The American Heart Association and the Philadelphia Phillies will hold the 17th annual Home Runs For Heart two-day derby contest on May 7 and 8 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Citizens Bank Park. The event is held in honor of Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn, who died suddenly of a heart attack in 1997.
In addition, the event will honor the memory of Harry Kalas, the late long time Phillies announcer who passed away of heart disease in 2009. Individual participation — $400, teams of four — $1,500. You can meet the Phanatic, take a tour of the ballpark, participate in a slient auction and meet the Phillies ball girls. AHA wants your help in fighting heart disease and strokes. For more information, contact Sarah Smart at (215) 575-5218, email@example.com or visit heart.org/phillywalk.
Phillies to salute Jackie Robinson on April 15
The Phillies along with Major League Baseball will pay tribute to Jackie Robinson, who broke the color line on April 15, 1947. They will celebrate the 67th anniversary of this occasion with a “Jackie Robinson Salute” at Citizens Bank Park on April 15 before and during the 7:05 p.m. game agaist the Atlanta Braves.
—A special on field tribute will take place at 6:40 p.m. The entire Phillies team will be wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. In addition, the game will feature Jackie Robinson Day jeweled bases and lineup cards.
—A lifesize, hand-carved and painted wooden statue of Jackie Robinson will be on display in Left Field Plaza of Ashburn Alley for fans to take photos. The statue, which weighs more than 250 pounds and stands more than 6-feet-tall, was created by sculptor Brian Birrer and took over 900 hours to transform from over 50 pieces of Walnut, Pine and Basswood. Birrer, form Northern, N.J., will be also in attendance.
—Second baseman Mahlon Duckett, the only surviving player from the Negro league team Philadelphia Stars, will be honored on the field. The Philadelphia Stars was in existence from 1934 to 1952 and won the 1934 Negro National League pennant. The Phillies players will also participate in the tribute.
—Members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, who made history at the same time Jackie Robinson broke the “color line” in Major League Baseball, will be the honor guard for the game.
—The national anthem will be sung by Chrystal E. Williams, mezzo-soprano & Academy of Vocal Arts resident artist. Also, fans are invited to watch the Phillies’ “I am 42” video tribute to Jackie Robinson, which will be played on PhanaVision.
—A Phillies Jackie Robinson Scholarship presentation will be made to Gwen Franklin, a senior at Central High School and a Phillies RBI All-Star softball player.
—A Jackie Robinson Foundation Recognition of Whitney Muse and Dantawn Nicholson.
—Paintings of Jackie Robinson and General Benjamin Davis, Jr. of the Tuskegee Airmen by local artist Sylvia Castellanos will be on the Hall of Fame Club level.
Halil Kanacevic signs pro contract in Italy
Saint Joseph’s forward Halil Kanacevic has signed a professional contract with Virtus Roma of Italy. The team is in the Basketball League Series A, which is the National Professional First Division and the highest level of club competition in that country.
Kanacevic had a standout season for the Atlantic 10 champion Hawks, averaging 10.9 points and a team-best 8.7 rebounds a game. He also topped the Hawks in assists (4.4) and blocks (1.5), while earning Atlantic 10 Conference second team honors and Philadelphia All-Big 5 first team recognition.
Kanacevic was the Most Valuable Player of the A-10 championship as he averaged 15.3 points and 14.3 rebounds in Saint Joseph’s three tournament wins.
A senior who played at Hofstra University as a freshman, Kanacevic collected more than 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 400 assists and 200 blocks during his collegiate career.
Philadelphia Big 5 names Steve Bilsky as executive director
The Philadelphia Big 5 has announced that Steve Bilsky will become its executive director. Bilsky, who will retire as Director of Athletics at the University of Pennsylvania in June, will assume his new role in July. Bilsky’s role will be to consult with the schools and facilitate related activity, including Big 5 competition, community partnerships, corporate sponsorships and special events. Bilsky will also chair the recently formed Big 5 Advisory Board made up of distinguished alumni from all five schools.
Bilsky will retire from Penn after 20 years as its director of athletics. Prior to that role, he was the assistant vice president and director of athletics at The George Washington University. He was a star guard of the Quakers’ basketball teams of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s considered amongst the best teams in Big 5 history. He is a member of the Big 5 Hall of Fame.
Black Women in Sport Foundation to host forum
Black Women in Sports Foundation (BWSF) will host the Next Step Women of Color Mini-forumn on Wednesday, April 16 from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Temple University’s Ritter Hall, 211, 1301 Cecil B. Moore Avenue. The forum is a professional development and preparation program designed to help increase the participation and percentage of women of color as collegiate head coaches and athletic administrators at four-year NCAA institutions. Next Step offers interactive workshops and networking opportunities for current and aspiring sports administrators and coaches who are interested in taking the next step in their careers. At its core, the program helps women become empowered, enlightened and educated about the world of sport. For more information, visit blackwomeninsport.org.