Hall of Fame Class of 2011

  • By Bryan Messerly
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  • May 22, 2011 12:00 AM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Six outstanding contributors to Mountaineer athletics make up the 21st class of honorees in the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame, announced today by Director of Athletics Oliver Luck.

The 2011 class includes Warren Baker, Canute Curtis, Joseph Harrick, Jim Heise, Pat Itanyi Williams and Steve Newberry.

Induction ceremonies will take place Saturday, Oct. 8, prior to the West Virginia-Connecticut football game. This class brings the total number of inductees to 134.

Warren Baker

A native of White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Warren Baker was a dominant inside player for the Mountaineer men’s basketball team from 1973-76.

For his career, he scored 1,556 points and grabbed 1,070 rebounds, and is the only player in school history to lead WVU in rebounding in each of his four seasons. Baker and Jerry West still rank as the only two players in school history to score more than 1,500 points and grab 1,000 rebounds. To this day, he is one of four players in school history to grab more than 1,000 rebounds.

Baker, who currently ranks 13th in career scoring at WVU, led the Mountaineers in scoring as a freshman and sophomore with 16.6 and 17.7 points per game, respectively. He averaged a double-double for his career with 14.8 points and 10.2 rebounds, and ranks third in school history in career rebounds.

His best scoring effort in a Mountaineer uniform came on Jan. 4, 1975, when he scored 39 points against Boston University. Baker had 22 rebounds in a game on two occasions, grabbing 22 boards against Richmond on Jan. 23, 1974, and against Pitt on Dec. 3, 1974. He had 26 career 20-point games and is WVU’s all-time leader in freshman scoring (16.6 ppg) and rebounding (11.2 rpg).

Baker had 54 double-doubles during his Mountaineer career, ranking second in school history behind West (70).

Co-captain of the 1975-76 squad during his senior year, Baker is a member of the 1976-85 WVU all-time men’s basketball team.

Baker received his bachelor’s degree in history and physical education from WVU in 1977 and his master’s degree in counseling and guidance from WVU in 1981.

Following his career at WVU, Baker spent time in construction before becoming a guidance counselor at Westover Junior High for seven years. After coaching basketball and teaching physical education at West Virginia Wesleyan, as well as coaching at North Marion High where he was twice named NCAC Coach of the Year, Baker has spent the last 23 years as an assistant professor of education at Fairmont State University. In 2005, he was the recipient of the William A. Boram Award for teaching excellence at Fairmont State.

He has served as a basketball analyst for the past 10 years on WAJR Morgantown and for the last four years as an analyst on the Mountaineer Sports Network for WVU women’s basketball.

Baker and his wife, Ann, reside in Canonsburg, Pa.

Canute Curtis

One of West Virginia’s most decorated defenders, Canute Curtis was a three-year starter at rush linebacker, appearing in 43 games with 36 career starts from 1993-96.

A native of Amityville, N.Y., Curtis earned consensus All-America honors in 1996 after anchoring the nation’s No. 1-rated defense. The 1996 BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, he ranks first in the WVU record books in career sacks (34.5) and single season sacks (16.5). As a senior, he ranked second in the nation with 16.5 sacks for 121 yards. A finalist for the Dick Butkus and Bronko Nagurski Awards, he made 67 tackles in 1996, while leading the Mountaineers to an 8-4 record and a Gator Bowl appearance.

Playing for coach Don Nehlen, Curtis made 192 tackles (126 solo), six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and 15 career pass breakups. In four years, he helped WVU to a 31-17 record and three bowl appearances. In his career, he made 35 consecutive starts.

During his senior season, Curtis paced the 1996 defense that ranked first nationally in total defense (217.5), second in rush defense (61.5), fourth in scoring defense (12.4) and fifth in pass efficiency defense (86.8).

Curtis was a unanimous selection to the all-BIG EAST first team as a senior and earned second team honors as a junior. In 1996, he was named as the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week three times. His 16.5 season sacks mark currently ranks fourth in BIG EAST history and also ranks fourth among BIG EAST career sack leaders.

A 1997 graduate of WVU, Curtis was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the sixth round of the NFL draft. In six years with the Bengals, he appeared in 70 games and started at linebacker in 15 contests.

In the 2001 season, he appeared in all 16 games and started four times, registering 28 tackles.

The 2002 season was his final NFL season, and it may have been his best campaign. He played in all 16 games for coach Dick LeBeau and started at outside linebacker 11 times. He finished ninth on the team with 51 tackles.

