Another Brooks is bound for Hall

September 14, 1995|By BILL TANTON

You want to talk about athletes? Let's talk about Lyn Brooks.

Brooks, who will enter the State of Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame at a Martin's West luncheon tomorrow, may be the best athlete ever admitted to that august body.

Hey, there's no question that many of our state's Hall of Famers are better known.

When you're talking Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Al Kaline, Pam Shriver and the late Celtics' star Reggie Lewis, you're talking big names. All are native Marylanders and are in our Hall of Fame.

But Lyn Brooks can do things none of the above could do.

Could Babe Ruth have swum 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and run the marathon 26 miles -- all as part of one event?

Let's get serious. The Babe couldn't circle the bases without huffing and puffing.

Could Foxx, Grove or the rest of that distinguished crowd have done it? Could Shriver, who's in great shape and still competing?

Nah.

Heck, Deion Sanders couldn't do what Lyn Brooks does.

Not only has Brooks done this most demanding event, called the Ironman, she's still doing it -- and she's 47 years old.

"I'll be leaving for Hawaii in two weeks to take part in my 16th Ironman," Lyn was saying yesterday as she relaxed (a rare thing for her) at her home near the Goucher College campus. "I have 15 T-shirts that say 'Ironman Finisher.' I'm very proud of that."

Brooks holds the world record for most finishes among women.

Triathlons have given Brooks more than a hobby. She earns her living as an event producer and consultant. She also is involved in the sport's Olympic process.

Even the other ex-athletes at tomorrow's enshrinement -- soccer's Jim Belt and football's Jim Gaffney -- will be impressed by Brooks' fitness. She's 5 feet 7, 120 pounds and looks 10 years younger than she is.

The other honoree on tomorrow's program is the late Charley Ernst, who was a high school, semipro and pro soccer star here in the '30s.

If you've never heard of Lyn Brooks, there are reasons for that.

One is that her event -- triathlon -- was only invented 17 years ago. Another is that most of her accomplishments have taken place in remote places such as Nice, France, and Hawaii, where she won the three-day Ultraman Triathlon and captured two third-place finishes in the Ironman.

"That's what really pleases me about getting in the Maryland Hall of Fame," Lyn says. "Most of the accolades I've won have been national and international, not back home. This'll be a chance to be recognized by my friends and family."

Never in the 40-year history of the Maryland Hall of Fame has a group of inductees received the recognition this one will. Before tomorrow night's Orioles-Yankees game they'll be introduced to the Camden Yards crowd of 40,000-plus and be presented their certificates by incoming Hall of Fame president Jack Scarbath.

Brooks is now, as she puts it, "in high training" for the Ironman. She'll run four days this week, covering some 30 miles. She'll swim four days at Goucher. Sunday she'll bicycle 85 miles.

When you consider Brooks' pedigree, it was natural that she would become an athlete. Her mother, Margaret -- at age 76 -- still swims in Senior Olympics and plays golf, though no more tennis. Her father, Rodney, was a squash and tennis champion here in the '50s.

Lyn began, as most triathletes do, with running.

"That," she says, "was in the early '70s. Nobody ran in the public streets in those days. I used to run seven miles in my parents' driveway."

Sixteen years ago, another local runner, Joe Lacy Jr., said to Lyn: "Let's go to Hawaii and do the Ironman." He had done it the year before. Lyn went that year and hasn't missed since.

The rest of the Hall of Fame class of '95 also represents considerable athletic achievement.

Jim Belt was a four-time All-America soccer player at Maryland. He was a member of the school's national championship team in 1947. In 1951 he was named the university's Athlete of the Year.

Jim Gaffney, from Cumberland, was an All-Southeastern Conference football player for Gen. Bob Neyland at Tennessee in the '40s. Gaffney caught a TD pass in the Sugar Bowl in '43. He joined the Washington Redskins in '45 and played in the NFL championship game that year.

Charley Ernst led Calvert Hall to four Maryland Scholastic Association championships in the '30s. Playing for the Baltimore Soccer Club, he led the American Soccer League in scoring in 1937 and 1938.

The public is invited to attend tomorrow's luncheon. Tickets are available at the door or by calling Dennis Gring at 333-6313.

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