Retirement has been very good to Joe Maize.

The longtime Peters Township High School coach and athletic director hasn’t lost a baseball game in a year and has been selected to two halls of fame.

“People have been calling here asking to speak to Derek Jeter,” Maize said referring to the recent Baseball Hall of Fame honoree. “That shows how fortunate I have been the last couple of months.”

It was announced Tuesday morning that Maize has been named to the WPIAL Hall of Fame. He is one of 16 former athletes, coaches, officials, contributors and teams selected. He joins former WPIAL and state rifle champion Rob Gagliani of Avella, and Yough athletic director Tom Evans, a Donora native and high school umpire, in the latest hall of fame class.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic and social-gathering restrictions, the 14th WPIAL Hall of Fame banquet and induction ceremony has been postponed. Those announced Tuesday will be inducted as the 2021 class. The banquet will be held May 28, 2021 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Green Tree.

In February, Maize was selected to the Washington-Greene Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

“Both recognitions mean a great deal to me,” Maize said. “I’m proud to tell people that I grew up in Waynesburg and I’m a Greene County guy. I moved to Washington County when I was 22 years old and have been here ever since.

“When I found out about the WPIAL Hall of Fame, I got real emotional. The WPIAL has been such a big part of my life, and the lives of my sons, Aaron and Ryan. I’ve developed relationships with so many coaches, umpires, media and athletic directors along the way.”

In 35 years of coaching at Peters Township, Mazie compiled an impressive 422-241 (.637 winning percentage) record. He retired after the 2019 baseball season.

Maize started his coaching career at Peters Township as the Indians’ girls softball coach in 1978. It was a position he held through 1984, when he became PT’s baseball coach.

Under Maize’s direction, the Indians became one of the top programs in the WPIAL, qualifying for the postseason 17 times while playing in some of its most competitive sections.

“I told (assistant coaches) Rudy Pokorny and Jack Kerekes that one of the highlights of our careers was when we went undefeated one year, 12-0, in section play because I didn’t think it was possible,” Maize said. “You have teams like Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair and Bethel Park in the section and I didn’t know if anybody would be able to go undefeated.”

Maize guided Peters Township to WPIAL Class 4A championships in 2007 and 2008, to PIAA runner-up finishes in 2004 and 2005, and a pair of undefeated regular seasons.

More than 100 of Maize’s players went on to play college baseball, eight played professionally and three became majors leaguers.

Maize spent 20 years as Peters Township’s athletic director and 34 years on the WPIAL soccer steering committee. He recently completed his seventh year as its chairman.

Maize is a native of Waynesburg and graduate of Waynesburg Central and Slippery Rock University.

Evans, a 1980 Ringgold graduate, was selected as a baseball and softball umpire. He was the only person chosen in the category this year.

“I was humbled when I found out,” Evans said.

He started a 35-year umpiring career in the youth leagues at age 16, when he was a junior at Donora High School, after attending a clinic for potential umpires. Evans started out making $2 per game.

By the time he was 18, Evans had passed the PIAA umpires test and was working high school games, many in the Mon Valley with Jim Chacko. At age 21, Evans was umpiring WPIAL playoff games. Evans also credited former Ringgold athletic director Paul Zolak and former WPIAL baseball steering committee member Tom Caudill for their help in his development.

In Evans’ umpiring career, he has worked 15 WPIAL championship games and three PIAA finals. He was the home-plate umpire in two of those state championship games. He also umpired at the college level.

In 2010, Evans was hired as Yough’s athletic director after 16 years as an assistant AD. He served on the WPIAL golf and wrestling steering committees and the WPIAL board of directors. He is a past president of the WPIAL Athletic Directors Association and was named the 2016 Athletic Director of the Year.

Gagliani was one of the most successful rifle shooters in WPIAL history. A 2009 Avella graduate, Gagliani was the first person to win multiple WPIAL rifle championships and the first to win the title three times. He did so in consecutive years, 2007, ’08 and ’09. He placed in the top 10 in the PIAA Championships three times and won the state title as a senior.

What made Gagliani’s accomplishments even more impressive was that by his senior year he had been shooting competitively for only three years. Avella’s rifle program was started when Gagliani was a freshman but he didn’t try out for the team.

He joined the team as a sophomore and finished in a three-way tie for the WPIAL individual championship. As a junior, Gagliani tied with six other shooters for the individual title and helped Avella win the team championship.

As a senior, Gagliani shot in the first flight at the WPIAL Championships and put up an impressive 200-19x score, then had to wait for several agonizing hours as the other shooters competed but none could beat his score. He capped the year with a state championship.

Gagliani competed at Morehead State University and was second team All-Ohio Valley Conference and All-Western Collegiate Rifle Association.

Gagliani could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The other inductees in the athlete category are Natalie Bower Toman (cross country/track) and Michela Kissell Eddins (tennis), each from Latrobe; Jimmy Gulibon (wrestling, Derry); Ed Josefoski (volleyball, Penn Hills); Katie Miller Gee (golf, Hempfield); Samantha Pickens (diving, Franklin Regional) and Darelle Revis (Aliquippa, football).

Gene Klein, former boys soccer coach at Quaker Valley, joins Maize in the coaching category. Amy Caprino (gymnastic chairperson) and Davis Hayes (WPIAL Board of Directors) were named as contributors. Teams chosen were the 1980 North Hills softball team and the 2004 Upper St. Clair boys soccer team. Joe Tranchini, a three-sport standout at Clairton in the 1950s is the heritage selection. Bethel Park three-sport athlete Anthony Chiccitt will receive the Courage Award.

Sports Editor

Since 1986, Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for the Observer-Reporter, and named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger, and a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

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