The 15 individuals and one event (Penn Relays) will be formally inducted on Nov. 11 at the Sheraton. Dan Baker, the man who does introductions as an art form, introduced them.
Moses Malone, the great Sixers center, is in his sport's Hall of Fame. Mark Howe, the wonderful Flyers defenseman, is going into his sport's Hall later this year. Legendary manager Joe McCarthy, who won seven World Series with the Yankees and is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, grew up in Germantown. NFL Films' Ed Sabol will be enshrined in Canton next month. Ed will be joined on the dais with his son Steve in November.
Dawn Staley, from Dobbins Tech, has to get into the Basketball Hall of Fame someday soon. Bill Bergey and Wilbert Montgomery were in the middle of everything for the 1980 NFC champion Eagles.
Al Meltzer, who came to town in 1964 to work for WFIL radio, called all those Big 5 games on Channel 17, was the sports director at Channel 3 and Channel 10 before finishing his career at Comcast SportsNet. He worked everywhere because he was that good.
Speedy Morris has won 883 games, first at Roman Catholic, then at Penn Charter, La Salle University and now St. Joseph's Prep. Nobody won more games at La Salle. And nobody has won more in the Catholic League.
They are joined in this class by Philadelphia A's infielder Jimmy Dykes; the great Negro Leagues catcher James "Biz" Mackey; a two-time Olympic gold-medal winner (1912 Stockholm Games), middle-distance runner Ted Meredith; lefthander Curt Simmons, an anchor, along with righthander Robin Roberts, for the 1950 Whiz Kids; and tennis and basketball champion Ora Washington, who competed in the 1920s and '30s when the top echelons of her sports had no opportunities for African-Americans.
Howe, along with his father Gordie, Bergey, Meltzer and Morris were all at the Sheraton. Daily News alum and Philly Hall member Ray Didinger spoke for the Sabols. Bill Zimpfer, from the Breakfast Club on WOGL-FM, spoke on behalf of Simmons, his uncle.
Gordie Howe looks as if he could still play. And you know he would like to. After all, the man did play professional hockey with his sons.
"I'm just proud somebody saw [Mark] through my eyes," he said of his son. "It was about his love for the game and love for the fans."
When he was asked his age, Gordie said, "Old enough."
He is visiting Mark, who lives in South Jersey.
"I enjoyed my time playing with my dad and brother [Marty] so much, and it meant everything to me," Mark said. "But when Dad retired, I had an opportunity to come here and state my case as an individual."
Mark stated it eloquently over 10 seasons with the Flyers.
"It was a perfect fit for me," he said. "You always heard how tough the fans are here. Well, no, I don't find them tough at all. If they know you're putting in the effort every day, the fans here will love you."
The Eagles fans loved Bergey, the quintessential middle linebacker.
"The older you get, awards like these mean so much more to you," Bergey said. "A lot of people thought I was a little screwed up in the head, because there wasn't one thing I didn't love about pro football."
That showed in the way he played. He had only one regret, that Super Bowl loss to Oakland.
There was nothing "Big Al" did not do in this city, but one assignment always stood out for him - calling those Big 5 games on Channel 17.
He just finished a book about his life in the business that will be out in the fall. He has stories to tell. And few can tell them better.
Speedy was not a good player. When he actually got into a game at Roman and had the ball driving to the basket, he was called for 3 seconds. At least, that is his story and he has been telling it well for years.
"To go in with guys I rooted for, cheered for, admired," Morris said. "It's a great class. I think every class has been extraordinary. It's an honor for a me, a kid from Manayunk."
Didinger, who worked at NFL Films and now works for Comcast SportsNet Philly, said, "NFL Films really is a Philadelphia creation, a Sabol creation."
Zimpfer remembered wearing those authentic Phillies jerseys in the summer, those wool deals. He said how much his uncle will enjoy being in a Hall with his goods friends, Roberts and Rich Ashburn.
Penn Relays director Dave Johnson explained how the event went from 5,000 at Franklin Field in 1895 to a record 1-day attendance of 54,310 in 2010. Jesse Owens ran there. So did Carl Lewis.
When this class is inducted, the Hall will have 121 individuals, five teams, one organization, one venue and one event. The individuals represent more than 240 various Hall of Fame inductions. The ninth class will be inducted in 2012. Even with all the great names already in, it is now clear organizers will have no trouble finding more names to add to a list that keeps getting longer and better. *