|Title:||Class of 2000|
Joe Alekshun, it is a privilege to induct someone of your athletic ability and star quality into the WPI Athletic Hall of Fame. A Worcester native and a Commerce High graduate, you excelled in football and baseball at WPI. While you never played a "glamour position" (tackle in football, catcher in baseball), you performed more than admirably, elevating your teammates to greater heights of accomplishments. And you lettered in both sports all four years.
You may be best remembered as a key cog in Coach Bob Pritchard's 6-0 football machine of 1954, your junior year. If there was one shining moment for a tackle that season, it was when you made the block that unleashed Paul Kerrigan's 46-yard punt return for a touchdown against Coach Guard, the game's only score, that touchdown was considered one of the most important plays of the entire undefeated season.
In the same game, you were also credited with a pass breakup while on a defensive charge. The game films revealed that if the pass had been completed, it would likely have resulted in a Coast Guard touchdown. You went on to co-captain the 1955 football team, which finished 5-2.
"Joe Alekshun is one of the finest tackles I've ever had," said Prichard of his senior tackle in the fall of 1955. "He's terrific both ways. He clears big holes for our backs on offense and then is all over the field making tackles on defense. He does a steady job every game."
At WPI you will also be remembered as a steady catcher who often wielded a hot bat. In your four years at WPI, your baseball teams combined to win 31 games and lose only 11. That run included a 10-2 record in 1955-the best up to that point. Few will forget the day you nearly single-handedly led WPI to an 8-3 victory over AIC in Springfield. Your two-run, seventh-inning triple was followed by an eighth inning grand slam: a 6-RBI performance.
Away from the field you were a member of Phi Kappa Theta and the Varsity Club. After you received your degree in electrical engineering you continued your baseball career when you joined the Augusta Millionaires in the Downeast League in Maine, the moved on to the Cleveland Indians' North Platte organization in the Nebraska State Rookie League, where your teammate included future major-leaguers Jim Perry (Indians, Twins) and Bobby Allen (Rangers).
You went on to academia to earn an engineer's degree in civil engineering and a master of science in aeronautics and astronautics at MIT and a juris doctor at Boston College Law School, and completed additional studies at UCLA. Today you live in Redondo Beach, Calif., and work as a space systems engineer. You have focused on space technology and are currently preparing material for the next printing of a book on orbital mechanics (astrodynamics).
Joe Alekshun, for your uncanny ability to block, tack, catch, and knock the cover off the ball, it is our great privilege to induct you into the WPI Athletic Hall of Fame.