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Halton Hills Sports Hall of Fame inducts class of 2024

“My father would have been honoured to be inducted into the hall of fame with these other worthy inductees," says Peter Marzo
The Halton Hills Sports Hall of Fame inducted its class of 2024 Thursday evening. (from left) David Mills, Don Hodge, David Hodge, Ken Hodge, Amanda Burke and Jeanette Stewart (accepting on behalf of Kevin Burke) and Peter Marzo (accepting on behalf of Ilio Marzo).

Kevin Burke dreamed of playing for the New York Yankees. So at the age of 16, with no money, he left his home in Belle Island, Nfld. and hitchhiked to Ontario, hoping for more opportunity to play the game he loved. 

Burke never realized his dream of wearing Yankee pinstripes, and for that baseball players in Georgetown can be thankful. Instead Burke poured his passion for the game into establishing the Georgetown (now Halton Hills) Eagles, leading the town’s first rep team to the provincial final.

“His unyielding love of the game taught him, and created in him, grit, discipline and determination that would be the hallmark of his character,” his daughter Jeanette Stewart said at Thursday’s Halton Hills Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony, held in the Gordon Alcott Heritage Hall at Mold-Masters SportsPlex. “His ability to take that passion and commitment for this sport and focus it, helped to create competitive baseball in Halton Hills.”

Though Burke died in January of 2023, his influence continues to be felt in the community through those that he coached. 

“He shaped who we were as young men,” said Kevin Hughes, a member of the first Eagles team. “Because of his influence, a lot of us have gone on to do a lot of local coaching. He epitomizes what it means to be a local sports coach. I can never thank him enough.”

David Mills’ impact also continues to be felt on local diamonds. The Acton native has worked five national fastball championships as an umpire and served as umpire-in-chief for six more.

But on his way to earning the top umpiring certification in the country, he called games on local diamonds and started junior umpiring clinics.

“My whole goal was to try to make things better in the sport of fastball, not just for umpires, but for competitors and also the organizations,” Mills said, crediting those who mentored him, including 2017 inductee Noreen Atkinson. "The challenges I faced in the boardroom definitely make the discussions I had with coaches on the ball diamond over a difference of opinion seem minor.”

Mills continues to recruit and encourage others to get involved in umpiring, an effort that started at home.

“My greatest honour was working on the diamond with my two kids, Samantha and Matthew. Both are amazing umpires and I can’t think of a prouder moment than seeing them perform and succeed at a Canadian championship.”

Ilio Marzo made his hometown junior team when he was just 14 years old. He later led Acton to the 1939 Ontario Intermediate B championship, a series that went so late into the spring that the final had to be played in Galt, at the time one of the few rinks in the province with artificial ice.

“Almost the entire town went to Galt to watch the final,” said Peter Marzo, who accepted his father’s honour. 

And while Acton loved its team, its star player felt the same way about the town where he would return to coach following his professional career and his time in the Canadian military.

“He loved his teammates, he loved his family,” Peter Marzo said. “He loved the town of Acton and all the support the people gave him throughout his entire life.”

Marzo had just earned his big break, signing a contract with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears in 1942 when he was drafted into the Canadian army.

“I know my father would have been honoured to be inducted into the hall of fame with these other worthy inductees," Peter Marzo said.

Hodge Brothers Racing was the envy of vintage motorcycle racing for a quarter of a century.

“Everybody at the track wanted to talk to (team mechanic) Don Hodge,” said Bob Inglis, who spoke on behalf of the family at the induction ceremony. “They wanted to know how he set up motorcycles, wanted to know how to do this, how to do that.”

And despite freely giving away the valuable information, there was usually a Hodge standing atop the podium at the end of the race. Ken dominated the vintage racing circuit for two decades, until he had to start competing against his son David.

“It was a regular occurrence for father and son to finish first and second, depending who had the better day," Inglis said. "Ken once set a new track record at  Shannonville and David passed his dad on the next lap and broke his track record. So Ken held the track record for about two minutes.”

“About a minute, 10 (seconds),” Ken said.

Ken Hodge’s record may have been fleeting, but the accomplishments and influence of Thursday’s Halton Hills Sports Hall of Fame inductees will live on.


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Herb Garbutt

About the Author: Herb Garbutt

Herb Garbutt has lived in Halton HIlls for 30 years. During that time he has worked in Halton Region covering local news and sports, including 15+ years in Halton Hills
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