On Thursday evening, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame inducted the Class of 2011. The Hall of Fame’s 8th class includes: Bill Bergey, Biz Mackey, Curt Simmons, Dawn Staley, Ed and Steve Sabol, Jimmy Dykes, Joe McCarthy, Moses Malone, Mark Howe, Ora Washington, Ted Meredith, Wilbert Montgomery, Speedy Morris, Al Meltzer and the Penn Relays (Special Enshrinement). These chosen athletes have had exceptional careers in their particular sport, either with a Philadelphia team or having grown up in the Philadelphia area and gone on to an outstand sports career elsewhere.
For the Phillies, the highlight of the evening was seeing Curt Simmons be inducted. Simmons was a left-handed pitcher for the Phillies from 1947-1960 during a 20-year career. He and Robin Roberts were the aces of the 1950 “Whiz Kids” National League championship team. Simmons, 82, is the youngest surviving player of that team.
A former Eagles favorite and 3-time team MVP, Bill Bergey was also an inductee this year. He received an impromptu introduction from his former coach, Dick Vermeil, who was actually in attendance to accept Wilbert Montgomery’s award. As usual, Vermeil got emotional and struggled through sobs to express his feelings about Bergey. The two men shared a hug afterwards and Bergey went on to dazzle the crowd with his enthusiasm and humor.
After the ceremony, I spoke with Vermeil about his speech. He told me, “I just get so emotional over these guys I coached. I can’t help myself.” It is refreshing to see a former coach who honestly cares about his players and clearly still holds Philadelphia close to his heart. Vermeil maintains his permanent residence in Chester County and is a regular attendee at these events.
One of the best moments of the evening was watching Mark Howe accept this honor in front of his father, Gordie Howe, who is regarded as the best hockey player in history. Both men are now members of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto; Mark is part of their 2011 class. Mark Howe played for the Flyers from 1982-1992 during which he was a finalist for the Norris Trophy 3 times.
Father and son spent most of the night signing autographs and posing for photos. But during all the flash bulbs popping, Gordie Howe paused for a moment to hand me some flowers that he accidentally pilfered from a table arrangement. And that was my personal highlight of the evening. Flowers from Mr. Hockey…wow.
The evening featured many other great moments, including a video presentation by Bill Cosby on behalf of the Penn Relays. Representative for the Penn Relays were excited about the honor and posed together for a photo after receiving their award.
There were a few notable absences from the event. Ed and Steve Sabol were unable to attend so Greg Cosell, an NFL Films producer for 31 years, accepted on their behalf. Moses Malone, former 76ers great, NBA Hall of Famer and 3-time MVP, was also absent.
In addition to the inductees, there were many sportswriters, former players, coaches and other friends of Philadelphia sports there to support the newest members of the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. You can see some of those people plus the inductees here in my Photo Album from the event and order prints, if you wish.
In all, the 2011 induction was a great success. Congratulations to all of the inductees!
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
On Thursday evening, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame inducted the Class of 2010 which included Dick Allen, Hobey Baker, Elizabeth Becker, Tom Brookshier, Ron Hextall, William Hyndman III, Bobby Jones, Leroy Kelly, Lighthouse Boys Club, Tug McGraw, Jim Phelan, Mike Quick, Bobby Shantz, Phil Jasner, Marianne Stanley and Jersey Joe Walcott. These chosen athletes have had exceptional careers in their particular sport, either with a Philadelphia team or having grown up in the Philadelphia area and gone on to an outstand sports career elsewhere.
Also honored were the annual Pride of Philadelphia award winners. The award is given in recognition of accomplishment by those who made Philadelphia sports fans proud of their town and its rich sports heritage in 2010. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz was one recipient. The other winners were the Villanova National Champion Football Team and Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich.
Chooch was unable to attend as he is in Panama visiting family. Larry Shenk, the Phillies Vice President of Alumni Relations, accepted the award on Ruiz’s behalf. A fan favorite and clutch performer, Ruiz is well deserving of the honor.
