County Hall inductees have fame come their way

July 18, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

Immortality wasn't something Mark Weber planned on.

"I just went out every day and tried to do what I could," Weber said. "I wanted to win the game ... that's all that mattered."

It was a simple philosophy of game, then fame. Success is one of those benefits which can follow you for a lifetime, if you're fortunate enough.

Weber became one of those chosen few on Saturday as one of five new members to be inducted at the 18th annual Washington County Sports Hall of Fame banquet at the Hagerstown Elks Lodge.


The honor signifies everything an athlete dreams about when he is playing as a youngster and never imagined he'd attain as an adult.

"Through the years, I was fortunate to win the awards I did," Weber said. "I guess when it was all added up, someone thought I belonged here. I never went out there to get this, but I did it."

Weber is enshrined as part of the 18th class into the county Hall for his accomplishments as a goalkeeper for the Frostburg State soccer team before turning his attention to becoming a local golf professional.

Joining Weber in the Class of 2004 were Garrett Stephenson of Boonsboro, who pitched for three major league baseball teams; Joe Howard, a record-setting semi-pro basketball player and local referee; Al Bennett, a star pitcher for Hagerstown's semi-pro teams of the 1950s; and Dick Hess, a star Hancock High football player who became a successful boxing trainer.

Stephenson was unable to attend the event while Howard, Bennett and Hess were inducted posthumously.

Like every inductee, Weber took the time to find his talents and applied them, while keeping an open mind for advice and criticism.

"The first person I want to thank is the guy who told me that I was too small to play football when I was in sixth grade," Weber said. "I don't remember his name, but I have to thank him. It didn't bother me ... Hey, I WAS small."

The new door opened in the form of Williamsport's first youth soccer team. Weber joined and became a natural, with help.

"That first youth team was awful," Weber said. "Coach (Rich) Doub got me in soccer. And thanks to the work of Coach Doub, Mike Tesla and Stan Stouffer, that same bunch of players were state champions by the time I was a senior."

Weber moved on to Frostburg State, where he turned in 37 shutouts in goal from 1980-83 and was a three-time All-American who was drafted by the Fort Wayne Cannons of the Professional American Indoor Soccer League. But Weber then turned to golf and became a pro at three local courses over the years.

Stephenson spent just his senior year at Boonsboro, but made a mark in both basketball and baseball in 1988-89. The former Herald-Mail Player of the Year was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles and made his major league debut in 1996. He also pitched for Philadelphia and St. Louis until last season.

Howard, a Chambersburg High graduate, made an immediate impact in semi-pro basketball, playing and coaching Uncle John's Cabineers, Fairchild Packets and Greencastle Packets. He owned several Hagerstown Armory scoring records and also was a member of the 1948 Packets team which played at Madison Square Garden.

Bennett began pitching for Hagerstown in 1950 for the Braves and later in 1954 for the Packets in the Class B Piedmont League. He was considered the best pitcher in the area. After retiring, Bennett helped found the Senior Division for Hagerstown Little League.

Hess starred in football under Hancock coach Paul Imphong, who considered Hess the best player he ever coached. After playing semi-pro football, Hess turned to boxing, training fighters in his basement while preparing himself to win the heavyweight title in the Silver Gloves Tournament. He returned to Hagerstown in 1974 to start his own boxing club at the Boys' and Girls' Club.

The Hall of Fame also awarded a number of other annual honors.

  • Don Stoner Coach of the Year - North Hagerstown football coach Dan Cunningham.

  • Sarah Ward Female Athlete of the Year - Tara Knable of Smithsburg.

  • Harry Cunningham Male Athlete of the Year - Jordan Sterner of Hancock.

  • John Lightner Official Award - Jack Hockensmith.

  • Policeman of the Year - Cpl. Roy Harsh

  • Fire Person of the Year - John Latimer

  • Educator of the Year - Jim Martin of St. Maria Goretti.

  • Aaron Steiner Scholarships - Knable and Chris Brunner of Grace Academy.

  • Franklin Hamburg Scholarships - Brittany Strite of Boonsboro, Michelle Mummert of Williamsport, Tim Evans of North Hagerstown and T.J. Bowser of Smithsburg.

  • Robert Smith Baseball Scholarship - Bryan 'Zeb' Jacobs of Clear Spring.
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