Doors again swinging wide for Maryland's own

April 09, 2000|By John Steadman

It's integral to the rich, proud legacy of Maryland sports including the names of Babe Ruth, Bob Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Joe Gans, Al Kaline and of 175 other athletes, all native born. They must have that exclusivity. The annual election for the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame, with well-defined rules, has been going on for 44 years.

As for prerequisites, the nominees, male and female, either have had to be born in Maryland or have immigrated from another country. The emphasis is on excellence as an athlete, which is why almost every conceivable sport is included, such as bowling, jousting, Olympic rifle shooting, speedboat racing.

It's a free nomination. Anyone can suggest a name to be considered, along with a resume of achievements. Again, being born in Maryland is essential to a candidacy, a requirement that has eliminated such professional standouts as John Unitas, Brooks Robinson, Lenny Moore, Wes Unseld and Gino Marchetti. They have their own respective home-state halls of fame and, in most instances, are so included.

This year's induction at Martin's West banquet hall on May 11 will spotlight:

Lloyd Bunting, who played on four straight undefeated and national-championship Johns Hopkins University lacrosse teams; also a standout end in football.

Walter Greiner, a brilliant golfer of the 1930s and '40s. He played at times on the pro tour as an amateur and distinguished himself at the national level. In 1935, only 19, he was a semifinalist in the National Public Links Championship in Bethpage, N.Y.

Randy McMillan, No. 1 draft choice of the Colts in 1981 after standout performances at Harford Community College and the University of Pittsburgh. He accrued numerous All-America citations. His pro career was cut short because of a serious injury in an automobile accident.

Kelly Ward, who in 1979 won an NCAA wrestling championship at Iowa State after being runner-up in 1977-'78. A three-time All-American, he is the son of former Maryland football All-American Bob Ward. His overall record in college was 126-10-2, and he was 20-0 in international competition.

Lifetime achievement awards, considering their management accomplishments, will go to two Baltimore men, similar in backgrounds and achievements, namely Frank Cashen, retired executive vice president of the Orioles and later New York Mets, and George Young, who five times was voted NFL Executive of the Year while general manager of the New York Giants. Young is now vice president of football operations for the NFL.

Cashen and Young are products of the Baltimore parochial school system. In this category, it was so difficult to select an honoree between them that a committee member, Bernie Walter, said, "We should pick them both," and it was agreed to unanimously.

As for the committee doing the electing, it's headed by Jack Scarbath, president and a member of the Maryland Hall of Fame (also the College Football Hall of Fame) since 1977. An outstanding quarterback at Maryland, he finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1952. Others on the selection team were:

Leon Horowitz, Benny Alperstein, Ed Athey, Vince Bagli, Ed Brown, George "Bucky" Kimmet, Bill McCaffrey, Pat Pannella, Bob Scott, Augie Waibel, Roger Wrenn, Walter and Dennis Gring, executive director.

"We never seem to run out of competent possibilities," said Scarbath. "There must be another 50 on our list for future consideration. We like to have a five-year waiting period from the end of a career before consideration by our committee.

"I believe on only two occasions, with Pam Shriver and the late Reggie Lewis, have we deviated in holding to that timetable. All of us are dedicated to what the founding fathers of the idea, men such as Al Heagy, Paul Menton, Herb Armstrong and others, originated."

The group has been faced with only rare political pressure on behalf of an individual, constantly pursuing its own agenda in getting the best men and women chosen, without regard to outside influences.

In all, 29 sports are represented, headed by baseball with 37; football, 36; basketball, 14, and lacrosse, 13. And, as a point in passing, 32 multiple-sports inductees are listed, proving specialization isn't that important to acceptance.

The Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame, instituted in order to bring acclaim to the men and women involved in playing the games, has been a way to perpetuate the outstanding deeds of men and women, some even going back 100 years.

(Tickets for the banquet and installation on May 11 at 6: 30 p.m. at Martin's West, are $45 and may be ordered from Dennis Gring, 5 Roxburgh Ct., Baltimore, 21236. Phone: 410-931-0302.)

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