Frazier's 1969 basketball team to join Fayette County Hall
In January, members of the 1969 Frazier boys' basketball team came together to witness the raising of the team's new WPIAL championship banner at Frazier High School. The new banner was raised after the team's original banner had been lost.
On June 21, some of those players will gather for another celebration of the team's success as the 1969 Commodores will officially be inducted into the Fayette County Sports Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony and banquet will take place at 5:30 p.m. at Penn State Fayette.
“I think the ultimate thing for any athlete is to be inducted into a hall of fame, and we are very proud of this honor,” said Charles Ramsey, an all-state player and senior on the 1969 Frazier team.
The Commodores were coached by the late Henry DiVirgilio, assisted by coaches Joe Lafko and Chuck Kelley.
Ramsey said there were several things that made the 1969 team special. However, chief among the reasons for the team's success was a willingness to work hard when it didn't have the ball. That hard work stemmed from DiVirgilio.
“Defense and conditioning is why we won,” Ramsey said. “We just swarmed teams, and by the fourth quarter, other teams were tired. Coach DiVirgilio had us train all the way up until the last game. That team was made of defense.”
The 1969 Commodores won four games in the WPIAL Class B (now known as double-A) playoffs, including a 69-56 championship win over Center High School at Pitt Fieldhouse. The Commodores also made a strong run in the state tournament that year. Frazier defeated a pair of previously unbeaten teams in the state playoffs before losing to Mansfield in the PIAA Class AA title game, 65-43.
For all the success the team enjoyed on the court, Ramsey, who was a co-captain with the late Jerry Boyle, remembers the team for its outstanding group of individuals.
“This team was special,” Ramsey said. “It was a great group of guys on and off the court. Guys didn't get into trouble and they kept their grades up. Even today, these guys are great fathers and grandfathers. They are great men.”
Ramsey reported that some team members will not be able to attend, but anticipates a big contingent of players to be on hand at the banquet and induction ceremony.
“We're very excited about it,” Ramsey said. “We've got a lot of guys going. To be there with these guys will be unbelievable.”
The 1969 Frazier boys' basketball team is one of two teams that will be added to the Fayette County Sports Hall of Fame. The 1962 WPIAL champion Uniontown football team will also be a part of the sixth class of inductees.
Seven individuals will be inducted, including former Geibel boys' basketball coach Ken Misiak and former Penn State football player and Connellsville native Henry Oppermann Jr.
Former Laurel Highlands High School and University of Richmond basketball player Greg Beckwith, former Albert Gallatin High School and West Virginia University basketball player Buddy Quertinmont and former German Township High School and University of Pittsburgh football player Ralph Still will be inducted.
Former Uniontown High School, University of Nebraska and Buffalo Bills running back Bennett “Pope” Gregory and former Point Marion and Uniontown High School football coach Bill Power will be posthumously inducted.
According to Fayette County Sports Hall of Fame co-founder George Von Benko, the 1969 Frazier squad is certainly worthy of this recognition.
“We are pleased to induct the 1969 Frazier basketball team,” Von Benko said. “It is a very deserving honor. We also hope that their induction will spark more interest in the Perryopolis area.”
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.