In his career with the Bengals, he made 101 tackles and had three quarterback sacks.

In 2004, Curtis started his coaching career as a linebackers coach at Towson. After one season there, he spent three years as defensive line and special teams coordinator at Tennessee State. Curtis spent the 2008 season as defensive line coach at Hampton before returning to Towson, where he has been defensive line coach for the past two seasons.
Curtis and his wife, LaToya, have two children, Logan, who was named after former WVU teammate and NFL player Mike Logan, and Cydney.

Joseph Harrick

Joseph Harrick, a native of Punxsutawney, Pa., is the only known 16-time letterwinner in WVU history.

Harrick, who attended WVU from 1917-21, earned four varsity letters each in football, baseball, wrestling and track. In baseball, he was a pitcher and outfielder and was captain of the 1921 team that posted a 20-7 record. On the gridiron, he played tackle and blocked three punts in a game against Maryland, earning the nickname “Leapin’ Joe.” In track, he participated in the shot put, discus, javelin and 440-yard dash. In wrestling, Harrick finished runner-up to NCAA light-heavyweight champion Jock Sutherland.

Harrick was named to the Chicago Tribune third team All-America squad in football in 1919. He was named an honorable mention lineman on the all-century WVU football team and was tabbed a member of the 1919-29 WVU all-time football team.

After graduation, he signed a minor league contract with the Detroit Tigers before a knee injury forced him to retire in 1922.

Following his playing days, he coached high school athletics for 26 years. Harrick coached football in Gary, W.Va., from 1922-24, Jeannette, Pa., from 1925-29, Johnstown, Pa., from 1930-36 and Punxsutawney, Pa., from 1936-42 and 1946-50. While he was in Johnstown, his teams only lost six games in six years and his Punxsutawney team went undefeated in 1941. Harrick also coached baseball and track and field at Punxsutawney. He was inducted into the Punxsutawney Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.

Harrick married Florahan Hahn in 1926 and they had four children, Joseph W., William, Mary Ann (Barilar) and Marjorie (Shenk).

Harrick, brother of WVU Sports Hall of Famer Steve Harrick, was born in 1895 and died in 1958 at the age of 62.

Jim Heise

One of the best pitchers in WVU baseball history, Jim Heise rewrote the Mountaineer record book during his career from 1953-56.

A native of Scottdale, Pa., Heise set 10 WVU pitching records during his Mountaineer career. Those records include career wins (24), season wins (10), career earned run average (2.22), career strikeouts (277), season strikeouts (111), career winning percentage (.706), career innings pitched (283.1), season innings pitched (106.2), career appearances (58) and season appearances (18). His 58 career appearances still stands as a school record. His career innings pitched currently ranks second, and he is third in career strikeouts.

Heise led the Mountaineers in wins three times, strikeouts four times and ERA once during his career, leading the team in all three categories during the 1955 season. He was named to the all-Southern Conference first team in 1953, 1955 and 1956. Playing for coach Steve Harrick, Heise led WVU to one of its most successful seasons in 1955. The team finished with a 20-6 record and nearly advanced to the College World Series. The Mountaineers compiled a 55-29 record during his career, with Heise being responsible for 24 of those victories.

He graduated from WVU with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1956. Heise then went on to a successful professional baseball career. He was signed before the 1956 season by the Washington Senators as an amateur free agent. He spent the 1956 season pitching for Hobbs Sports (New Mexico) of the B level Southwestern League. He helped the team to the league title, appearing in 21 games with an 8-5 record.

He began the 1957 season with the Midland/Lamesa Indians (Texas) and the Chattanooga Lookouts (Tennessee). He was called up to the American League Washington Senators, where he appeared in eight games under manager Cookie Lavagetto.

From 1958-60, he spent the majority of his time with the Lookouts, but also made appearances with the Charlotte Hornets and the Charleston Senators. He played six seasons in the minor leagues with 145 appearances, 85 starts, 706.0 innings pitched, 35 wins and a 3.88 ERA.
His father, Clarence Heise, spent six seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals.

After Heise retired from professional baseball, he moved to Orlando, where he became a teacher, coach and administrator for 32 years before he retired in 2002.

Heise died at the age of 80 on April 21, 2011. He and his wife, Peggy, were married for 51 years. They had two daughters, Cheryl Vigue and Jamie Olson.

Pat Itanyi

West Virginia University’s first-ever female track and field national champion, Pat Itanyi Williams was one of the sport’s most decorated performers, earning seven All-America honors and establishing six school records (four of which still stand) from 1995-97.

