While its not quite the same honor that awaits him at the Hockey Hall of Fame a few years from now, NHL legend and former Bruins forward Mark Recchi was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame last week.
Recchi was inducted on Nov. 17 in a hockey-centric ceremony along with New Jersey Devils President and Rhode Island legend Lou Lamoriello, who made up part of a class that celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Hall of Fame that celebrates Italian ancestry.
Other noteworthy NIASHF honorees included Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, Olympic gymnast and Winchester, Mass. native Alicia Sacramone and former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz.
Recchi, of course, ended his 22-year NHL career with a key leadership role on the Bruins Stanley Cup winning team in 2011, and finished with three Stanley Cup championships on his resume along with 1.533 career points in 1,652 games. Recchi is a Kamloops, British Columbia native, but has settled in the Pittsburgh area following his career qualifying him as decidedly Italian-American.
According to the Italian American Sports Hall of Fames website they started as an Italian American Boxing Hall of Fame that eventually evolved into honoring Italians in all sports. From the site:
In 1977, George Randazzo founded the Italian American Boxing Hall of Fame as a way to raise money for a struggling local Catholic youth program. Randazzo collected boxing photos and memorabilia, a hobby that inspired him to organize a fundraising dinner that brought together a list of boxing greats and celebrities. The dinner honored twenty-three former Italian American boxing world champions, including Rocky Graziano, Jake LaMotta, Sammy Angott, Willie Pep, and posthumously Rocky Marciano, Primo Carnera and Tony Canzoneri.
The results were so overwhelming that a friend and local businessman, Don Ponte, encouraged Randazzo to start a Hall of Fame to honor all Italian American athletes. One year later, the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame was founded as a non-profit, educational institution. The first induction ceremony and banquet was a star-studded event, as the Hall of Fame honored Lou Ambers, Eddie Arcaro, Charlie Trippi, Gino Marchetti, Dom DiMaggio and The Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio. Mrs. Vince Lombardi also accepted the posthumous induction of her late husband, Coach Vince Lombardi.