It was an amazing evening filled with Philadelphia legends, their families and friends and a group of very enthusiastic fans who came to witness the event. The Phillies were well represented not only by Mr. Shenk, but president Dave Montgomery and PA Announcer Dan Baker attended as well, along with the inductees and their representatives.
Tug McGraw’s son, actor Mark McGraw, attended the ceremony on his father’s behalf along with his wife and daughter, Tug’s granddaughter. While accepting the award, Mark spoke of his father’s love of the game, his sense of humor and especially his love of the Philadelphia fans. Teary-eyed, Mark told the group that one of the only times he ever saw his father cry was when he had “disappointed the fans.” As to his sense of humor, Mark said that Tug would tease Larry Christenson by asking him if he was going to pitch that day. When Christenson responded “Yes,” Tug came back with, “So am I!”
Another highlight of the evening was seeing Dick Allen receive his award. Allen was the first African American to play a full season for the Phillies. From 1963 to 1969 and again from 1975 to 1976, Allen played hard for the Phillies while enduring racial harassment and even protests by angry fans. But if you ever have the chance to meet Allen, you will find that not only is he not bitter, he is one of the most engaging and pleasant people around.
In fact, Allen simply lights up the room and draws people to him like a magnet. He is warm, kind and very, very funny. No one could be more deserving of such an award, both for his performance as a player and his class as a human being. Allen said it was a “tremendous honor” to receive this award. It was also a tremendous honor for everyone in attendance just to see Allen, along with his wife, son and grandson, enjoy getting the respect and admiration that he deserves.
Other notable inductees included former Flyers goaltender, Ron Hextall; Eagles wide receiver Mike Quick; 76ers forward Bobby Jones; and Phil Jasner, who has been writing for the Philadelphia Daily News for 38 years:
I also got to meet the wife of former Eagle Tom Brookshire, who very sadly passed away earlier this year. There was another former Eagle in attendance as well; current NJ congressman, Jon Runyan who made me look like a midget:
I have put together a Photo Album from the event and separated the photos in three categories. The first one is the dinner reception and candid photos which is followed by photos from the induction ceremony. And the third folder includes photos of the Hall of Fame museum display, auction items and just some random photos around the hotel. The photos are all available for ordering if you missed the event or if you attended and see some you would like as keepsakes.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Earlier today, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2010. This 7th class for the Hall will be officially inducted during a ceremony which will take place on Thursday, November 11. 2010. These chosen athletes have had exceptional careers in their particular sport, either with a Philadelphia team or having grown up in the Philadelphia area and gone on to an outstand sports career elsewhere.
Here are the inductees:
Several inductees were present at the press conference and spoke with the media. Closer Tug McGraw played 10 years with the Phillies and is best known for recording the final out of the 1980 World Series.
Sadly, McGraw passed away in 2004 from a brain tumor. His son, Mark McGraw, who currently works as an actor, was there to speak on his behalf.
Mark McGraw said, “Well I think you all know how much my Dad loved the city of Philadelphia and especially the fans. And to be honored into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame is an honor for our family, it’s an honor for our Tug McGraw Foundation and Team McGraw which continues on Tug’s legacy and (pause), excuse me, it’s a bit emotional for me, and a very proud moment for Tug if he was here. And we’re very excited to be honored and representing our father and Tug McGraw into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame and we thank them very much.”
Former Philadelphia Eagles receiver, Mike Quick, also spoke at the press conference. Quick played 9 seasons for the Eagles and still lives in the area. He noted that he has been in Philadelphia for 30 years now, which is longer than his time in North Carolina where he grew up. “To me now, this (Philadelphia) is really home,” Quick said, “My kids grew up here, I became a man here and I am very pleased that the Hall of Fame had decided to invite me as one of the inductees.”
Phil Jasner is a writer for the Philadelphia Daily News and currently covers the 76ers. He is to be awarded the “Legacy of Excellence” award and induction into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame for an outstanding career as a sports journalist. Jasner also grew up in the area and graduated from Temple University. Always entertaining, Jasner did not disappoint today saying, “I asked Marcia, my life partner, if she’d still love me when I’m old and miserable. And she said, ‘Of course I do.'”
