Foreman, 80, gaining fame here

Indoor game co-founder 1 of 3 entering Blast's Hall

Pro Soccer

February 18, 2005|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

Earl Foreman, who drafted Julius Erving into pro basketball and in 1964 was part-owner of the NBA's Baltimore Bullets, will enter the Hall of Fame tomorrow - the Baltimore Blast Hall of Fame - as one of indoor soccer's originators.

Asked why Foreman is being inducted, Blast owner Ed Hale, who created the team's Hall of Fame last year, explained.

"Earl has never been recognized for what he has done for Baltimore," Hale said. "By inventing the game of indoor soccer, he has given a lot of enjoyment to a lot of fans in this city."

Foreman, who will be 80 next month, is a Baltimore native who grew up on Montford Avenue, about a half block from Patterson Park. He will be inducted tomorrow night with Tim Wittman, Blast coach and former defender, and former defender Bruce Savage.

"It is a special surprise to learn of this," said Foreman, who drafted Erving as owner of the old American Basketball Association's Virginia Squires. "I was connected with the MISL [Major Indoor Soccer League] for a long time, over a number of years. I sort of feel like I helped deliver the baby.

"And, of course, anybody who grew up in Baltimore is always a Baltimorean. You scratch them and you find it, and if you just listen, you can hear one, too."

Wittman began his career with the Blast after graduating from Calvert Hall. He is the only member of the Blast organization to be part of all three of the team's MISL championships - as a player on the 1983-84 team, an assistant coach with the 2002-03 team and head coach last season.

He played nine seasons with the original Blast and three with the Baltimore Spirit. Wittman, who has played every on-field position, is the original Blast's second all-time scoring leader with 304 points in 365 games.

Savage was a defender for the Blast from 1984 through 1991. He marked opposing teams' top offensive players and scored 127 points of his own - good for 13th on the all-time original team's scoring list.

An all-star for seven consecutive seasons, Savage was the MISL's Defender of the Year in 1986-87, as well as the team's Most Valuable Player.

Foreman, a Washington attorney, joined with a friend, Ed Tepper, to create the MISL in 1977. The league played its first season in 1978-79 with six franchises. Foreman was the league's first commissioner, from 1978 to 1985 and returning in 1989. In his second term, Foreman was credited with a television package on ESPN, a three-year expansion plan and a new collective bargaining agreement.

"I always knew Foreman favored the Blast," said former San Diego Sockers coach Ron Newman, who has never missed a chance to take humorous shots at the Blast. "I just never knew he was on the payroll.

"But, seriously, I'm glad Earl is going somewhere. He deserves to be somewhere, and it doesn't look like the United States Soccer Hall is going to take him or few others from the indoor game."

Former Blast coach Kenny Cooper was inducted into the Blast Hall of Fame last year with players Stan Stamenkovic and Mike Stankovic. Cooper said this week from England, where he is representing his son Kenny Jr., who is under contract with Manchester United, that being inducted last year was one of the most fulfilling nights of his life.

He also said Foreman was a fitting inductee for a Baltimore sports hall of fame because of his personal and professional background in the city and promotional efforts he has made for the team and the sport.

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