bear Bryant would be making today:

ITEM: Strawberry scratched from Hot Stove.

The announcement of Darryl Strawberry as the keynote to the Curve’s annual Hot Stove Banquet Jan. 25 raised some eyebrows.

The former Major League Baseball standout’s checkered past that includes drug and spousal abuse brought criticism on his selection and understandably so.

When he received inexcusable religious and racial threats, promoter Chuck Navasky pulled out of the dinner. That is unfortunate because Navasky’s presence helped deliver some notable names over the past couple of years.

From this view, Navasky stretched his usual good judgment, and the Curve, whose name is on the banquet, erred by not nixing the selection of Strawberry before announcing it.

Here’s hoping the relationship can be repaired in the future because both seemed to offer a lot for the common cause, which is raising money to fight cancer.

ITEM: Hollidaysburg grad hits PGA Tour.

This flew under the radar during football season, but Ryan Garrity achieved a unique distinction with an appearance in the Ginn sur Mer Classic in October.

The 1991 Hollidaysburg Area High School graduate is believed to be the first Blair County product to play in a PGA event. Never mind that he missed the cut. Garrity shot 2-under the first day in what hopefully can be a springboard to 2008.

ITEM: NBA season hits quarter pole.

And it’s done so for the first time in 10 years without Altoona’s Danny Fortson.

The former local bruising forward spent a decade with five teams before his contract ended with Seattle after last season.

Fortson divides time these days between the homes he owns in Cincinnati and Fort Lauderdale.

ITEM: Don Appleman enshrined.

In the current Williamsburg girls basketball coach, the Pennsylvania Basketball Hall of Fame, started by former Bishop Guilfoyle coach Bill Gaffey, picked arguably Blair County’s best representative to the game.

Appleman was a standout high school player at Williamsburg — his 2,100 career points held the Blair County scoring record for 30 years — and a double-figure contributor at St. Francis (1963-65).

He’s also spent the majority of the past 40 years coaching high school basketball.

The state Hall of Fame is relatively new, and it made an excellent choice in Appleman.

ITEM: St. Francis inducts six.

While all of the latest SFU Athletics Hall of Fame inductees are deserving, it was especially nice to see Father Vincent Negherbon included.

Father Vince is a long-time pillar of the school who played an important role in the relationship with Maurice Stokes. Unfortunately, declining health prevented him from attending the banquet, but he was there in spirit.

Also present in spirit was the late Art Martynuska, another special man to those who go back into the 1960s and ’70s with St. Francis athletics.

Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or nrudel@altoona. His blog, ‘‘once a sports guy,’’ can also be found at

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