It was only appropriate, that on the 75th anniversary of the first home game in Hershey Bears history, that the first ever Hershey Bears Hall of Fame class was enshrined. Seven men were honored for their accomplishments as players, coaches. builders and a game official.
In a pre-game ceremony hosted by the voice of hockey, Mike “Doc” Emrick, a sell out crowd at Giant Center witnessed the first seven inductees officially enter the Hershey Bears Hall of Fame.
Longtime President, General Manager, coach and player Frank Mathers was associated with the Bears for over three decades. “This is the ninth hall of fame Frank Mathers is in and this one would have been the most special to him,” said his son J.D Mathers
Three other legendary players were also inducted, including the AHL’s all time leader scorer Willie Marshall. “Any time you are in the initial class is really really special. Hershey was a special place for me,” said Marshall. “I married a girl from Palmyra and my first two children were born in Hershey. I have a lot of roots here. Hershey has always been the gold standard of the AHL.”
Ralph Keller was Captain of the 1973-74 Calder Cup championship team. Keller ranks first in scoring all time for Bears defenseman. Keller was also inducted into the hall. “It’s a feeling that is hard to express. Hershey is a great hockey town. The fans are fantastic. Playing in Hershey was the greatest 12 years of my career,” said Keller.
Mike Nykoluk player for the Bears from 1958 to 1972. He’s played in more games for Hershey than any other player. “When they retired my number  I thought what could be better than that. This is something special. I give Doug Yingst [Bears President and GM] all the credit. He’s made a lot of us old timers feel pretty good.”
Longtime player, coach and executive Lloyd Blinco was also inducted, along with the man who introduced hockey to Hershey, John Sollenberger. Former game official Art Fausnacht was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The “voice” of the NHL and former Hershey resident, Mike “Doc” Emrick mc’d both the pre-event private luncheon and the on ice ceremony. “Only seven medallions are being handed out and I can think of 50 more we could give out. This franchise has such a history. A lot of guys are worthy, you could be all night presenting them, so we are going to start with seven.”
The Hall of Fame plaques are on display at Giant Center in the concourse area.