NFL, NBA, MLB Alums Highlight Newest Class of Joliet Area Sports Hall of Fame
Since there was no ceremony last year, the classes of 2020 and 2021 will be inducted Friday into the Joliet Area Sports Hall of Fame!
It will include a local athletes that spent time in the NFL, NBA, MLB, a pro softball player, and a wrestling coach with more rings than fingers on one hand!
Former Providence Catholic High School wrestling coach Keith Healy won six state championships in a row in his 14 trips to the state finals meet. His success spans across a 27 year career at the helm of the Celtics.
Joining Healy in the class of 2021 is former big leaguer Scott Spiezio.
Spiezio followed in his father Ed’s footsteps on all levels, including now joining him as a member of the Joliet Area Sports Hall of Fame. The pair also became the first father/son duo to win two World Series apiece, including both doing so with the St. Louis Cardinals organization at least once. Ed was part of the Cardinals’ 1964 and 1967 titles, while Scott captured his crowns with the Los Angeles Angels (2002) and the Cardinals (2006). During the post–season of both runs, Scott was clutch,including in 2002 when he tied the Major League Baseball post–season record of 19 runs batted in. Over his 12 year–career, that also included stops in Oakland and Seattle, Spiezio batted .255 with 996 hits, 119 home runs and 549 runs batted in. A switch hitter, he also played every position on the field with the exception of center field and catcher during his career.
Both individuals represent the 14th class of the Joliet Area Sports Hall of Fame and will be inducted on Friday, July 23 at the Joliet Area Historical Museum. They will be joined by Pete Bercich, Samantha Findlay and Alando Tucker, who were voted in last summer, but had their Hall of Fame ceremony moved to 2021 due to the pandemic.
Bercich, an all–state linebacker at Providence Catholic High School,was selected in the seventh round of the 1994 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings and went on to play six seasons with the team, appearing in 57 games. He also was a part of Providence’s first–ever football state championship team in 1987 as a sophomore. Two years later, he authored 124 tackles, three interceptions and three fumbles in gaining the all–state accolades before signing a letter of intent with University of Notre Dame. A member of the Chicago Catholic League, Providence Catholic and Chicago Sports Halls of Fame, Bercich has served as a color commentator for the Vikings on KFAN Radio in Minneapolis since 2007.
Findlay, a 2004 graduate of Lockport High School, provided one of the most dramatic moments in the history of NCAA softball when she delivered a three–run home run in the top of the tenth inning of the 2005 championship game to propel the University of Michigan to its first–ever national title in the sport. Just a rookie that year, Findlay finished second in the nation with 77 runs batted in, while tying the Wolverines’ then–record for home runs in a season (21) en route to earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year recognition and Women’s College World Series most valuable player honors.For her career, Findlay ranks among the top ten players in Michigan history in no less than seven categories, including the top spot in grand slams (seven) and a No. 2 billing in home runs (62), runs batted in (219) and slugging percentage (.677). A four–time All–Big Ten selection, Findlay closed out her collegiate career by earning All–America honors in 2008. She went on to play three seasons of professional softball for the Chicago Bandits and one year for the USSSA Pride, finishing her career with 31 home runs and 73 runs batted in.
Tucker, who also hailed from Lockport High School and graduated two years before Findlay, holds the distinction of being University of Wisconsin’s all–time leading scorer in basketball with 2,217 points. That earned him induction into the Badgers’ Hall of Fame in 2018. An all–state selection his senior year in high school, Tucker closed out his collegiate career in similar fashion five years later when he was named a First Team All–American and the Big Ten Player of the Year. Tucker was also a two–time All–Big Ten first–team choice. A first–round selection and the 29thpick overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns, Tucker went on to play three years in the NBA followed by a seven–year run overseas.
Tickets for next Friday’s event are available for $15 each on the Museum website (www.jolietmuseum.org/) and include both admission to the ceremony and a light food bar. Doors open at 5:30 pm for the food and cash bar with the induction ceremony to take place at 7 pm.
For more information about the Joliet Area Sports Hall of Fame, please contact Greg Peerbolte at the Museum (815–723–5201) or Dave Laketa at University of St. Francis (815–263–3842)