The A-K Valley Sports Hall of Fame was born in 1970 through the efforts of Bob Tatrn, then Sports Director of WKPA Radio, New Kensington, and Bob Schank, then Sports Editor of the Valley News Dispatch, Tarentum.
A richness of athletic talent in the area through the years made the idea of a sports hall of fame a natural. It was felt that stories about legendary sports heroes of the past would eventually fade away if they were not chronicled in some form and displayed for future generations to see. With that in mind, the two organizers set out to assemble a committee of well-known sports personalities dedicated to that philosophy.
Selected were Al Dunn, longtime New Kensington High School coach and athletic director; Floyd "Fritz" Klingensmith, Natrona Heights sports booster; and Ernie DeFilippi, Vandergrift sports writer. Dunn was chosen to head the commitee and did so until his untimely death following the induction ceremonies of 1972.
The original intention of the committee was to honor outstanding sports personalities who had some connection with the area. Candidates would be considered eligible if they were born in the area, resided in the area at any time, or performed in the area on a regular basis. The circulation of the Valley News Dispatch (1970) was used in defining eligibility boundaries.
A list of hundreds of candidates was compiled before the first selections were made. The committee felt that everyone on the list was worthy of instant induction, but decided to select only a few each year.
The first two induction ceremonies (1970 & 1971) were held in conjunction with the annual WKPA Radio sports dinner that honored top high school athletes. In 1972, the committee set its own course and has run its own honorary, dinner inductions ever since.
Pirate sportscaster Bob Prince served as master of ceremonies the first year and as principal speaker in two subsequent years. Other known sports celebrities who made guest-speaker appearances included Terry Bradshaw; Terry hanratty; Andy Russell; Red Manning; Mike Webster; Jim Crowley; Pete Dimperio; Tom Young; Carmen Basilio; Myron Cope; Bill Hillgrove; Steve Furness; Foge Fazio; Frank Cignetti; Bob Long; Beano Cook; Red Mihalik; Alex Kroll.
Tatrn is the only member of the original committee still serving. Other current members include Chairman Al Uskuraitis; Nick Staresinic; Rick Starr; Ben Beale.
Non-current living members include Dom Corso; Dr. Sam Ceraso; Tom Kernan; Dick Romito.
Chairmen who have served: Al Dunn (1970-1972); Fritz Klingensmith (1973-1977); Elmer Gross (1978-1998); Al Uskuraitis (1999-to present).
In the early years, an annual "booster" subscription of $2 from hundreds of patrons helped finance Hall functions. It was later replaced by the current Lifetime Patrons list ($20 one-time donation) which is open to anyone wishing to help support the Hall. Input of the public in general and lifetime patrons in particular is considered in making annual selections, but the committee assumes responsibility for the final choices, which are made with an eye toward geography, variety and availability of the condidates to attend the dinner.