But the real highlight of the day for me personally was having the opportunity to speak with former Phillie, Dick Allen. Allen played for the Phillies from 1963-1969 and 1975-1976. He earned the NL “Rookie of the Year” award in 1964 and was a 3-time All-Star with the Phillies. His early career in Philadelphia was marred by several personal incidents.
Allen played during a time when racism was still prominent in America and certainly, in baseball. Allen was subjected to racial slurs and taunting by both fans and fellow players. In 1965, he got into a fight with a white teammate, Frank Thomas. Thomas hit Allen in the shoulder with a bat and was released the next day. Fans blamed Allen for the dismissal of Thomas and his problems were only exasperated by his own temper and demeanor, which were often seen as negative.
However, when I spoke with Allen today after the press conference, I saw a kind, gentle human being with a great sense of humor. Allen asked if I was going to take his picture and I told him I would.
He then pinched me on the arm, winked and told me, “You are such a pretty girl, I should be taking your picture.” Ok, so I’ll take flattery wherever I can get it. But that aside, Allen stayed to speak with reporters for an extended time after the press conference and was gracious and forthcoming with everyone he spoke to.
When asked about his difficulties back in the 60’s, Allen said, “Mother sat me down and had a long talk with me,” and went on to say his mother also taught him about the importance of forgiveness. Another question arose about the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Many think Allen should be in the Hall, but may have been snubbed because of his earlier temperament. Allen’s numbers certainly warrant a bid to the Hall. Allen’s career stats include a batting average of .292, a slugging % of .534, and his on-base % was 378.
When asked about a possible bid for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Allen said, “I don’t even know how that works. Maybe politics or something like that. I don’t know. I think everything speaks for itself. Possibly had I been a little kinder to some of the writers or maybe the right persons along the way, I don’t know.” But ultimately, he said has always been at peace with everything. Allen stated, “I played it all and gave it my heart so I am particularly enjoying this,” referring to his Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame induction.
I particularly enjoyed meeting and speaking with Mr. Allen. I would like to thank him for taking the time to talk to me. I would also like to thank all the other attendees and especially the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame for inviting me to the press conference. Congratulations to all the inductees!
For more information on the PSHOF, visit www.phillyhall.org.
Here is the full Photo Album from the press conference.
Photosby Jenn Zambri Photography
This past Tuesday, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame hosted their 4th annual Golf Classic at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club. The Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Philly sports history which inducts new members annually.
The golf event was attended by many Philadelphia stars, including former Phillies, Flyers, 76ers and Eagles, along with broadcasters and other special guests. I was asked to be the photographer for the event, which was in honor of the memory of Harry Kalas. This is a tribute table with a few of Harry’s belongings and memorabilia:
The day included a putting contest, lunch, shotgun golf round, live and silent auctions, a million dollar hole-in one contest and the “High Hopes” reception and dinner. Much of the time was spent by chatting with VIP guests as well as enjoying the golf course. By the way, former Phillie Darren Daulton promised me the Phillies would be snapping out of their current funk very soon. I am holding him to that.
From top to bottom, left to right, here is Darren along with Greg Luzinski, Terry Harmon, Andy Ashby, Tyler Green, Mike Mamula (former Eagle), someone I do not know and Dickie Noles. If you know who the mystery guest is, feel free to let me know ;o)
Other sports were represented as well. This next photo collage includes former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil, former Eagles player Chuck Bednarik who was showing me his bent finger, former Eagles Eddie Khayat and Vince Papale and former Flyer, Bernie Parent, possibly the most entertaining man on the planet. If you have never met Bernie, you are missing out on a real treat. The man is a ball of energy and funnier than most professional comedians:
I have tons of other photos which show many other big stars from the day and all of the events that went on. Feel free to check that out. Thanks to the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame for inviting me! It was a memorable day.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography