Wanted: more great ones for county Sports Hall of Fame Public has a chance to nominate favorites


While it will be difficult to top last year's inaugural for entertainment, the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame Inc. won't have any trouble coming up with a quality group of inductees for this fall's second annual banquet.

Criteria have been drawn up, and the public now has the opportunity to nominate a deserving candidate for induction into the county Hall of Fame on Oct. 22.

Nomination ballots soon will be available from four locations: the Anne Arundel County Sun (647-2499, the 24-hour Sportsline); Annapolis Capital (268-5000); Maryland Gazette (766-3700) and Michael's Eighth Avenue (768-7901).

Before I tell you all about the guidelines for the nominations that must be in by Sept. 1, let's recap last year's first induction ceremony and how it got started.

The first such gala featured the induction of five outstanding individuals in Charlie Eckman, Lloyd "Butch" Keaser, Gordon "Babe" Phelps, Betty Hallmark and C. Mason "Daffy" Russell. The first five inductees were selected by a Hall of Fame special committee and approved by the overall membership.

The initial induction ceremony was rather hastily put together to pay off a debt, but turned out to be a rousing success on Oct. 24. After just a few meetings, the kickoff gala was ready to go within a month, and, oh, did it fly.

State Sen. Mike J. Wagner and U.S. Rep. Tom McMillen lent about $10,000 to Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Association president Lew Holmes to pay off expenses incurred by the Continental Amateur Baseball Association 18 and Under World Series.

More than 400 people, some of whom paid $100 a ticket, showed up at Michael's Eighth Avenue for the first induction ceremony, and everyone went home more than satisfied. Simply put, the first banquet was a big hit.

After the emotional and entertaining inductions and acceptance speeches of Keaser, Phelps, Hallmark and Russell, the colorful Eckman capped the evening with a hilarious send-off. The former Baltimore sports broadcaster, National Basketball Association coach and referee has no peers when it comes to captivating an audience with his off-the-cuff remarks and storytelling.

Eckman's bit was the perfect ending to a marvelous evening that included a moving talk by Keaser, the former Brooklyn Park and U.S. Naval Academy wrestler who was a silver medalist in the 1976 Winter Olympics in Montreal.

Keaser and Phelps, a lifelong resident of Odenton who caught 11 seasons in the major leagues with the Washington Senators, Chicago Cubs, Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates, were inducted together into the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame in 1985. The two of them said the Anne Arundel County honor meant just as much.

Hallmark was inducted for her lifelong coaching, officiating and promoting of women's athletics in Anne Arundel County.

It was Hallmark's fourth Hall of Fame induction -- the others are National Red Cross (1979), Western Maryland College (1987) and Anne Arundel Community College (1991) -- but it was obvious by her reaction at the podium that this one was special because it was home.

Called the "Father of Anne Arundel County lacrosse," Russell was inducted for his 60 years of contributions as a player, coach and athletic director, mainly at St. Mary's High in Annapolis.

With so many outstanding individuals who have contributed to Anne Arundel sports, it should not be difficult to come up with another outstanding slate of inductees. At least two and no more than five will be inducted each year, so let me tell you what you have to do to nominate someone.

First, you must get a ballot and support the nomination with all the pertinent information, including news clippings and recommendation letters, on your candidate. Individuals who have died are eligible for posthumous induction.

Four main prerequisites will qualify a candidate:

(a) Must have served as a head coach, player, official, volunteer, administrator, media personality or any combination.

(b) Must have been a county resident for at least 10 years or have maintained a strong affiliation with the county while achieving prominence.

(c) Must have significantly contributed to the advancement and betterment of sports in Anne Arundel County.

(d) Must be representative of high moral character and ethical standards; excellence recognized beyond the local level; leadership.

Those four steps make up the essence of what it takes to be a quality candidate, and the Selection Committee and the overall Hall of Fame body that ultimately will approve the 1992 nominees will steadfastly stick to the criteria.

The Selection Committee includes Chairman Bernie Walter of Arundel High School, Del. Michael Busch of the county Department of Recreation and Parks, North County High veteran coach Sally Entsminger, Capital/Gazette sportswriter Bill Wagner and yours truly.

It carefully will examine the applications and propose a short list of candidates to the Hall of Fame Executive Committee.

The short list then must be approved by the Executive Committee and the overall membership.

Anyone nominated but not selected will remain in a pool and be automatically considered for two consecutive additional years. If not chosen by the third year, the candidate will not be considered unless renominated by someone.

There might be too many Hall of Fames out there, but this one ranks as the most prestigious in Anne Arundel County and certainly was needed to recognize those who have given so much to county athletics.

That's why it is imperative for the committee and group to select only the most renowned achievers and contributors each year and keep it a very exclusive club. We want people to say if you qualify for the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame, you have really qualified for something.

There is no question that this county has had more than its share of Hall of Fame types, both male and female, and now you have the chance to tell us who you think they are. Your response is vital.

A tradition of excellence commenced last Oct. 24 with the inductions of Eckman, Keaser, Phelps, Hallmark and Russell. Now it's necessary to again commemorate the history of Anne Arundel County sports through its most distinguished individuals.

Thomas Carlyle, a 19th-century essayist, unknowingly provided the inspiration for a Hall of Fame when he said, "History is the biography of great men [or women]."

You need only tell us who the great ones are.

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