2014-04-10 / Front Page

All-Sports Hall Of Fame Inaugural Induction Held

Six recognized by McConnellsburg Alumni & Friends Association
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz


Local sports enthusiasts, family and friends packed the McConnellsburg Alumni & Friends Association building Friday night to pay homage to six residents who made sizeable achievements in the sporting world. Local sports enthusiasts, family and friends packed the McConnellsburg Alumni & Friends Association building Friday night to pay homage to six residents who made sizeable achievements in the sporting world. NEWS EDITOR

Passion, practice and pride.

According to Emmy Award winner and motivational speaker Todd Newton, those three characteristics are the difference between a champion and a winner. Last Friday night, Newton addressed a crowd of around 280 who gathered at the Mc- Connellsburg Alumni & Friends building to pay homage to six “winners” as part of the inaugural induction into the Fulton County All Sports Hall of Fame.

Clyde Barnhart

Dave Hoover, master of ceremonies and a member of the induction Selection Committee, stated until recently most local residents had never heard of the late Clyde Barnhart, the only Fulton County resident to ever play Major League Baseball. Known as “Pooch,” the Buck Valley man debuted for the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 22, 1920. He retired from the game in 1928 with a lifetime batting average of .295.


Victor Barnhart, right, accepts a 2014 Fulton County Hall of Fame Award in memory of his father, Major League Baseball player Clyde Barnhart, from master of ceremonies Dave Hoover. Victor Barnhart, right, accepts a 2014 Fulton County Hall of Fame Award in memory of his father, Major League Baseball player Clyde Barnhart, from master of ceremonies Dave Hoover. During those eight years, the third baseman, who also doubled as an outfielder, played in two World Series. The Pirates were victorious against the Washington Senators in 1922 but fell to the New York Yankees in 1927. Barnhart currently holds the Major League record having secured a hit in each game of a triple header played in one day.

The one-of-a-kind Fulton County All-Sports Hall of Fame Award was presented to Barnhart’s son, Victor, who also coincidentally played for the Pirates between 1944 and 1946 as a shortstop and third baseman.


The late John Gracey of New Grenada was among the six athletes honored Friday night in a first-ever induction ceremony. John's wife, Mary, left, is presented his Hall of Fame Award by daughter Joni Park. The late John Gracey of New Grenada was among the six athletes honored Friday night in a first-ever induction ceremony. John's wife, Mary, left, is presented his Hall of Fame Award by daughter Joni Park. “Fulton County did have some great stars and Clyde was one of them,” Hoover said.

John Gracey

Pointing out that the establishment of the All- Sports Hall of Fame here has been a project many years in the making, McConnellsburg Alumni & Friends Association President Kathy Kendall pointed out her only regret was that it wasn’t accomplished prior to the passing of New Grenada resident John Gracey. “He would have been standing here shaking everyone’s hand as they came in tonight,” Kendall said.

Well known for his participation in the Iron Man competition in Hawaii in the mid-1980s, Gracey finished in 815th place out of 1,200 competitors. He would later combine his love of cross-country skiing with rifle marksmanship and qualified on three occasions for the Empire State Games.


Cannons rained down confetti over Marcia Stephens, left to right, Elisa Wiley, Robert Snyder II, C. Tom Peck, Mary Gracey, Carl Paylor and Victor Barnhart at the conclusion of the awards banquet Friday night. Cannons rained down confetti over Marcia Stephens, left to right, Elisa Wiley, Robert Snyder II, C. Tom Peck, Mary Gracey, Carl Paylor and Victor Barnhart at the conclusion of the awards banquet Friday night. In his later years, Gracey competed in the National Senior Olympics and Pennsylvania Senior Games, bringing home the gold in the compound bow. In crossbow, he was renowned for his membership with the United States Crossbow Team and travelled overseas five times for competition. He was the only American to win the gold.

His daughter, Joni Park, presented the 2014 Hall of Fame Award to her mother, Mary Gracey. Park said John was still in our memories and hearts. She stated even though he may have travelled around the world, Fulton County was always home.


Minor league baseball player Carl Paylor led the audience in a rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” to close out his speech. Minor league baseball player Carl Paylor led the audience in a rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” to close out his speech. Carl Paylor

Minor league baseball player Carl Paylor accepted his momentous award from his nephew, Craig Paylor, who said his uncle and father were his heroes growing up. He referred to Carl as a “good athlete, great sportsman a true gentleman.”

Taking a few moments to address the crowd April 4, Paylor said he was truly honored to have been selected and in the company of the five other local athletes and their families. Following his “true love of baseball,” Paylor played for the farm team affiliates of the Cincinnati Reds for six seasons, appearing in his first big game four days after graduating from McConnellsburg High School. During those six seasons in the minor league, Paylor played in a total of 614 games and batted 2,291 times. During his at bats, he tallied 641 hits, which included 105 doubles, 28 triples and 27 home runs. His batting average was .280.


NASCAR driver C. Tom Peck, left, of McConnellsburg accepts a 2014 Hall of Fame Award from friend and racing enthusiast Greg Garland. NASCAR driver C. Tom Peck, left, of McConnellsburg accepts a 2014 Hall of Fame Award from friend and racing enthusiast Greg Garland. The following two years, in 1957 and 1958, he played in the Mandak League, an independent baseball league that spanned the Dakotas and Manitoba. Even though he gave up baseball, his love of sports continued. In 1960, Paylor began a 35-year career with the Har-Tru Corp., builders of world class tennis courts.

