2019 Inductee Bios
(Click on a name below to view bio)
The Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame inducted 6 members to its Class of 2019.
They were elected by the 60 current active members of the Hall of Fame and the 14-member Board of Trustees in process that covered the summer months.
The Trustees also selected the late Dave Power to receive the Hall of Fame’s Brian Mullen Ambassador of Baseball award, which recognizes their Meritorious Service as an Ambassador of Amateur Baseball.
The 6 honorees bring membership in the Hall of Fame to 75, all of whom are pictured on the Hall of Fame wall in Roy Hobbs Player Development Complex office reception area. To learn more about each inductee, click on the name below to view their bio.
Bill Coburn – Toledo, OH
He’s all about team and players
Bill Coburn’s baseball statistics are astounding. Oh, we don’t mean home runs or ERA or putouts or even new-fangled statistics such as WAR.
His statistics are more about team and others. The Waterville, Ohio, resident has been coming to the Roy Hobbs World Series since 1993. In all that time in various roles playing, managing, serving as a coach or bench coach Coburn has helped make a week in the baseball sunshine possible for countless players in different age divisions and playing levels.
He’s a leader who makes things happen without bringing attention to himself.
“Bill is the most calm and cool-headed person I think I know,” long-time teammate Larry Oehlers said in the Hall of Fame vetting report. “Never gets bent out of shape and is always rational. Perfect guy to play for and that’s a much-needed trait for managing a team of old-timers who don’t lack for ideas and opinions.
“Whenever there is a close call that guys don’t think the umps called correctly, he will tell everybody to calm down.”
Coburn will do that by rationally telling players, as Oehlers pointed out, “I’m managing this team and I’ll settle the situation.”
Baseball has been a huge part of Coburn’s situation since his boyhood days. He was a standout schoolboy athlete at Maumee (Ohio) High in the 1960s, playing basketball and football as well as baseball. He was a quarterback on the football team and set a school scoring record in basketball.
Coburn, 73, graduated from Maumee in 1964 and was inducted into its sports hall of fame in the 1999-2000 school year.
But baseball was and is his favorite sport.
Several years ago, though, Coburn nearly lost the ability to play baseball or do much of anything when a large tree limb fell on him while he and his son, Matthew, were clearing property.
“He dropped a tree on me by accident,” Coburn said.
Coburn thinks it happened in 2010. But he is not sure of the year but is sure of what happened. He suffered a broken left arm and suffered a concussion and spent 10 days in a hospital.
The accident occurred in the summer and one of the first things that Coburn thought about was wondering if he would make it to the Roy Hobbs World Series that fall.
“The odds were overwhelmingly against Bill Coburn returning to baseball as he recovered from several surgeries and skin grafts,” teammate Pat Venditte said, “He did not play that year, but he brought several teams to Roy Hobbs competition. It seems like Devine intervention and the spirit of Roy Hobbs inspired Billy to desire to put baseball spikes on again.”
Coburn is back again this year. Traveling to Fort Myers every fall is a trip he savors, a chance to do more than play and manage. The World Series is about camaraderie and friendship.
“You get to see everybody you haven’t seen in a while,” Coburn said.
One friend he won’t see is fellow inductee Dave Power, who is a posthumous 2019 inductee.
“I’ll miss seeing him,” Coburn said, “Great guy. Talked baseball all the time.”
Coburn loved telling the story about the time a player stole a new uniform and took it home to Naples with him. Power lived in Port Charlotte, which is north of Fort Myers.
“Dave went and got the uniform back,” Coburn said.
Coburn, who worked 42 years in the railroad industry, he knows how special the World Series is because he’s witnessed how countless players have responded to its magic.
“They always want to come back,” Coburn said.
Bill Coburn keeps coming back as well, even after that broken arm and concussion.
– Glenn Miller
And he said…
How did you get hooked on baseball? “Remembering the times with my dad in our backyard throwing the baseball for hours. He played and I would go to the games with him and watch him. I was hooked on baseball. I started playing when I was about 7, and it’s been my love ever since.”
