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Filliben, Mench among Delaware Sports Hall of Fame inductees


Dialog reporter


WILMINGTON — Two Catholic high school graduates are among the 10 athletes, coaches and officials who will be inducted into the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame at its 42nd banquet on May 16 at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. Vince Filliben, who coached multiple sports at Archmere Academy for 31 years, and Kevin Mench, a graduate of St. Mark’s High School and former Major League Baseball slugger, join eight others going into the hall.

Filliben was a fixture at Archmere as a student and coach. He graduated in 1947, having been an outstanding athlete in football, basketball and baseball. Following his graduation, he starred at Drexel in basketball and baseball and played three seasons of minor-league baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system.

He served in the Korean War and, while still in the U.S. Army, he received a call from Archmere principal Father Justin Diny offering him the opportunity to coach and teach math, according to his obituary. Filliben began his 37-year career with the Auks in the fall of 1954.

Filliben coached football from 1954-58, basketball from 1954-85 and baseball, also from 1954-85. He also served as athletic director until 1992. He was an official with the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials and a rules interpreter for 20 years. When he stepped down from coaching basketball, he was Delaware’s winningest coach with 378 victories.

The court at Archmere’s Moglia Fieldhouse is named in his honor, and he is a member of the Archmere, Delaware Basketball and Delaware County (Pa.) Sports halls of fame.

A longtime member of Church of the Holy Child in Brandywine Hundred, Filliben was a lector, usher and Eucharistic minister, and he was a founder and later Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus Council 12190. He was also a fourth-degree Knight. He died in 2015 at the age of 85.

Mench, a 1996 alumnus of St. Mark’s, starred for the Spartans and was the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior. He also played for the University of Delaware, leading the Blue Hens to two NCAA tournaments. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 1999 and reached the majors in 2002. He hit 15 home runs and drove in 60 runs as a rookie, finishing seventh in American League Rookie of the Year voting.

He homered three times in a game against the Los Angeles Angels in 2005, and a year later, he homered in seven consecutive games, the all-time record for right-handed hitters. Later that season, Mench was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. He also spent time with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Washington Nationals, and he spent the 2009 season in Japan with the Hanshin Tigers.

Mench, 39, lives in Texas with his wife and three children.

The other eight inductees are:

  • Adam Eaton, the first Delaware native to play in the National Hockey League
  • Kristen Mills Caldwell, a multi-sport standout at Caravel Academy, where she is currently the girls’ basketball coach
  • Scott Gregory, a U.S. national ice-dancing champion and former Olympian
  • Butch Simpson, who coached Newark High School to nine state football championships in his 39 seasons
  • John Coveleski, who coached lacrosse, football and baseball at Caesar Rodney
  • Jack Starr, winner of more than 70 national masters titles in race-walking
  • Lois Huggins, one of the country’s most prominent tennis officials
  • Bob Behr, coach of Tower Hill track and cross country for 19 years who helped create competitive women’s track in Delaware.

Tickets for the event are available for $65 from Lorrie Alesi, who can be reached at (302) 547-6570, or online at www.desports.org.