What makes an $80-per-ticket, sports-themed show a worthy investment?
The presence of two Penn State football greats who went on to have Hall-of-Fame NFL careers, paired with the highest-kicking Hall-of-Fame major league pitcher in history and another baseball legend who mowed down batters across American ballparks for most of the 1970s.
Lenny Moore, Dave Robinson, Luis Tiant and Juan Marichal joined York Revolution manager Mark Mason to draw fans from the York area to Heritage Hills Golf Resort and Conference Center for the 54th annual York Area Sports Night program on Thursday.
The five, along with Mason’s hitting coach, Enohel Polanco, signed autographs while reminiscing about years gone by.
Lenny Moore: Moore has probably the strongest ties to the York area of the four legends present — a relationship, he called it.
“I have relatives here,” Moore said. “My mother and father are buried here, and my grandparents are buried here. I was born out in Reading — my parents lived out here in York and eventually went to Reading.”
Moore came out of Penn State as a two-time All American and won Rookie of the Year with the Baltimore Colts.
He was just getting started.
Moore went on to compile 12,451 net yards, scoring 113 touchdowns and was voted to the Pro Bowl seven times.
Dave Robinson: Robinson was a Green Bay Packer who starred at linebacker for a decade for one of the most dominant dynasties in NFL history, winning two Super Bowls.
Robinson, a first-round pick out of Penn State, still follows his college team closely, and had plenty to say about a tough two-game stretch this past season during which the Nittany Lions dropped their only two games.
“I think what started it (with) the Michigan State game, (was) the 2 1/2-hour thunder delay, I think when we came back out we were cold and they were hot. When we lost that game it kind of put an end to the season. We lost to Ohio 39-38, and that’s what knocked us out of the championship.
"They honored Orlando Pace (at the Ohio State game) — a good friend of mine. That was some game. I thought we had them. In my experience with football, the home team never folds. If that game would’ve been at Penn State it would’ve been different.
"The one thing about college football and pro football — you lose three games in the pros and you can sneak into the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. You lose one game in college and you’re out.”
Luis Tiant: Tiant — the pride of Cuba — starred for the Boston Red Sox and five other teams over a 19-year span. He broke the 20-win plateau four different times, pitching dominant stretches that included four straight shutouts, 41 and 40 consecutive shutout innings during 1966 and 1968, and posting a 1.62 ERA in 1968 and a 1.91 ERA in 1972.
Tiant spent the most time with the Red Sox organization and seemed intrigued by the competition in the American League East heading into the season.
“It’s a strong division. It’s going to be tough," he said. "Baseball you never know — anything can happen.
"(The Red Sox) have a good, young team. If they can play to their ability, they can be good. They could beat Houston, you never know.”
Tiant spent three months playing for the same team as the final Hall of Famer, Marichal, who joined him at Fenway in 1974 before the latter was traded to the Dodgers.
Tiant had only this to say about the high-kicking legend: “He was bad, man. He was a bad boy — he could pitch.”
Indeed Marichal was.
Juan Marichal: Famous for his above-the-head leg kick in his windup, Marichal compiled a 2.89 career ERA, pitching 52 shutouts and 243 wins.
“This is my first time being here in 59 years,” he said of his visit to York. “I played here in York in 1959, so that’s 59 years ago. I played for Springfield — the league was Class A, and I had to play against York, Reading, Williamsport, Lancaster, Binghamton. That was a good league.”
Mark Mason: Mason, meanwhile, heads a Revolution team that is coming off of a Atlantic League title. He’s been attending the banquet for nine years and appreciates the event for what it brings to the community.
“It’s a great event. For the fans, for the kids," he said. "A lot of big-time celebrities come out for it, and it really touches all of the sports — golf, women’s sports and more.”
Reach David Barth at firstname.lastname@example.org.