What keeps you going? “The camaraderie with teammates and all those ballplayers who have become my friends over the years. Rehashing the game with a cold beer.”
What do you say to people who think you play softball? “Not softball. Regular baseball. Hardball. And they go, ‘Oh!’ How old are you? That’s amazing!’”
What’s your favorite Roy Hobbs memory? “John Oehlers pitching 10 innings and getting a win for Harry Young Builders over Knoxville in the semis at City of Palms Stadium. Then driving over to the Twins’ stadium for the finals with Tidewater. John did it again, pitching 9 innings for a 3-2 victory. That’s 19 innings pitched. Quite a Roy Hobbs memory.”
What does it mean being elected to the Hall of Fame? “It’s a tremendous honor to be included with this group of Roy Hobbs Hall of Famers with whom I have played with and against for 25 years.”
Bob Dearth – Chicago, IL
Service, sacrifice & baseball
Bob Dearth’s enduring love of baseball is no doubt common in the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame and beyond, deep into the ranks of every roster. His wife, Kim, certainly knows her husband loves the game.
“My wife says, ‘You love the game more than me,’” Dearth said. “Which is not true.”
For the record, Bob Dearth loves Kim more than baseball. But make no mistake, Bob Dearth has a long and abiding love of this great game, one going back to his late father, Ray, hooking him on the game when he was a boy.
It was from his father and extended family that Dearth became hooked on something more important than baseball – service and sacrifice. Dearth has been a Chicago police officer for 25 years.
He comes from a family of first responders. Dearth has 11 first cousins who are or have been Chicago police officers and he estimates the number of firefighters in his family at 13. He had uncles who were police officers and had a great-great uncle shot and killed in the line of duty in Chicago before he was born.
For the past 26 years he has balanced Roy Hobbs Baseball and his career, carving out time every fall to make the trip to Fort Myers. He played for the Chicago Phillies and more recently playing for and managing the Chicago Knights.
Dearth turns 54 on Nov. 16 but won’t be able to play this fall because of a shoulder injury. That won’t keep Dearth away from Fort Myers. He will manage teams in the 35s, 45s and 53s.
It’s that sort of dedication to his teams and love of the game that rings through the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame vetting process.
“Bob is a kind, hard-working man with great standards in life,” Hall of Famer J. D. Hinson said in the vetting report.
As one would expect of a career police officer from a line of career cops, Bob Dearth is one tough cookie.
Teammate Sean Hoye said he is an “iron horse behind the plate.”
Hoye said not even warm Florida fall weather can stop this iron horse.
“I don’t know how many years he’s caught every inning of every game in that Florida heat,” Hoye said.
Dearth earned his Hall of Fame election by being more than tough and having a strong throwing arm. Hoye said he is an ambassador for Roy Hobbs Baseball and is responsible for hundreds of players coming to Florida. That includes Hoye.
“I can’t thank him enough for giving me his couch to get me here the first year when I couldn’t afford it,” Hoye said.
Teammate Doug Boettcher also attested to Dearth’s tireless promotion of the game.
“He is the biggest promoter of Roy Hobbs in the state of Illinois, if not the nation,” Boettcher said.
Like Hoye, Boettcher knows how Dearth made it possible for players of modest financial means to make the World Series trip.
“There have been many times when he dug into his own pocket,” Boettcher said.
The Dearth Hall of Fame file of glowing vetting comments runs into many hundreds of words, far too many to share here.
But this is a man bred to not only serve his city as a police officer for a quarter of a century but to love this great game.
“My dad got me into baseball,” said Dearth, now a father of three. “My dad was always there, standing at the fence.”
Now, Bob Dearth is standing tall as a member of the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame.
– Glenn Miller
And he said…
How did you get hooked on baseball? “My dad hooked me on baseball when I was a kid, He loved the White Sox, so we watched baseball every chance we got. Then he signed me up for Little League and I never looked back. Even though my father passed away over 25 years ago, I still see him standing by the fence cheering me on.”
What keeps you playing? “There is more than one reason, but I love competition at many levels. But I think the friendships and playing with guys that love the game like I do, will always keep me coming back.”
