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Lansford to induct Karnish, Sniscak, Zuzu

Published May 14. 2011 09:01AM

The Carbon County Area Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame will induct its 2011 class at a banquet on Sunday, May 29 at Memorial Hall in Jim Thorpe.

This will be the 18th class to be inducted by the Carbob County Chapter.

Doors open at 1 p.m.. Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for children between the ages of 6-12.

Tickets can be purchased from any of the following people: Art George 610-826-2830; Jake Boyer 610-751-6634; Danny McGinley 570-325-3550; Tom Wehr 570-366-2694; Trevor Lawrence 570-645-4722; Ted Bortnick 570-645-9575; Emmett McCall 570-645-2093; Bob Gelatko 570-645-8652; John Harkins 570-645-2627; Tom McGrath 570-668-2237; Gary Clemson 570-668-1066; Tom Pilla 570-669-6666; Bill Gardiner 570-669-6564.

The TIMES NEWS will run brief biographies of all the inductees during the next several Saturdays. Today's featured class is from Lansford.


Karnish attended Lansford High School from 1958-1962. He excelled in the classroom and was a multi-talented three-sport athlete lettering in football, basketball and baseball for the four years of his high school career.

Karnish's first venture into organized sports was playing basketball for St. Peter's & Paul's in the Panther Valley CYO League where he was among the league's highest scorers in seventh and eighth grade. He took his talents to Lansford High School where he was a three-year starter in basketball. During his sophomore year, he was a member of the team that won the Black Diamond League Championship by defeating Coaldale. Karnish was recognized on several All-Star teams and was selected in his senior year to play in the Irv Kendel Basketball Classic and played against opponents from major cities on the East Coast.

Karnish was a three-year starter on the baseball team where he pitched and played shortstop and centerfield.

On the gridiron, Karnish was a three-year varsity starter playing offensive and defensive end. He was consistently rated as one of the top receivers in the Panther Valley area.

After graduating from Lansford, Karnish went on to play at the University of Pittsburgh.

Karnish played his last two years at East Stroudsburg State College under coach Jack Gregory, who also coached at the U.S. Naval Academy and Rhode Island, and then Charlie Reese. While awaiting NCAA eligibility, he assisted Red "Clyde" Whitman in coaching the freshmen team. In his first year of eligibility, Karnish started at linebacker on a team that won the Pennsylvania State College Championship by defeating Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Karnish received his Bachelor of Science in Earth Science and played semi-pro football for the Plainfield Red Oaks in New Jersey. The team won championships in the NY-NJ Metropolitan area. While playing for the Red Oaks, he was reunited with teammate Al Leonzi from Summit Hill.

Karnish went on to teach and coach at Westfield, New Jersey under the program headed by legendary coach Gary Kehler.

Karnish is married to Clara Gargula, of Lansford, and have a son, Adam, who works for the USGA in Far Hills, New Jersey, where he coordinates course ratings and handicaps.

Mike retired three years ago and enjoys playing golf with his son and supporting his wife in her tennis tournaments.


George "Mongie" Sniscak earned a total of nine varsity letters from 1943 to 1947; four in football, three in basketball and two in track before graduating from Lansford High School.

In basketball, Sniscak lettered in his sophomore, junior and seniors years where he was an excellent rebounder and defensive player. He played on teams in his sophomore year (14-5) and his junior year (12-3) that had very successful seasons.

In track, Sniscak lettered as a junior and was named captain of the track team as a senior. In 1946, as a junior, he broke a seven-year old District 11 shot put record in Pottsville and was only one of three athletes from the area to qualify for the State Championships. He set the record with a toss of 49-8 and it wasn't until years later that it was broken.

In football, Sniscak was a member of the 1943 undefeated (12-0) team and played as a freshman. That team won the Eastern Conference Championship giving up only three touchdowns during the entire 12-game season.

As a sophomore, Sniscak broke into the starting lineup and was there for the rest of his high school career. He started at guard on offense and tackle on defense for the undefeated Southern Division Champions, who lost to Hanover in the Eastern Conference Championship game.

In his junior year, Sniscak played guard on offense and tackle on defense, but was also used as a linebacker in goal-line situations, a fullback on short yardage plays and was also asked to kick extra points. He was the only player from Lansford named to the All-Valley Team by Tony Kinn. His offensive and defensive line play made him a candidate for All-State honors.

In 1946, Sniscak was elected captain of the football team by the seniors and lettermen and they compiled a 8-2-1 record. He was selected to the All-State team.

In his four years playing football at Lansford, the Panthers had a record of 36-6-3. They were so dominant that they gave up a total of only 122 points over that four-year span, which was an average of less than three points a game. It was a dominant era for Lansford High School football.

After graduation, Sniscak received scholarship offers for football from Pitt, Syracuse and Villanova and UCLA in track, to name a few.

Legendary head coach Douglas "Peahead" Walker of Wake Forest, however, personally traveled to Lansford to visit Sniscak and he convinced him to join the Demon Deacons for the 1948 football season. Sniscak was a member of the team for three seasons and played in the 1949 Dixie Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama.

In 1950, Sniscak left Wake Forest and played professional football in the Canadian Football League for one year with the Montreal Alouettes Grey Cup Championship team.

Sniscak joined the Air Force after that season in 1950 and fought in the Korean Conflict from 1950 to 1954. After leaving the Air Force, he was employed by Leeds and Northrup in North Wales, Pennsylvania, as an electrical technician until his retirement in 1988.

Sniscak passed away in June 2005 and left behind his wife, the former Marlene Rudolph of Nesquehoning, four sons, one daughter and three grandchildren.


John P. Zuzu was a two-sport athlete for Lansford High School from 1949 through 1953.

Zuzu played basketball for St. Michael's CYO before going on to play for the Panthers (two years of JV, one year of varsity).

He also went on to play football for the Panthers, where he excelled as an offensive guard and defensive end. He was picked to play in the All-Star game, but had a dislocated shoulder.

His baseball career flourished for 10 straight years as he played for the Lansford AmVets or any other team that needed a player in a Recreational League. Zuzu played outfield for St. Michael's in the local church league, catcher for the Lansford American Legion in the Tri-County Legion League and the lansford All-Stars from 1954-57 in the local adult league.

Zuzu played softball for the Lansford AmVets and from 1966 through 1968 was a catcher for the South End of Lancaster in the Fast Pitch Seaboard League. From 2003 through the present, he pitches for the Willow Street Blue Ole Stars in a Over-60 modified league.

His coaching career included the Lansford Little League Cubs from 1958-64 to one championship; The Manor Ridge Giants and the Lancaster County Midget-Midget (10-12) League to four Lancaster New Era championships and an undefeated season (36-0) in 1977.

Zuzu was the defensive back coach for the Stevens Trade football team from 1967 through 1975 and the Manor Ridge Coments from 1975-79 winning one championships.

He also coached the Lancaster Catholic JV baseball team for two years, was assistant and JV coach at Penn Manor High School ov er three years. the Penn Manor Legion baseball team for four years, the Hellam of York Adult baseball team for four years and the Willow Street Blue Ole Stars softball team for two years.

Zuzu also srved as President of the Lansford Booster Club and the Manor Ridge Athletic Association. He was awarded the "Man of the Year Award" by the Manor Ridge Lions Club in 1973 and was also a PIAA football and basketball official from 1960 through 1972.

John is divorced and the father of six children, Judy, John Jr., Michael, Linda, Brian and Roberta and has 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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