The Blair County Sports Hall of Fame has brought some big names to the county as its guest speaker in the past.
None may be bigger for this area, both literally and figuratively, than the one the Hall has secured for its 15th banquet this April. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be the special guest for the April 28 induction ceremony, which will be the 25th anniversary of the Blair Hall, at the Blair County Convention Center.
"With it being our 25th anniversary, we thought it would be appropriate to get a blockbuster name,'' Blair Hall president Dave Andrews said. "And we have that with Ben Roethlisberger.''
Roethlisberger, 29, is a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback now in his eighth year in the NFL. He is second behind Terry Bradshaw, a former Hall of Fame speaker, in nearly every Steelers passing category and has thrown for 2,877 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions for the 7-3 Steelers this season.
Roethlisberger, 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, will be the second active Steelers player to speak at the Hall of Fame dinner, following receiver Hines Ward in 2008.
"Ben's agent went to Hines, and he spoke highly of our event,'' Andrews said. "It was something that interested Ben's agent, and Ben accepted right away. He wanted to speak for an organization that honors student athletes and local sports heroes.''
Guest(s) of honor
Blair County Sports Hall of Fame guest speakers:
2012: Ben Roethlisberger
2010: Chris Fowler
2008: Hines Ward
2006: Greg Gumbel
2004: Jim Boeheim
2002: Bobby Bowden
2000: Rick Majerus
1998: Mary Lou Retton
1996: Joe Theismann
1994: Dick Vitale
1992: Bob Knight
1990: Roy Firestone
1989: Terry Bradshaw
1988: Paul Evans
1987: Joe Paterno
The choice of Roethlisberger could also be considered controversial, considering his well-documented off-the-field problems over the last several years. Andrews said the Hall committee took that into consideration before giving it the OK.
"What's been evident the last year or two is that Ben has grown into a team leader and has matured,'' Andrews said. "He's married now. We invited him to bring his wife [the former Ashley Harlan, a St. Francis University graduate] as well.''
Set for induction April 28 are former St. Francis basketball player and current Williamsburg coach Don Appleman, former Maryland football player Todd Benson, former minor league baseball player Harold "Bucky" Bush, former Duquesne University and WNBA player Candace Futrell, former Villanova basketball player Allen Griffith and Tyrone Area High School's PIAA championship football team of 1999.
Tickets are $85 each or $850 for tables of 10. Corporate packages, which include 10 tickets to Saturday night's banquet, 10 tickets to Friday night's inductees reception and a photo with Roethlisberger, are also available.
"We will have a big night with Big Ben,'' Andrews said. "I know we did with Hines, and I would expect the same situation here. There's no question that there is Steeler mania in this area.''
For information, call Kathy Millward at 296-2302.