What do you say to people who think you play softball? “I laugh and say softball is for guys who can’t play the real game. Anyone can hit a 16-inch ball that’s lobbed over the plate.”
What’s your favorite Roy Hobbs memory? “When my team won Hobbs in 1997 as the Rangers. It was a special year. The Rangers were a new team.”
What does it mean to elected to the Hall of Fame? “A very special and fulfilling accomplishment. No one starts to play this game thinking or desiring that they enter a Hall of Fame. You play this game for the love of the game and not to be elected to anything.”
Steve LaRussa – Cocoa Beach, FL
Character ability & respect
The Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame is about more than games won, home runs bashed or bases swiped. It takes more than gaudy statistics to earn selection here.
That theme resonated through the vetting process when Hall of Fame trustees considered the candidacy of Floridian Steve LaRussa. That’s not to shortchange LaRussa’s considerable on-field talent.
“Steve is an under-rated talent only to himself,” said Troy Cox, his manager on the Space Coast Yankees and Americans for many years.
But his gifts as an outfielder and talent as a hitter are out-paced by other qualities, ones not easily quantified by statistics.
“There are only a few players that I have managed that I called worthy of being Hall of Famers under the special requirements of character, ability and respect for the game,” Cox said. “Steve LaRussa is at the top, no question. He has it all and plenty of it.”
LaRussa was born in Tampa and his family moved to the central Florida community of Zephryhills when he was 3 and now resides in Cocoa Beach on Florida’s east coast. There is another Florida baseball man of note named LaRussa who was born in Tampa. That is Tony LaRussa, who is enshrined in the Cooperstown version of a baseball Hall of Fame. Any relation?
Steve LaRussa said Tony LaRussa is his grandfather’s cousin’s son. So, whatever the familial relationship is it is very distant.
But both LaRussa’s share a passion for the game. Steve LaRussa drives from Cocoa to Orlando to play in a league. The drive takes somewhere between an hour to 90 minutes depending on where the field is located in the Orlando area that is the site of that day’s game.
As with countless Roy Hobbs players, LaRussa treasures the camaraderie that comes with playing this magical sport. He and his teammates have often stayed in a Fort Myers Beach campground but plan on renting a house this year.
They’re more than teammates.
“Now it’s like a big family over there,” LaRussa said.
LaRussa has been with the Space Coast baseball team since 1990. To put that in perspective that is longer than many current MLB players have been alive. He’s played on 8 World Series championship teams but what sets him apart are his intangibles, something commented upon by those who vetted his Hall of Fame candidacy.
Bob Misko of the Orlando Baseball Association who has played with and against LaRussa, can attest to the intangibles.
“The one thing I notice every time is that excitement in his facial expressions, especially in his eyes,” Misko said in the Hall of Fame vetting report. “It’s like the kid that can’t get enough of something he loves.”
Longtime teammate Rob Harrington has known the 58-year-old LaRussa since they were in their early 20s. Harrington recalls how LaRussa would drive to Tampa to pick up his father, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s at the time, and drive him to World Series games.
“This awesome gesture has always stuck with me,” Harrington said in the vetting report. “Steve is a good man.”
– Glenn Miller
And he said…
How did you get hooked on baseball? “Probably our first 8-year-old Little league team that didn’t lose a game got me hooked. I wonder if had it been the other way around. Would I have been discouraged from baseball? Doubtful!”
What keeps you playing? “The love of the game and still being competitive at something at my age keeps me going. The Roy Hobbs World Series have been my vacation since 1990 and what I dream about all year! And now as I have gotten older and begun to play multiple weeks, I appreciate the game even more! I realize soon I won’t have the bat speed to compete in the younger divisions and that motivates me to start working out like I never did in my younger years. There is no feeling in the world better than squaring up on a baseball!”
What do you say to people who think you play softball? “That’s a girls game! We play hardball!”
What is your favorite Roy Hobbs memory? “That is easy. Our 1998 Americans AAAA 30’s champions… We had literally the worst talent we have ever brought to the series, even to this day; everything jelled and the ball bounced our way. We ended up playing our great friends and rivals the Jacksonville Vikings in the finals and beat them! The feeling of that group of guys coming together against all odds was unbelievable!”
