Four decades after realizing his dream of starting a hall of fame to honor sports heroes, George Randazzo, President and Founder of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, celebrated the organization’s 40th Annual Induction & Awards Gala along with Board Chairman Tony Ferraro, NIASHF directors and loyal supporters this past November in Chicago.
Vincent Viola was named 2017 Sportsman of the Year for his outstanding contributions to the world of sports. He is owner of the Florida Panthers hockey team and co-owner of Always Dreaming, winner of the 2017 Kentucky Derby, the first leg of horse racing’s prestigious Triple Crown.
Viola shared the stage with 2017 inductees John Carpino (baseball), Mike Adamle (football), Barry Zito (baseball), Doug Bruno (basketball), Mike Manganello (horse racing) and the Acerra Brothers (baseball). Rick Porcello (baseball) was also named 2017 Athlete of the Year.
The evening included several inspiring speeches by the honorees highlighted by Zito’s remarks. He admitted finding a “silver lining through adversity” after being left off the 2010 World Series roster by San Francisco, only to resurrect his career two years later and help the Giants win the MLB crown in 2012.
Eddie Greco of Greco & Sons Foods chaired the dinner attended by more than 700 at the Westin River North Hotel in Chicago. The program was co-emceed by 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza and New York Mets Radio Announcer Wayne Randazzo.
Located on Taylor Street in Chicago, the NIASHF is a four-story, 35,000-square-foot structure that houses the Sports Hall of Fame museum and several spacious banquet facilities. Founded in 1977, the organization has enshrined more than 240 Italian-American sports legends, and provides charitable support locally and nationally to a wide array of community based initiatives.
Submitted by the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame
Photos by Scott Romer Photography