When the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame arrived on the sports scene 60 years ago, it didn’t tiptoe into existence. It jumped in with both feet. The first class of inductees included baseball legends Babe Ruth, Frank “Home Run” Baker, Jimmie Foxx, and Olympic champion Robert Garrett.
Today, as it was in 1956, the MDSAHOF honors the legendary athletes of our state for their widely recognized achievements. Glancing through the 200-person-plus MDSAHOF archive is a trip down memory lane. Gene Shue, Lefty Grove, Chuck Foreman, Cal Ripken Jr., Pam Shriver.
Those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes form an elite group as well. Charley Ellinger, Chester O’Sullivan, Jack Scarbath, John Steadman, Vince Bagli—right on up to legendary high school baseball coach Bernie Walter, who has chaired the MDSAHOF since 2011.
“Our state offers a multi-faceted sports program that includes but is not limited to true amateurs, collegians, and professionals,” says Walter, who points out MDSAHOF inductees range from major sports down to niche sports such as skeet shooting, bowling, and badminton.
In 2012, Walter’s MDSAHOF board revised the rules that had only allowed people born in Maryland to be inducted. Now “adopted Marylanders,” like Johnny Unitas and Brooks Robinson, who not only starred as Maryland athletes, but became a part of the community after retirement, could be elected.
At Walter’s urging, more women were named to the board and a wider selection process saw X Games standout Travis Pastrana inducted in 2011 for action sports and the first four-legged inductee Native Dancer in 2014.
What sets Maryland’s athletes apart?
"For such a small state, the quality and quantity of athletic achievement is incredible,” says Walter. “This was reflected in these past Summer Olympics. If Maryland were a country, it would have ranked second on the gold-medal list."
Walter and what he calls the “incredible group of doers” who comprise his MDSAHOF board are thrilled to celebrate the organization’s 60th birthday.
This year’s induction class, which will be honored Nov. 3 at Michael’s Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, includes the Hall’s first female soccer player and a cross-section of talent:
Orioles Hall of Famer, three-time American League All-Star.
Twenty years ago, Anderson hit 50 homers, which was the most by an Oriole until Chris Davis had 53 in 2013. His name still appears all over the Orioles career leader list. Now vice president of baseball operations for the team, Anderson was asked if he aspires to one day run the team. “If I do my job really well, it will help the current GM keep his job,” Anderson says. “If you’re focused on things like that, you would have to be thinking about the current GM not doing well. To me, that would be a very twisted thought.”
Ten-time winner of the American Power Boat Association National Championships.
Five-mile races in hydroplanes weren’t for the faint of heart. “We’d get to the turn and sometimes four or five of us were going at the same time, and you don’t slack up. You slack up, you lose,” recalls Baker, a native of the Eastern Shore. He went on to serve as a county commissioner and in the House of Delegates. He is president of the Kent Narrows Racing Association and chairs the Chesterwye Foundation, which helps adults with developmental disabilities.
Running back for the University of Maryland and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Carter led the Terps in rushing for three seasons in the 1970s, went to the NFL, and threw the first touchdown pass in Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ history. He has gained insight from late wife’s illness, battling cancer himself, and counts his blessings. He recalls life after the NFL playing flag football with his Maryland classmates. “It wasn’t the NFL, but it doesn’t give you brain damage, either.”
World-class sailor, television commentator, and author based in Annapolis.
A three-time All-American collegiate sailor, Jobson was part of Ted Turner’s crew (tactician) that won the America's Cup in 1977 aboard Courageous. He became a sailing analyst for the likes of ESPN and NBC and won two Emmys. Once a sport for the rich, sailing “has done a good job of opening the doors wide,” Jobson says. “Right here in Annapolis, there are eight high schools with sailing teams.”
Rewrote McDonogh record book in 1990s as four-sport star.
Parade magazine national soccer Player of the Year, Schwoy went on to North Carolina, winning three national soccer titles. Injuries kept her off U.S. national team as peers like Mia Hamm made history by winning the 1999 World Cup. “It was a bitter pill to swallow,” Schwoy admits. “It made me a much better human being because of that heartbreak.”
All-time lacrosse great at Hopkins.
On the last freshman team not allowed to play, Thomas made it to the national championship the next three years, finally winning as a senior. He was the only player in JHU history to average more than 70 points per season. At Towson High, he was a three-sport star under his dad, Bill Thomas Sr. Thomas taught in Howard County schools for 40 years and “learned it makes a tremendous impression on kids when you have a Wikipedia page.”
In addition, longtime sportswriter and Camden Yards official scorer Jim Henneman is being honored by the MDSAHOF as winner of the John F. Steadman Lifetime Achievement Award. A former batboy, usher, and more, Henneman confidently says, “I’m pretty sure I’ve seen more Orioles games than anybody alive.”