The native of Ukehe, Nigeria, who won the 1995 long jump title at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, came to WVU after one season at Alabama A&M, where she was an All-American in the 100-meter hurdles and heptathlon.
Itanyi’s initial season at WVU produced a national title, three All-America honors, three Atlantic 10 titles and an ECAC title. She was also the Atlantic 10’s female Track Athlete of the Year.

Her leap of 22’1” at the NCAA Outdoor Championships was the longest in WVU history (a record that still stands today) and 10th longest in NCAA history at the time. She also participated in the 100-meter hurdles at the event. Her other All-America honors that year came during the indoor season as she finished third in the long jump and fifth in the 55-meter hurdles at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

As a junior, she picked up another All-America certificate with a fifth-place jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships while also qualifying in the 55-meter hurdles. Outdoors she qualified in the 100-meter hurdles and long jump. Also that year, she won BIG EAST and ECAC titles in the long jump.

In 1997, Itanyi closed with a flourish, posting three more All-America performances in the heptathlon and long jump to give her seven for her brilliant Mountaineer career.

Her 5,647 points in the grueling seven-event heptathlon at the NCAA Outdoor Championships broke her own school record of 5,577 points and earned her a fifth-place finish. She also finished third in the long jump at the same meet. Earlier that year, she had an eighth-place finish in the long jump at the indoor championships.

At the time, the seven All-America citations were the most by a Mountaineer female track and field athlete and matched the seven won by Olympic gold medalist and future NFL player James Jett (1989-92).
In addition to her success in Morgantown, Itanyi represented her country in international competition as an athlete and coach.

She qualified for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta but did not compete due to injury. After winning the heptathlon in the 1998 All-African games, setting a record that still stands today, and finishing second in the same event in ’99, she qualified for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and competed in the long jump to become WVU’s first female track and field Olympian.

A 1997 graduate of WVU with a degree in physical education, Itanyi returned to WVU in 2002 as a graduate assistant coach. She earned her master’s degree in athletic coaching in 2003 and later served as a full-time assistant until 2005. During that span, she coached eight BIG EAST qualifiers and two All-Americans. After leaving WVU, she became a coach for the Nigerian national team and represented the nation in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, Anthony Williams, the associate head track coach at Villanova, and their daughter, Tonya.

Steve Newberry

One of the top defensive backs in school history, Peterstown, W.Va., native Steve Newberry holds the all-time career interceptions record at WVU with 20.

A four-year letterman from 1980-83 playing for coach Don Nehlen, Newberry registered 191 tackles, including 138 solo, with three tackles for loss during his career. A part-time starter as a freshman, Newberry recorded 42 tackles and had a team-high six interceptions, the most picks by a freshman at that time. He had 37 tackles and four interceptions as a sophomore, 65 tackles and five interceptions as a junior and 47 tackles and five interceptions as a senior. Newberry had 20 career passes broken up and returned 13 punts during his career for 162 yards.

Newberry played in three bowl games during his Mountaineer career: the upset win over Florida in the 1981 Gator Bowl, the 1982 Gator Bowl against Florida State and the 1983 Hall of Fame Bowl comeback victory over Kentucky.

Newberry set the career interceptions record against Pacific with the 16th pick of his career on Sept. 10, 1983. He also had a career best eight tackles in that game. Newberry had seven solo tackles in the Gator Bowl win over Florida. He broke up four passes against eventual national champion Miami on Oct. 29, 1983.

As a senior, he earned Associated Press honorable mention All-America honors and was named to the AP all-East first team. Newberry received the Ideal Mountaineer Award, exhibiting the characteristics of a West Virginia football player – a positive attitude, solid academic standing, outstanding leadership, perseverance on the field, outstanding athletic achievement and good citizenship. Newberry is a member of the 1980-89 WVU all-time football team.

Newberry graduated from WVU with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. Following his graduation, Newberry signed a free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys in 1984 and became owner of Newberry Ford, Inc., in Pearisburg, Va., in 1990. He has served as an assistant football coach at Peterstown High since 1991, before it became James Monroe High in 1994. He helped Peterstown High to the Class A state championship in 1991. He also managed the West Virginia Rattlers in the Carolina-Virginia Collegiate Athletic League, a summer baseball squad for college students.

Newberry, and his wife, Lynn, have two children. Their son, Nick, was a baseball player at West Virginia Wesleyan and daughter, Kelly, was a volleyball player at Concord.