Jun 27, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
John Desko, who led Syracuse University to another NCAA men’s lacrosse championship this spring, highlights the seven-member 2008 class of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.
Desko joins baseball legend Tom Dotterer, three-sports Star Chris Jones, college basketball referee Mike Kitts, Olympic athlete Myer Prinstein, college football official John T. Smith and Syracuse female athletic pioneer Doris Soladay in this year’s class. Both Prinstein and Soladay are posthumous inductees.
All will be honored on Oct. 20 at the annual Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame Dinner, to be held again at Drumlins Country Club and televised by Time Warner Sports.
Desko played three sports at West Genesee High School, including lacrosse under legendary coach Mike Messere, before his playing days at SU. Upon graduation, he immediately became an assistant coach under Roy Simmons Jr. and stayed in that capacity for 19 years as SU’s teams went 229-43 and won six national championships.
In 1999, Desko was chosen to succeed Simmons as SU’s head coach, and the Orange have achieved four more national titles in his decade at the helm, the ’08 championship coming after wins in 2000, 2002 and 2004.
A coach of the U.S. National team in the 2006 World Games, Desko and his wife, Cindy, have four children — the oldest of which, Tim, followed in his father’s footsteps as a lacrosse star at West Genesee before going to SU.
Tom Dotterer is the son of “Dutch” and the brother of Henry Dotterer, both of whom are in the Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame. Now, Tom gets his turn.
A 1953 graduate of Christian Brothers Academy, Dotterer reached the AAA level in the professional baseball ranks and, in 1962, played seven games for the Syracuse Chiefs, hitting .417 as a true hometown hero.
Since 1980, Dotterer has been head baseball coach at his alma mater, CBA. In his 29 seasons at the helm, the Brothers have won a long list of league and Section III titles, including the 1996 state Class C championship. Just last spring, CBA won another sectional title and advanced to the state Class B final four. He is already enshrined in CBA’s Athletic Hall of Fame and, with his wife Joanne, runs a liquor store on North Salina Street on the city’s north side.
Chris Jones was born in Utica, but made his athletic name at Liverpool High School, where he was a three-sport star — an All-American in 1983 in basketball, an All-State selection in football, and a standout in baseball.
Turning down a football scholarship from Rutgers, Jones signed with the Cincinnati Reds and, in 1991, made it to the parent club, where he hit .292 in 52 games. He also saw stints with the New York Mets, San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks, plus two tours with the Syracuse Chiefs in 1999 and 2001 before a managing stint with the Newark Bears.
Mike Kitts grew up in Syracuse and graduated from St. Anthony’s in 1968. After attending Onondaga Community College and working in the county’s Parks and Recreation department, he began officiating basketball games in 1979 at the high-school level.
In just six years, Kitts rose through the ranks, from high school to Division III, then Division II, and finally the NCAA Division I ranks in 1985. For more than two decades, Kitts has officiated games in every major conference and in the NCAA Tournament, four times getting the biggest assignment of all — the Final Four. He lives in East Syracuse with his wife, Angela, and two children.
Myer Prinstein was born in Russia in 1880, then moved to America as a child, settling in Syracuse. He went to Syracuse University, captained the track and field team, and moved on to international competition in the long jump.
In 1900, Prinstein earned a silver medal at the Paris Olympics in the long jump, then won gold medals in both the long jump and triple jump in the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis and prevailed again in the long jump in 1906 in Athens. Upon retirement as an athlete, he practiced law and worked in business in Jamaica, Queens, before passing away in 1925.
John T. Smith, a high school teacher, first gained athletic notice in 1980 when he coached the Fowler High School track and field team to a league championship, dethroning long-time power CBA. He also served as an assistant coach for the famed GP Express semi-pro football team that won national titles in 1985 and ’87.
As far as officiating goes, Smith started with high school football in 1981 and, in eight years’ time, moved up to the NCAA Division I ranks. He stayed there 17 years, eventually becoming a crew chief for Big East games before retiring in 2006. His most famous game was the 1993 Boston College upset of no. 1-ranked Notre Dame in South Bend. Smith also worked 20 years as a high-school basketball official.
Doris Saladay was born in 1931 in New Mexico. Following college study in Colorado, she came to Syracuse University in 1960 and devoted her career to promoting women’s athletics at SU and making sure the landmark Title IX ruling of 1972 was enforced.
Saladay was SU’s first Director of Women’s Athletics, a title she carried until 1992, when the men’s and women’s athletic departments at the university merged and she became associate athletic director. During that time, she served with all kinds of local athletic organizations, from the YWCA to the Syracuse Chargers and Syracuse Sports Corporation. She passed away in 2001.
In all, 168 sports figures have been named to the Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame in the 21 years since it was founded in 1987.