William Alan Laskey Inducted 1999 - Class of 1975
When was the last time you "rubbed elbows" with Bobby Bonds of the San Francisco Giants; or Larry Bird, coach and former player for the Indiana Pacers? How about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Not lately, I'll bet. For WHS Hall of Fame Inductee, Bill Laskey, such an experience is not unusual. These sports celebrities are clients of Bill's "Celebrity Connection", an athlete promotion agency Bill has owned since 1991. After a successful pitching career in professional baseball, Bill’s competitive spirit transitioned well to a bold entrepreneurial spirit. Tonight, we honor him for all he has accomplished.
Bill grew up in the Lagrange/Weber Street neighborhood. "It was a middleclass, blue collar neighborhood, with close knit neighbors, who always watched over their homes, families and friends." Bill attended St. Adalbert Elementary School, just a few blocks away from where he lived.
In high school, Bill's closest friends were Bob Steedman, Dan Tyburski, Tim Wielinski, Norman Bell
and Joe McCreery. Bill has lost track of many of the friends he associated with due to his frequent moves and travels that have taken him across the country. Bill now lives in Burlington, California.
It was Dan Tyburski who gave Bill the nickname "Tree", which made sense considering his height (6'5") and the many hours they spent playing basketball. He was "christened" with the nickname at a pro-basketball game between the Detroit Pistons and the Atlanta Hawks. "Player Wayne 'Tree' Rollins picked me out of a crowd of kids and began to speak to me. Dan said to me ...You're the Tree!!!"
Bill acquired his "business sense" in DECA classes, which taught students “business ethics, how to succeed in business, motivation, the tools of a successful salesman, and proper ways to make money." Bill also learned valuable lessons from varsity baseball coach Fred Cieslewski. "He taught correct fundamentals. He busted your tail when you slowed down or slacked off. He made the game fun. He gave up his summers to keep you focused and advanced in competition. He made my dream come true... making It to the big leagues.
Bill recalls a humorous experience related to a particular baseball game. “But as I reflect on it, it was very serious at the time. After a close game, which we lost Coach Cieslewski was furious at us, as well as at himself. As we all got up to leave the park, after getting an earful from Coach, he was putting the gear in the trunk of his brown Nova. He took a wooden bat out and began to hit his trunk so hard that he was putting dents in the trunk. He finally broke the bat in two pieces. He then got in his car and sped off in a fury. It scared the heck out of all of us. To this day, I believe it made all of us true winners. We believed in our coach and his true heart to WIN."
Bill's other favorite memories all involve baseball. He remembers pitching against arch-rivals Central Catholic and Start during his senior year. "Both games were packed with fans, family, and the student body. Both games were pressure-packed and so dramatic. I pitched a shutout in each game, striking out 10 or more. It put me in a higher class of athlete. It made college scouts watch me closely!" Bill made First Team All City and was chosen MVP of the City of Toledo his senior year'. These were fitting rewards resulting from an accumulated won-loss record of 21-4 during the years he pitched at Woodward. He also played outfield, posting a batting average of .328 his senior year and an ERA of .65. Bill was also named First Team West Team All State. Bill then played ball for Monroe County Community College. He received an Associate Degree in 1977. He recorded seasons of 6- 1 and 12-1 with ERA's of less than 2.00 both seasons. He was named to the First Team Michigan Junior College both years, and was MVP of the team his second year. Bill was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in both 1976 and 1977.He continued playing ball at the college level at Kent State University In 1978. He had an 8-2 record, 1.85 ERA and was named to the First Team, All Mid-American Conference and MVP of the Kent State team.
Bill was drafted and signed by the Kansas City Royals in 1978. From 1978-1988, he performed in a number of leagues: Rookie Gulf Coast League, Single A Florida State League, AAA American Association League, AAA Pacific Coast League, and the International League. Bill made it to the "Big Leagues" in 1982.He was traded to the San Francisco Giants in 1982, to the Montreal Expos in 1985, and then back to the Giants in 1985. Local fans had the opportunity to watch Bill pitch in 1987, when he played for the Toledo Mud Hens - the Detroit Tigers affiliation. He pitched for the Cleveland Indians in 1988. In all, Bill spent 13 1/2 years in professional baseball, with 5 1/2 years of Major League Service. He also played winter baseball in Columbia, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Bill never forgot Woodward, as he promoted baseball clinics in the 80's for the WHS Athletic Department.
Highlights of Bill's professional baseball career include his first Major League start on April 28, 1982, when he pitched a shutout against the Montreal Expos. He led the San Francisco Giants in wins, ERA and innings pitched in 1982and 1983. Bill received the "Rookie Right-Handed Pitcher of the Year Award" from Baseball Digest in 1982. That year, he was the Topps Cards All-Rookie Team Pitcher and was in the Top Five in voting for National League Rookie of the Year.
After retiring from professional baseball in 1991, Bill started a Sports Talent Agency, "Celebrity Connection." He continues to own and operate it today. “Celebrity Connection" has become one of the top athlete and promotion agencies in the country. The agency books "today's and yesterday's" superstar athletes for a wide range of events: corporate speaking engagements, sports clinics, special events, fundraisers, banquets, charity events, grand openings, and advertising campaigns. Bill's client list includes sports personalities from the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB. "Celebrity Connection" has grown since its inception, expanding to events nationwide.
"Celebrity Connection" has also raised funds for several non-profit organizations such as The Association for Retarded Citizens, The Alta Bates Foundation, Hope Hospice, Christian Brothers St. Helena Hospital, and The Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse. Since 1992, a featured annual event has been the Bill Laskey Child Abuse Prevention Council Celebrity Golf Tournament and Benefit Dinner. The event has raised more than $250,000 for the benefitting charity.
Bill has been married to Janis for 12 years. They have a daughter, Brittany, who is 8 years old. Bill's parents are Zig and Helen Laskey. He has a brother, Robert, and a sister, Peggy Burrows. Both are Woodward grads.
When asked about his hobbies, Bill replied that "My passion will always be baseball. After 13 1/2 years in professional baseball, I consider myself a fan now watching and appearing at Candlestick Park as frequently as I can." Bill also enjoys golf, especially the great courses in Northern California.
When asked his thoughts about being elected to the WHS Hall of Fame, Bill replied that "many memories came to mind ... the many days of hard schoolwork, the many hours of dedication to the sport of baseball, the hard practices, the players I played with, and the motivation and determination I learned from Fred Cieslewski to work hard and YOU WILL WIN!"
So Woodward Sports Fans ... if you want to spend some time with Joe Montana, Orlando Cepeda, Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, John Wooden, the Harlem Globetrotters, or Pete Rose, call Bill Laskey. He can set it up. And If you want to see Bill Laskey's picture, side-by-side, along with other WHS Hall of Famers, visit Woodward High School. It will be there, in the main lobby trophy case, where it belongs. He's earned it. Congratulations, Bill!