Organizers of the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame are looking for ways to rejuvenate a proud institution that has been around since 1956.
They're hoping this helps: one of the Hall's most star-studded classes will be inducted at an upcoming ceremony Nov. 10 at Michael's 8th Avenue in Glen Burnie.
This year's inductees include former NBA All-Star Sam Cassell (Dunbar High, Florida State), former NFL punter Sean Landetta (Loch Raven, Towson University), PGA golfer Fred Funk (University of Maryland) and former world heavyweight boxing champion Hasim Rahman.
Rounding out the induction class are former major league pitcher Geoff Zahn, three-time All-American and Olympics women's basketball star Tara Heiss (University of Maryland) and Motorcross star and X-Games gold medalist Travis Pastrana.
Bernie Walter, chairman of the State Athletic Hall of Fame, calls the seven inductees "the most celebrated and accomplished class the state of Maryland has ever recognized."
"If it's not," he added, "you'd have to go back to the first class ever."
That 1956 class included National Baseball Hall of Famers Frank "Home Run" Baker and Jimmie Foxx as well as track star Robert Garrett.
Oh, and there was another inductee in that class that made a bit of a name for himself: Babe Ruth.
This year's induction ceremony will be the organization's 52nd. Anyone born in Maryland who participated as an athlete at the state, national, international or professional level is eligible for election.
"We think it's a really good idea to recognize our native sons and daughters," Walter said. "We think they're important to our culture and our community."
But Walter points out that the Hall has not held an induction ceremony since 2007, when that year's class included former major leaguers Steve Farr (DeMatha) and Denny Neagle (Arundel), NFL alumni Tony Greene (Maryland), Vaughn Hebron (Cardinal Gibbons), Greg Schaum (Poly) and Antonio Freeman (Poly), as well as pro soccer standout Joe Speca (Patterson, Mount St. Joseph).
Before that, said Walter, former Maryland All-American and pro football quarterback Jack Scarbath was basically a one-man show who organized the dinner each year.
"Jack was doing everything ... it just got to be a massive job," Walter said. "When he stopped doing it after the 2007 dinner, people kept waiting for someone else to step up and take over."
Scarbath, runner-up for the 1952 Heisman Trophy and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, eventually met with Walter, former Baltimore broadcasting great Vince Bagli and Bucky Kimmett, who played four years at what was then Towson State and is in the school's Hall of Fame.
The four decided to try to revive the Hall induction ceremonies and persuaded Walter to take over as chair.
"We want to make it a more statewide honor, and not just a Baltimore honor," said Walter, director of baseball operations at the University of Maryland. "Our plan is to have a dinner next year for sure. Because we missed four years, we think we missed some really good people" as potential inductees.
Tickets for the Nov. 10 ceremony, which includes dinner, an open bar and a silent auction of sports memorabilia, are $50.
For more information, call 410-859-0151.
If you go
What: Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame
When: Nov. 10
Where: Michael's 8th Avenue in Glen Burnie
More information: 410-859-0151Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun