Mlkvy inducted in Hall of Fame
ED HEDES/TIMES NEWS Bob Mlkvy, center, is surrounded by his wife, Judy, and brother Bill at the ceremony Saturday.
When you think of the history of Palmerton High School basketball, the name that quickly comes to mind is Mlkvy.
Brothers Bill and Bob played on championship teams back in the day and took their talent to the "City of Brotherly Love" to play for Temple and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively.
On Saturday night at the Woodlands it was Bob's night to shine, however, as he was one of 11 inductees into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame at its annual banquet, nominated by the Carbon County Chapter of the organization.
Bob joined brother Bill, who was an inductee in 1992.
Bill was Bob's escort during the procession of inductees Saturday. In 1992 Bob escorted Bill.
Other inductees were Debra A Black, currently head coach at Eastern Illinois University; Joe Bressi, who started his coaching career at Marian High School and went on to have successful stints at Bishop McDevitt High School, Bloomsburg University and Lycoming University; John Cartwright, who succeeded Roger Staubach as quarterback at Navy.
Also, Myron S. Cope, the late Pittsburgh Steelers announcer who was instrumental in founding what is known as "The Terrible Towel"; Bob V. Donato, NCAA basketball official who retired in 2012 after 35 years wearing the stripes; Harry Kalas, the late Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster; Gerald Karver, one of the best long-distance runners in the world in the 1940s.
Also inducted, John "Jackie" McDonald, from Pottsville and one of the greatest running backs in Muhlenberg College history; Ron Necciai, the only man in professional baseball history to strike out 27 batters in nine innings; and Lance Rautzhan, a Blue Mountain graduate who went on to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Mlkvy, who is still a member of the Blue Ridge Cable TV-13 basketball announcing team, said in his induction speech that the honor wasn't an individual one just for him, but all of the family, teammates and coaches he was fortunate to be involved with over the years.
"This is probably the greatest honor I've ever had in all of my participation in sports over the years," Mlkvy said afterward.
"Just the fact, and I accept this with a lot of humility, truthfully. Just being accepted with a group of athletes, the type of athletes and the superiority of athletes that are on the dais with you, is just a great honor and is undescribable."
Bob graduated from Palmerton High in 1957 and his 1,975 points is still tops among the male Blue Bombers today.
He captained the Blue Bombers for three years while earning four varsity letters, was All-Lehigh Valley first team three years and was First Team All-State two years.
He played on teams that won three Lehigh Valley League Championships and at one time won 44 games in a row. In 1956, one of those teams lost to Farrell in the PIAA Championship.
Mlkvy doesn't have just one moment that was a highlight that he'll never forget.
"I don't know if there was one particular highlight," he said.
"The total participation in the game, whether it be at Palmerton and the great seasons we had there and the great guys I played with, over the years playing for Penn at the Palestra and just keeping in contact with the game is what I'll reflect on the most.
"I just enjoy the game itself, but being with the kids is a great help to me, keeping me young. I just enjoy it all."
Bob talked about his family, how his parents, John and Margaret, moved to Palmerton from Slovakia in 1907.
His dad worked for New Jersey Zinc Company for 48 years.
He reflected on another brother Milt, who played for Palmerton High in the 1930s.
Milt, who many claim was probably the best basketball player in the family, entered the Merchant Marines and was reported missing in action when his ship went down during World War II.
Bob also talked about his sister Lillian, who went on to play basketball at Bloomsburg.
The name Mlkvy was put on the map when brother Bill, who was playing at Temple, was labeled as "The Owl Without A Vowel" by Associated Press writer Ralph Bernstein.
"It's fantastic," Bob said when asked about how it felt to be inducted into the Pennsylvania Hall joining brother Bill.
"We're both in The Big Five Hall of Fame together. We're the only brothers in The Big Five Hall of Fame and now this.
"My only claim to fame when I talk to my big brother is I preceded him in The Big Five Hall because he played before the Big Five was formed."
Big brother Bill, however, couldn't have been more proud of his brother's induction.
"When you think, like Bob said, we had immigrant parents who came over here and had nothing, get us some education and be good, and to see this honor it's wonderful," Bill said.
"The one thing that touched me tonight was when he said I was an influence in his life. When I played for Temple in Convention Hall, I went to my coach and asked him to let my brother sit on our bench so he could get the feel of the game of basketball.
"So he was exposed to Duke, North Carolina and as a young man he would see all of the offenses and defenses so it kind of jump-started him."
Besides his brother and sister, Mlkvy was joined at the festivities by his wife, Judy, two sons, two daughters and grandchildren.