He closed out his acceptance speech urging the crowd to sing along to a recorded rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”

C. Tom Peck

C. Tom Peck took over the wheel at age 17, close friend and fan Greg Garland told the crowd Friday, running the dirt tracks at Hagerstown, Md., and later at Charlotte through NASCAR’s Busch Grand National Circuit. Garland said Peck amassed the largest fan club in the Busch series during his racing career with its T-shirts, hats and bus trips to the track. The club would eventually number more than 900 members hailing from 22 different states and Canada.


Former McConnellsburg High School track coach Mathern Mellott, right, presented an award to All-American Robert “Bobby” Snyder II. Former McConnellsburg High School track coach Mathern Mellott, right, presented an award to All-American Robert “Bobby” Snyder II. Accepting the Hall of Fame Award from Garland, Peck shared his memories of the McConnells- burg Alumni & Friends building, which was formerly McConnellsburg High School. Peck said as a youngster he stood in the corner of the building waiting in line for Nellie Fox’s autograph. Fast forward almost 45 years, it would be Peck’s fans standing in line waiting Friday night.

He said the award was a testimony and honor to his family who endured many sacrifices and financial hardships. Regardless of the family’s travels, no sight would ever be more beautiful than crossing the mountain into McConnellsburg, stated Peck.


Elisa Wiley, left, accepts an award in memory of her mother, the late Rosalie Hixson Wiherin. On hand for the presentation was Wiherin’s sister, Marcia Stephens, center, and McConnellsburg Alumni & Friends Association President Kathy Kendall. Elisa Wiley, left, accepts an award in memory of her mother, the late Rosalie Hixson Wiherin. On hand for the presentation was Wiherin’s sister, Marcia Stephens, center, and McConnellsburg Alumni & Friends Association President Kathy Kendall. He said he was proud to have influenced many individuals in a positive manner during his time on the track. However, the two individuals who were touted to have the biggest impact on Peck were Frank Plessinger and Mark Thomas.

Robert Snyder II

Former McConnellsburg High School track coach Mathern Mellott said he was “privileged” to have helped Robert “Bobby” Snyder II along the road to what would be an extremely successful running career in the 1970s and 80s. Mellott referred to Snyder’s records and victories as too many to count and mentioned him being a “team player” always there to help and encourage his teammates.

Accepting the 2014 award, Snyder took several photos of the crowd that filled the old high school to capacity for the induction ceremony and banquet. “Sometimes something happens that you didn’t look or ask for, but you cherish it just the same. This is one of those times,” said Snyder. “ ... I thank you for all of the memories. Memories that I thought were long behind me.”

Snyder’s track career began at McConnellsburg High School where he set state records in the mile and onto Penn State University under the tutelage of coach Harry Groves. In 1977, he was proclaimed Penn State University’s top runner. The following year he would be bestowed with All-American Indoor Track honors by the NCAA for his 8:40 finish time in the two-mile run. Snyder would also finish ninth out of 350 cross-country runners in the NCAA National Cross-Country meet and be the Lions’ fifth All-American.

News reports indicate Snyder qualified to participate in the Olympic trials held in Eugene, Ore., even though the United States had already banned participation in the 1980 event that was to be in Moscow, Russia. He was unable to attend the trials due to an injury. In order to be selected for the Olympic team, an athlete is required to place in the top three in their event. Snyder reported a friend of his placed third at the trials in the 10,000-meter run and secured a position on the Olympic team. President Jimmy Carter gave the man a cowboy hat and treated him to lunch at the White House.

Rosalie Hixson Wiherin

Touted a “tomboy” who loved sports, Kendall presented the Rosalie Hixson Wiherin 2014 Hall of Fame Award to Wiherin’s daughter and sister, Elisa Wiley and Marcia Stephens. Stephens said she was glad her sister’s terrible happening (paralysis stemming from an unconfirmed case of polio) turned into something great, repeated appearances and gold medals at the Paralympics. Wiherin was also able to influence the government and served as an advisor for those needing handicapped-accessible assistance and improvements, she added.

“She left a great legacy,” said Stephens, who noted many individuals benefited from the work she did.

Wiherin, a native of Crystal Spring, competed around the world for well over a decade as a member of the United States Wheelchair Team. Her resolve and determination to never give in to her disability allowed Wiherin to travel to Tokyo, Japan, in 1964, where she competed in the Summer Paralympics or International Olympic Wheelchair Games. Athletes at Paralympic events are divided into one of five categories: amputation, cerebral palsy, wheelchair athletes, visual impairment and other physical impairments.

In her first outing, the 19-yearold clinched six gold medals in the discus, javelin, club throw, shot put and the free-style and back-stroke swimming events. In addition, she was awarded silver medals in the precision javelin and breast stroke. She also closed out the competition being dubbed “Miss Paralympic 1964” and was honored for her achievements by then Pennsylvania Gov. William Scranton in a special ceremony at his Harrisburg office.

Wiherin also participated at Paralympic events in Israel, Germany and Canada and was inducted into National Wheelchair Sports Hall of Fame in 1971 as its first female member.

Return to top