LINDEN—The second class of the Linden Athletic Hall of Fame will be enshrined at an Induction Dinner at Amicis III Ristorante, 1700 West Elizabeth Avenue, Linden at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 27.
Sixteen new members will be inducted into the hall this year.
Edward Joseph Apalinski Sr. was named the Outstanding Linden High School Athlete from 1957-1960. In his senior year, Apalinski led his baseball team to Union County Championship with a 9-2 record, highlighted by a no-hitter against Clark, and was the county batting champion with a .395 batting average. Apalinski was awarded All Union County and Third Team All State. He was the captain of the Linden High School basketball team in his senior year and was named to the All Union County Team. He is a member of the Union County Baseball Hall of Fame.
A 1992 graduate of Linden High School, basketball star Waliyy Dixon left as the high school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,760 points. He earned honors as an All-Union County player, a Star Ledger All State honoree and a Street and Smith Magazine All American High School player. He played for Rutgers University and Benedict College and won the Reebok National Slam Dunk Contest. Today, he is known as “The Main Event” in the AND1 circle and is a national street ball legend.
Considered one of the four greatest bowlers of the past two decades, Carolyn Dorin – Ballard was elected to the United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame for superior performance. She will be honored at the 2008 USBC Convention in Kansas City, Mo. this May. She became one of the first women to join the PBA and became the first female member to bowl a 300 game in PBA competition.
Cathy Dorin – Lizzi was inducted into the Union County Women’s Bowling Association Hall of Fame in 1999 with her older sister Carolyn. She has received numerous awards throughout her career including being named to the NCAA All American Team four consecutive years. She has 16 300 games and two 800 series to her professional credit. You’ve seen her on ESPN as a color analyst and sideline reporter.
The current president of New Jersey USA Amateur Boxing, Don Givens, Sr. is a former Golden Gloves Featherweight Champion representing New Jersey, the former United States Air Force Featherweight Champion and the 1955 Florida AAU Featherweight Champion. Considered one of the best boxing trainers in the country, Givens is an award recipient as N.J. Coach of the Year and a member of the N.J. State Boxing Hall of Fame.
An outstanding shortstop for Linden High School and Rutgers University in the 40s, Jules Leboff was also an outstanding basketball player who went on to play minor league basketball after college. Leboff returned to Linden where he spent many years as a teacher and school principal. He is a member of the Union County Baseball Hall of Fame.
Walter Martin played varsity basketball and football for Linden High School, graduating in 1967. He Attended Ranger Junior College as a walk on where he was a two-time All American and two-time Texas State Champion as a half miler on the track team. Martin transferred to Baylor University and ran for the Baylor Bears elite track team under legendary coach Clyde Hart. He was invited to the 1972 Olympic Trials in Lake Tahoe. Martin also was a member of the World Class European relay team representing West Germany.
As an amateur fighter with a record of 28-2, Tony Orlando was the New Jersey State Champion at 132 lbs. As a referee, on the amateur level Orlando refereed over 1,000 fights. As a professional, he officiated over 50 world title bouts in New Jersey, England, Denmark, Italy and Thailand. Orlando is a member of numerous world sanctioning bodies including the IBF, IBC, IBO, NABF and WBU. He is a member of the NJ State Boxing Hall of Fame and is the current chairman of the NJ State Athletic Control Board.
An outstanding athlete for Linden High School, Ron Perry was a 1954 Newark News All State selection and All Union County selection in baseball as a catcher. He was also an All State and All County selection in football as a halfback. Perry played minor league baseball in the New York Giants farm system. He is a member of the Union County Baseball Hall of Fame.
A 1966 graduate of Linden High School, Tony Picaro was a steady player for the baseball team but proud to be an even better coach. He is the two-time Star Ledger Coach of the Year in high school baseball. He won the State Group Championships in 1979, 1981 and 1983 and his teams were #1 in New Jersey in 1979 and 1981.
Michael Pringley was an outstanding football defensive lineman and basketball forward for Linden High School. He was an All State and All County selection in 1992 for football. He attended North Carolina University where he played defensive end for three years. He sacked Syracuse QB Donavan McNabb on his first snap as a collegian. Pringley was drafted by the Detroit Lions and played in the NFL for three seasons.
John Riggi played varsity football at L HS in 1942 and 1943 as a lineman on both offense and defense. Later in life, he founded the PAL, helped construct the building and co- founded the Pop Warner Football League. He constructed the old Little League Baseball complex on Stiles Street (the current Airport Plaza). Additionally he is a charter member of the Linden Human Relations Committee and remained active throughout his adult life.
Richard “Red” Sojka was selected to the All County and All State first teams in football and baseball in his junior and senior years by the Newark News. He was voted the most outstanding All-Around Athlete by the area coaches in his senior year. Sojka received a scholarship to play football at the University of Mississippi. In 1959, he signed a baseball contract with the Pittsburg Pirates. He is a member of the Union County Baseball Hall of Fame.
An outstanding All Union County and Star Ledger All State football player for Linden High School, Troy Stradford went on to an excellent career as a running back at Boston College, where he was named to the Kodak College All-American team. He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins of the NFL and in his first year was named the AFC Rookie of the Year. He played six years in the National Football League.
Kurt M. Wolf, the longtime Linden Recreation Supervisor, was responsible for the department’s sports programming. He was known as a sports trivia expert and he was an outstanding baseball umpire. After his passing, he was honored by the Union County Baseball Association as a “friend” to the program. His portrait hangs in the vestibule of the Linden Recreation Home Office. His old #10 has been officially retired from all Linden Recreation programs.
Theodore Zawacki was Linden High School’s first 1,000 point scorer with a career mark of 1,144, a record he held for over four decades. A first team All Union County and All State selection in 1956, Zawacki went on to play ball at Wake Forest University and played in an NCAA Division Final Four game. He became the head basketball coach of Linden High School and was named the 1997 Star Ledger New Jersey Boy’s Basketball Coach of the Year and the Union County Basketball Coach of the Year.
If you are interested in attending the dinner and meeting some of Linden’s most outstanding athletes, call Santa Goleme for tickets at (908) 486-8250 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday to Friday. Tickets cost $60 per person.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!