Peck to receive Lefty Grove Award
January 26, 2003
Richard Pryor once said that no matter how heated the discussion about boxing got to be in the barber shop when he was a kid, one name would invariably and suddenly solve all the issues of the day. But what if he had fought Sugar Ray Robinson? Uh ... oh, um ... Hmmm. Oh my God, yes ... the Sugar! Watching him box brings joy to your heart! Lyle Peck didn’t box, but if he had, you wouldn’t have wanted to be in the ring with him. And that’s not because he’s a frightening person (unless, of course, you were a cornerback and Peck was leading a sweep). Far from it, in fact. Peck was, is and always will be a mild-mannered gentleman. But, you see, when you’re throwing around the names of the great athletes who have come out of this area, a lot of the issues of the day will suddenly be solved when you offer this name. What about Lyle Peck? Uh ... oh ... um. Oh my God, yes. Lyle Peck. Watching him play sports brought joy to your heart.
Watching Peck play sports did bring joy to your heart because there aren’t many who have enjoyed playing sports as much as Peck did. And there aren’t many who were nearly as good as Peck was when he was playing them. A former All-State football player and sprint champion at Fort Hill High School, and a two-year letterman for the University of Maryland football Terrapins, Peck will be the 28th recipient of the Lefty Grove Retroactive Memorial Award during the 55th annual Dapper Dan Awards Banquet Saturday, Feb. 1, 6 p.m., at the Ali Ghan Shrine Club.
Proceeds from the Dapper Dan dinner benefit the Allegany County League for Crippled Children. Former Maryland Speaker of the House Casper Taylor Jr. will be honored that evening with the George W. Stevenson-Nicholas A. Perlozzo Memorial Award, the Dapper Dan Clubs top award. Johnny Byrnes, Johnny Long, Dr. Karl Heintz, Ernie Schramm, Dr. Charles Zimmerman, Ike Cessna, Chip Grindle, Marie Boyd Eichler, Ray Middleton, Charles Doyle, Herman Koegel, Ebbie Finzel, John Meyers, Jim Gaffney, George Geatz Sr., Fred Hamilton, Charlie Lattimer, Tommy Mont, Fred Davis, Tommy Powers, Don Moran, Ed Athey, Mike Long, Junie Perry, Gary Inskeep Fred McMillan, and Spunk Perlozzo. They are the previous recipients of the Lefty Grove Award athletes and people who have left an indelible mark in our memories for the skill, grace and dignity they brought to our games.
And skill, grace and dignity are three words that begin to describe Lyle Peck. At 6-feet, 4-inches, 215 pounds, Peck once ran the 100-yard dash in 9.8 seconds. From the moment he first stepped on a football field for Roy Manges and the VFW Patriots, he had your attention. Particularly if it was your job to tackle him. Of course, you had to catch him first. But Peck was far from being a sprinter playing football. He was a ferocious blocker as a fullback for the Fort Hill Sentinels and he was a tenacious tackler as Charlie Lattimer’s monster on defense. In his two seasons as a varsity football player for the Sentinels, the first-team Fort Hill defense didn’t surrender a run longer than 25 yards. Peck, teammate and friend Steve Trimble, who would accept a scholarship at Maryland on the same night, were two of the biggest reasons why. As a junior, Peck was a split end and his 60-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Jim Penner brought the Sentinels back from a 6-0 deficit in the 1974 Homecoming Game against Allegany. Fort Hill would overcome another deficit and go on to win the game, 21-13. In 1975, as a senior, Peck was moved to fullback and led the way for Trimble, at tailback, to produce one of the most electrifying seasons in Cumberland football history as the Sentinels went 12-0 to win the Maryland Class A (now 3A) state championship.
Former Allegany Camper Toby Eirich, whose job it was to fend off blocks by Peck, and to tackle Peck, wrote in his Ode to The Game, a tribute to the Allegany-Fort Hill football history, “Touchdown Twins vs. Thunder and Lightning; Bruce/Abrams vs. Trimble/Peck”. Eirich has a strong sense for Cumberland sports history, and looks back on his career as an athlete at Allegany with fondness with two exceptions. “I still have a scar on my shoulder from when Trimble ran over me”, he once said. “As for Lyle ... I’m glad I had the chance to play against him. And I’m glad I never have to again. He was unreal. ”
Before moving on to Maryland, where he twice lettered as a linebacker and was on Terrapins’ Sun Bowl team, Peck closed his career at Fort Hill with a 92-yard touchdown run in the Sentinels 34-8 state-championship game victory over Frederick Douglass at Friendly High School. Peck was in and through the line of scrimmage and along the Douglass sideline at midfield in the matters of seconds. It was Lyle Peck in all his athletic glory as he reached the end zone 30 yards sooner than the closest Frederick Douglass defender. As the Fort Hill fans and the Sentinel team erupted in triumph, Peck turned around to leave the end zone, and calmly handed the football to the official.
Finally, the Douglass safety pulled up as he had just reached the end zone. “Nice run”, the out-of-breath safety said. Peck looked at his opponent, gave him five, and in his trademark calm demeanor said, “Thanks, man.”
For Dapper Dan Awards Banquet ticket information, call The Sports Shoppe in Cumberland at (301) 722-5490.
Text: Cumberland Times-News
Photograph from the 1974 Fort Hill Sabre
Allegany County, Maryland
African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008