Jul 14, 2021
LEWISTOWN –The recently formed Mifflin County Sports Hall of Fame has announced its inaugural class of inductees following a vote by the 159 charter members.
From a list of 45 names submitted, the six individuals chosen include Ralph Baker, Cindy Lou Baxter, Dave Bradley, Fran Fisher, Charles “Tim” Thompson and coach Alex Ufema. The Lewistown girls 1996-97 and 1997-98 PIAA championship teams were also inducted as a part of the inaugural class.
Lewistown High School grad Ralph Baker, who starred at linebacker for Penn State and coach Rip Engle and later for the New York Jets in the AFL/NFL. He started 135 of 145 games during his 11 years of pro football. Baker’s six tackles and one fumble recovery in Super Bowl III helped the Jets and quarterback Joe Namath defeat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. Baker retired after the 1974 season, but returned to the Jets as an assistant coach for five seasons.
Penn Highlands High School grad Cindy Lou Baxter is being honored for her multiple titles nationally and internationally in the sport of racquetball. Early in her career she became the first American athlete to win three consecutive gold medals in the International Racquetball Federation World Games. In addition, Cindy garnered 16 national titles and was twice named Sportswoman of the Year in Racquetball by the United States Olympic Committee. In 1991 she was inducted into the USA Racquetball Hall of Fame.
In his senior year playing football at Chief Logan High School, the late Dave Bradley was a first team all-state selection by both the AP and UPI and a member of the 1965 Big 33 team that played Texas at Hershey Stadium. Bradley went on to Penn State, positioned at guard and tackle. He was the starting tackle for the Nittany Lions’ 1969 Orange Bowl championship team. Dave participated in the 1969 Senior and Hula Bowl games. He was later honored by being named to the All-Penn State 1960’s decade team. Bradley was a second round pick by the Green Bay Packers in 1969, playing four years in the NFL with the Packers and Cardinals and one year for the Chicago Fire in the WFL. Dave passed away in 2010.
The late radio personality Fran Fisher came to the area in 1962 joining the staff of WKVA Radio. Fisher’s play-by-play talents extended from Little League Baseball to auto racing at the Port Royal Speedway. He’ll probably be best remembered for his call of the 1963 Class C basketball state championship game won by Rothrock High School. Fisher then became the “Voice of Penn State Football” for three decades, and broadcasted the Nittany Lions’ 1983 Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia, which gave Penn State its first national championship in football. Fran died in 2015.
Charles “Tim” Thompson is the other individual selected. A native of Coalport, Tim’s family relocated to Mifflin County and Thompson became a distinguished graduate of Lewistown High. Thompson, a catcher, played professional baseball from 1947-1962, including nearly 1,500 minor league games, mostly at the Triple-A level. He played four major league seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Kansas City Athletics, and the Detroit Tigers. Among his teammates were Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, PeeWee Reese, Duke Snider, and Gil Hodges. With the help of Tommy Lasorda, Thompson then began a 35-year stint as a baseball scout for the St. Louis and Baltimore organizations.
In the team category for the Hall of Fame, two teams will share the honor, although the teams overlap. The 1996-97 and 1997-98 Lewistown High School girls’ basketball teams, coached by Kevin Kodish, won back-to-back state Class 3A championships. Over the two years the teams compiled a phenomenal record of 63-1.
The 1996-97 team included: Ashley Miear, Krista Gingrich, Sweeta Hutchinson, Maggie Johnston, Mackenzie Moser, Jenna Feathers, Kimberly Maxwell, Melissa Merrill, Hillary Worley, Andi Zampelli, Enid Dunmire, Niki Snyder, Heather McElwain, Gina Soccio, and Jada Pursel, with head coach Kevin Kodish and assistants Ron Mills and Charlie Funk, with scorer Jim Fosselman.
Players on the ’97-’98 team included Katie Wear, Jada Pursel, Kimberly Maxwell, Heather McElwain, Krista Gingrich, Maggie Johnston, Jenna Feathers, Jessy Wear, Heather Wheeler, Gina Soccio, Hillary Worley, Niki Snyder, Andi Zampelli, Kelli Altiery, Rebecca Getz, Haley Knable, and Erin Searer. Again, coached by Kodish, Mills, and Funk, with Fosselman as scorer.
The Class of 2021 athletes will join legendary Lewistown High School football coach Alex Ufema in the new Hall of Fame. Ufema had been so honored in the 1980’s by the now-defunct Mifflin-Juniata Hall of Fame. The new organization felt it was only proper to start the new hall by including Ufema. Alex coached during the Golden Age of Lewistown football, compiling a record of 121-51-6 from 1946 to 1963, recording three perfect seasons in 1951, 1957, and 1958.
Ufema and Baker were also previously enshrined in the Pennsylvania State Sports Hall of Fame.
The date for the induction ceremony will be announced in the near future.
Board president Jon Zimmerman commented that the local hall of fame should have been started 50 years ago.
“We have a glorious sports history in Mifflin County,” Zimmerman said. “Let’s continue to honor and perpetuate the memory of the men and women who have brought fame and recognition to Mifflin County through their achievements, or otherwise have made positive contributions to the promotion of athletic excellence in Mifflin County.”
Mifflin County Sports Hall of Fame membership is open to all. The cost is $25 annually. Checks should be made payable to: Mifflin County Sports Hall of Fame, P.O. Box 989, Lewistown, PA 17044.