What does it mean to be elected to the Hall of Fame? “It means the world to me to be first full-time Americans player elected! I am way down on the talent level from some of the ex-pro and college players that have played for us, but right even with them for my love of the game.”
Tim McCoy – Fort Myers, FL
Crazy about baseball & people
Tim McCoy is more than a new Roy Hobbs Hall of Famer. He is also a husband who has been married to his wife Monica for 42 years, is the father of six and grandfather of six.
His children are now all grown, ranging in age from 28 to 40. What do they think about their 65-year-old father still playing baseball?
“They think I’m crazy most of the time,” McCoy said.
Well, he is crazy about baseball and has been since he was growing up in Dixon, Ill. McCoy said that his hometown is about 100 miles west of Chicago. He recalls boyhood trips to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs play In Sunday doubleheaders from the time he was 5 or 6.
McCoy has lived in Fort Myers for 30 years and his home is so close to CenturyLink Sports Complex that during the spring and summer when the Class A Fort Myers Miracle has fireworks nights he can hear the rumble and crackle of the explosions.
He’s close to the game in every way – from geography to his heart.
Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame trustee Warren Clark knows about McCoy’s passion for the game and his dedication.
“We are only placeholders in this great game,” Clark said in a review of McCoy’s Hall of Fame candidacy. Clark knows McCoy shares that view of being a placeholder in the great American institution that is baseball.
“Tim’s players always want to come back and play for him and with him,” Clark said. “That speaks volumes. … He has done great service passing on his love of the game to many others in his generation and the next generation.”
Teammate Randy Kelly, who has played with McCoy for 5 years, told the Hall of Fame vetting committee about McCoy’s dedication and how he is respected by both opponents and teammates. McCoy is a focused player, Kelly said, who arrives an hour before game time to warm up and be “ready to contribute in any way he can.”
Roy Hobbs World Series fixture Dave McLaughlin, who is widely known for his glove-repair acumen, has played in Southwest Florida since 2002. He noticed something about McCoy that is even more important than his all-around skills as a player.
“Many people want to play for Tim,” McLaughlin said,
McLaughlin has also attended a Mariners’ fantasy camp with McCoy and from his glove repair kiosk at the PDC he has witnessed how professional this new Hall of Famer is with everybody.
“He is always available with kinds words and a shoulder to lean on,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said that players who take advantage of the locker room option will likely see McCoy helping out there after a full day of playing and managing.
“Doing laundry, hanging uniforms in lockers, vacuuming floors,” McLaughlin said.
He added that McCoy is a talented carpenter who built displays at the PDC. Not many players likely know that.
“Both on and off the field,” McLaughlin said, “he flies under the radar because he doesn’t call attention to himself.”
Now, this father of six and grandfather of six is included in elite Roy Hobbs Baseball company. Don’t expect McCoy to make a long-winded speech at the induction ceremony.
That’s not Tim McCoy’s style. His way is to be a team player, a quiet and humble leader and teammate, on and off the field and at his Hall of Fame induction.
“Tom (Giffen) won’t have to worry about me walking away with the mic,” McCoy said.
– Glenn Miller
And he said…
How did you get hooked on baseball? “Probably started when my dad would take my family to Sunday afternoon doubleheaders at Wrigley Field. Many times, those games were against Willie Mays and the Giants. Easy to get hooked watching one of the best.”
What keeps you playing? “It’s something I enjoy doing and the camaraderie with the vast majority of people I play with.”
What do you say to people who think you play softball? “No, not softball, baseball. I haven’t played softball since I got back on a baseball field.”
What’s your favorite Roy Hobbs memory? “As a local team we usually tried to play our doubleheader on Sunday, first day of the tournament and I had a good start this one year – batted 8 times with a home run, double, 2 singles and 2 walks.”
What does it mean to be elected to the Hall of Fame? “It’s good to know that you’re recognized and that your peers think you handle yourself in a positive way while playing this kid’s game.”
