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Cheap Seats: Unitas And Mann Headline State Hall Of Fame Class

By Chris Garman

On Nov. 8, the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame will hold the 53rd-annual induction ceremony at Michael's 8th Avenue in Glen Burnie.

During previous years, only athletes born in Maryland were eligible, but rules have changed to allow induction for those who have lived in the state for at least 25 years.

"In the past, many families lived in Maryland, but the nearest hospitals were out of state, out of country, or in D.C.," the Hall's president, Bernie Walter, said. "In past selections, all those Marylanders were ineligible. For years, it was thought not to meet the mission of the Hall, so then the board of directors revised the bylaws."

Among the seven athletes to be inducted this year are former Baltimore Colts quarterback John Unitas. Unitas, who had not been eligible in years past because he was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., played 17 seasons in the NFL, leading the Colts to two world titles (1958 and '59), along with a Super Bowl V victory in 1971.

Forty years ago, the Title IX law was passed, giving equality to women athletes in college. This year, the Hall will induct Carol Mann, who is a pioneer for women's athletics. Mann won 38 career LPGA tournaments and is in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Mann was also not eligible until the new induction guidelines were put into place.

Among the other inductees are NBA star Danny Ferry, thoroughbred-horse racing champion Mario Pino, light-welterweight boxing champion Sharmba Mitchell, and former All-American lacrosse goalies Michael Federico and Jim Kappler.

At the induction ceremony, the Hall of Fame will also honor Johnny Holliday, the voice of the University of Maryland's football and men's basketball teams and the co-host of "Nats Xtra" on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, with the John Steadman Lifetime Achievement Award.

"As voice of the Terrapins, he has graciously donated his time to a multitude of events both on campus and in the community," Walter said.

Every year, a committee meets to make the annual selections. But the board of directors is working on a new process to get Maryland's citizens more involved, Walter said.

"We are in the process of creating a Web site to promote the brand and allow for the general public to nominate deserving people," Walter said. "We hope to have that in place by New Year's."

Those inducted will have their names permanently added to the display on the Eutaw Street wall outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

"It a significant step in recognizing the best athletes in Maryland state history," Walter said. "When you lose sight of the past, you lose sight of the future."

More Cheap Seats:
Kyle Kauffman Will Get To Fulfill Soccer Dream
Unitas And Mann Headline State Hall Of Fame Class
Jennings Goes Ironman For Brigance Brigade
Veteran Goalie Thornton Returns To Alma Mater
Blast Pitch In To Help School Shooting Victim
Stevenson Will Play Host For Jumbo D-III Tourney

Issue 178: October 2012