Hall of Fame needs to hear from the South

SIDELINES

September 04, 1992|By Pat O'Malley

Through no fault of its own, the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame Inc. can't seem to generate interest in South County. So what else is new?

It has amazed me all the years I've been in this business how South County, and I'm talking from Annapolis below, rarely responds or even acts as if it wants to be a part of anything that occurs in this county.

The annual Anne Arundel County Sun Academic-Athletic team honors the top student-athletes and is open to everyone in the county, but we get little or no response from the southern schools, Southern and South River.

Tryouts for the 13th annual Anne Arundel County Suns-Oriolelanders All-Star baseball game that showcases many of the county's top high school players were conducted last week.

Thirteen schools in the county play high school baseball, and only two were not represented at the tryouts.

You got it -- Southern and South River.

That was not surprising. It was typical, yet bewildering.

Take the Recreation and Parks Department youth programs, and those who have been involved for a while will tell you that it's a whole different game and approach down there.

And maybe, that's where it starts, although I will say it's a general feeling in hoop circles that Southern's legendary basketball coach, Tom Albright, who is certainly a future Hall of Fame candidate, would rather be in Prince George's County.

From reporters to fellow coaches, it's understood that Southern is different and almost an out-of-county school.

Albright used to like to tell me years ago that people down in the Harwood area don't get or read The Sun.

Of course, that's until something critical is written. Then, we hear from them even though they supposedly don't read the paper, and I have seen Sun boxes in front of homes in South County. Southern has not seceded from the county.

This whole isolation bit is too bad because the bottom line is that Southern is in Anne Arundel County. So, how do we get the south involved and make them part of the family?

That's a question we in the media ask and now the County Sports Hall of Fame is asking the same question.

The formation of the Hall of Fame is a great thing, but for it to grow and become truly representative of the entire county, South County has to get involved.

As it stands, the officers and board of directors representing the Hall of Fame are basically the North County Democratic Club, through no fault of its own.

State Sen. Michael Wagner took the initiative to help start the Hall of Fame last fall, and the first banquet that inducted five outstanding people was a rousing success.

The inductees were the incomparable Charlie Eckman of Glen Burnie, former Olympic silver medal wrestler and Brooklyn Park grad Lloyd Keaser, ex-major league catcher Gordon "Babe" Phelps of Odenton, tireless women's coach and teacher Betty Hallmark and legendary lacrosse coach Daffy Russell of Annapolis.

Now the second annual Hall of Fame banquet is set for Thursday, Oct. 22, at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie with Baltimore Orioles center fielder Mike Devereaux slated to be the guest speaker.

Who will be inducted that night?

The selection committee is working on that, and it won't be easy to narrow this year's list down to a maximum five enshrinees.

Many of the nominations are outstanding and deserving. Once again, the Hall of Fame will do itself proud when it announces this year's inductees.

The public has had the opportunity to nominate a deserving candidate for this year's prestigious induction ceremony with nomination forms available since the spring at Michael's (768-7901), the Capital (268-5000), the Maryland Gazette (766-3700) and the Anne Arundel County Sun (647-2499).

Response from the public has been good, not great, but there is still time to enter a candidate. The deadline for nominations has been extended until Wednesday.

There is one problem, and I'm sure you know what it is. There has been little, if any, response from South County in terms of nominations and offers to get people down there involved in the selection process.

Wagner is the first to dismiss the notion that the Hall of Fame was organized to promote the North County and his cronies. And many of his political cronies are on the current Hall of Fame board of directors, which has 23 members.

"I know we need to get people from South County who have something to contribute involved in our organization," said Wagner. "That's something we have to work on.

"I don't want people to get the misconception that we want to control the thing, because we don't. We want everyone involved."

But how do you do it?

Three men, who are well-known in South County, were approved to become members of the board of directors at the June 22

meeting, but none of them showed up at Monday's important meeting to discuss the banquet.

No one on the board heard from them.

For the Hall of Fame to grow and be truly representative of the entire county, there has to be input from South County.

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