Ron Michaelson – Fort Myers, FL
Heart & soul of Avengers
Ron Michaelson is more than a newly-minted Roy Hobbs Hall of Famer. This 77-year-old veteran of 15 Roy Hobbs World Series trips and 3 championships sports has a diverse academic and athletic pedigree.
He has a master’s degree in political science from Northwestern and a Ph.D. in political science from Southern Illinois University. Michaelson served 29 years as executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections and is a member of the Springfield (Ill.) and the Illinois Basketball Coaches sports halls of fame, and the Wheaton College Hall of Fame
Most people aren’t in one Hall of Fame. Michaelson is now in three.
He’s always been an athlete balancing sports and academics. Michaelson was a catcher and team captain on the Maine Township High School team that won an Illinois state title in 1959.
When he played in his first Roy Hobbs World Series in 2005 he was hooked. That trip to Fort Myers was a revelation, from the fields to the competition to the camaraderie.
“I just had so much fun,” Michaelson said. “This is just unbelievable. There wasn’t any doubt about coming back.”
And he’s returned and returned and returned. His wife of 52 years, Jan, has never made the trip.
“She says all you do is eat, sleep and play baseball,” Michaelson said.
That’s basically the point of the Roy Hobbs World Series and makes it a good week, by any measure.
But Michaelson does more than play the game. He helps promote Roy Hobbs Baseball in Illinois and builds the Avengers, his team of many years.
“The team from Illinois is really due to Ron’s efforts,” said friend and teammate Jin Humay in the Hall of Fame vetting report.
Humay said the team has had its ups and downs. There were years the team didn’t win a game and other years it played .500 ball and then there were 3 World Series titles.
“Through it all, the constant has been Ron,” Humay said.
Not even two knee replacement surgeries have stopped Michaelson on or off the field.
“Equipment, housing, transportation schedule, practices, rosters, and lineups and building a team identity is within Ron’s responsibility, “ Humay said.
The intelligence it requires to be a University of Illinois professor, state elections official, basketball referee and baseball umpire has been applied to building Roy Hobbs for 15 years. From reviewing his vetting report Michaelson is one of those rare individuals blessed with both a high IQ and EQ. The lesser-known EQ is emotional quotient, a way to measure empathy and compassion.
“Ron is an individual any one of us would cherish as a friend,” Humay said. “He can be counted on in times of need, constantly reaching out to those who are ill or need assistance. Phone calls, hospital visits, food baskets and helping those in need with their assistance around their homes. Ron is very religious, but not in an overbearing way. He practices the life of a good son, husband, father and friend.”
Along with all that, he is also a catcher. Anybody who has caught since the 1950s has to be tough and that certainly applies to Michaelson, who had knees replaced in 2007 and 2008. Artificial knees won’t stop this professor and legend back in Illinois, where over a 37-year career he officiated more than 1,700 high school and college basketball games.
Professor Michaelson, who turns 78 on Dec. 31, intends to keep playing.
“I think it keeps guys young,” Michaelson said.
The Avengers know what this Hall of Famer means to their team.
“He is the heart and soul of the Avengers,” teammate Dick Cordier said. “Without him we wouldn’t exist.”
– Glenn Miller
And he said…
How did you get hooked on baseball? “I got hooked on baseball as a young kid. Our town (Park Ridge, Ill.) had a vibrant Little League program, which I joined when I was 8. … We had a vacant field across from our house and most every day in the summer we’d play in the field. … It was by far my favorite sport,”
What keeps you going? “I have a T-shirt which I purchased at the Roy Hobbs store. It says, ‘You don’t stop playing because you’re getting old, you get old because you stop playing.’ That sums it up perfectly, … I couldn’t think of quitting.”
What do you say to people who think you play softball? “I just laugh and say, this is real baseball.” No slow pitch. We play on diamonds with the same dimensions as major leaguers with essentially the same rules.”
What’s your favorite Roy Hobbs memory? “It was my first year playing, 2005. I had to be recruited to play. … Said I’d give it a try. … Had a blast.”
What does it mean being elected to the Hall of Fame? “Surprised, humbled and honored. It is a recognition that I never sought and have wondered whether it is deserved. So many guys have been part of this journey and also deserve credit. … But I will accept it and will cherish it always.”
