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The stars came out at the Albion Sports Night

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 17 August 2020 at 8:58 am

Contributed Photos – The Albion Sports Night annually featured top name sports starts. At left Mickey Mantle talks with event chairman Rich Monacelli at the 1972 event and at right Cal Ripken Jr. checks out the event program in 1983.

A visit from a major sports star to Orleans County is a fairly rare occasion these days. However, that was not the case for a quarter of a century from the early 1960’s to the late 1980’s when each January the Albion Sports Night program brought in Hall of Fame caliber baseball and football stars.

The event was a special one for local sports fans who enjoyed meeting such legendary baseball Hall of Famers as Bob Feller in 1963, Brooks Robinson in 1966, Whitey Ford in 1968, Mickey Mantle in 1972, Hank Aaron in 1974, Willie Stargell in 1980, Cal Ripken Jr. in 1983 and Dave Winfield in 1986.

Local Yankee fans also had an opportunity to see several of their other favorite Bronx Bombers including Elston Howard and Jim Boutin in 1964, Catfish Hunter in 1976, Billy Martin in 1977, Lou Piniella in 1979 and Tommy John in 1982.

Buffalo Bills fans enjoyed meeting Cookie Gilchrist in 1963, Daryl Lamonica in 1965, Jack Kemp in 1966, Ron McDole in 1970 and Joe Delamielleure in 1977.

The list of major football stars who attended over the years also included Lou Groza in 1964, Franco Harris in 1974, Ron Jaworski in 1977 and Jim Crowley of the legendary Notre Dame Four Horseman backfield in 1974.

The program also featured the appearance of local sports guests including football star Tommy Colella and baseball ace Carl Fischer.

The driving force behind the program over its three decades was its Chairman, Rich Monacelli, who each year came up with a star leaden lineup.

Monacelli had the knack for being able to bring in a top star just after they had a big season including Stargell just after he helped lead the “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates to the World Series championship in the fall of 1979, and Ripken after he had earned Rookie of the Year honors in helping the Baltimore Orioles win the 1982 World Series.

It was a family oriented program that provided a great opportunity for local sports fames to meet, shake hands with and get an autograph from some of the day’s top pr athletes.

Unfortunately skyrocketing appearance fees commanded by top major league baseball and football stars ended up doing in the annual event.