Sam Sibeto – New Castle, PA
Steady and Reliable
A long time ago the New York Yankees boasted a steady outfielder nicknamed Old Reliable. That was stalwart Tommy Henrich, who played for the Yankees from 1937 to 1950, except for 3 years he missed because of World War II military service.
Reading through the Hall of Fame reports on Sam Sibeto, he comes across as a 21st century Tommy Henrich, a Roy Hobbs Old Reliable. His Pennsylvania teams and teammates can always count on Sibeto, a New Castle, Pa., resident. He will show up. He will do more than play. He will tidy fields and make sure dugouts are clean following games.
Hall of Fame nominator Rob Fester, a 2018 inductee, attested to Sibeto’s reliability in his nomination.
“Anytime there is a game, you can count on Sam being there,” Fester said. “You can count on him better than you can count on the weather. You know if there’s a game, you have a leadoff man, an outfielder, someone to line and drag the field, a guy that will be driving 3 other guys, a guy who has the equipment. Someone who will be there early and stay late after.”
That is Sam Sibeto, who at 59 still treasures the chance to suit up for games.
Maybe only other baseball players understand the thrill Sibeto gets from the seemingly routine task of lacing up his spikes before games.
“I don’t want to let go,” Sibeto said.
That is Sam Sibeto.
He’s been a baseball fan since boyhood, back when the Pirates still played in Forbes Field and the regal Roberto Clemente patrolled right field. His favorite Pirate, though, was outfielder/first baseman Al Oliver, who suited up game after game, year after year and played with a steady reliability.
That is Sam Sibeto – steady and reliable.
Not even profound health scares can keep Sibeto away. Hall of Fame reference Jim Ahlborn, a 2017 inductee, said Sibeto once nearly lost a leg because of his love for the game.
Ahlborn said Sibeto had played a game with a throbbing leg. A cardiologist said he had clotting issues and should get to a hospital for evaluation.
Sibeto wound up spending a month in the hospital. Ahlborn said there was a possibility of amputation.
“He made a comment to me from his hospital bed saying he’d rather die than lose a leg and not be able to play ball again,” Ahlborn said. “Now, understanding he was being heavily medicated at the time I took it with a grain of salt. But knowing his devotion and love of playing baseball, a big part of me believed him.”
That is Sam Sibeto.
That drive, dedication and love of the game explains why Sibeto has been a World Series fixture since 1995. Sibeto has traveled to Fort Myers since before his three children were born. He and his wife, Trina, have a 23-year-old son, Sam, Jr., and 16-year-old twins, Vince and Maria.
Sibeto pays attention to details, before, during and after games. He likes to be the first player to fields and the last to leave and tidies up the dugout.
“I leave it pretty much spotless,” Sibeto said.
That is Sam Sibeto.
– Glenn Miller
And he said…
How did you get hooked on baseball? “My earliest and fondest memories of baseball are going with my father to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates and Roberto Clemente play at Forbes Field. This started my interest in baseball. After being signed up for Little League and actually playing the game I love, I was hooked.”
What keeps you playing? “The feeling I get each and every time I’m putting on my spikes to run onto the field to practice or play in a game is indescribable and keeps me playing to this day. At the same time, I continue to play for the sportsmanship, friendship and competition.”
What do you say to people who think you play softball? “People ask me continuously this question and instead of getting into a long-detailed answer in the difference of the two sports I just correct them loudly and say “No, I still play baseball.’”
What is your favorite Roy Hobbs memory? “It is very difficult to select just one favorite memory over the past 24 years. My favorite parts of playing in Roy Hobbs is the feeling I get when I get to play on the professional fields with and against players from across the country, being able to play in the sport I love in the fall with a great national baseball affiliation and the times when I was able to be part of championship teams.”
What does it mean to be elected to the Hall of Fame? “I am not involved in playing baseball and the coaching of baseball for the recognition, but it feels really good to feel appreciated by the Roy Hobbs administration, national Roy Hobbs family and my fellow teammates. I am honored and thankful to all.”