Saturday, April 24, 2010

Place No. 81, Mississippi Sports Hall and Museum, and No. 81A Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame

I’m a pretty inclusive guy when it comes to halls of fame.

Bert Byleven would have been in the baseball Hall of Fame years ago I had a say. But not Tommy John, since he’s got Yankee taint.

But there’s a difference between including a lot of people and including, well, everybody.

Josh Pahigian takes us to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum for place No. 81 in his “101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out.”

I drove through Jackson on our way to Texas last October, but didn’t have time to stop at the museum, though Josh reports there is a nice display honoring Dizzy Dean.

But my recent adventures in Florida did offer an opportunity to explore another hall:

Place No. 81A: Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame was created in 1977, and apparently the criteria for induction are pretty loose. Simply retiring in the Palm Beach area is apparently enough to get one enshrined, and there are a lot of people who retire in South Florida.

And the hall inducts a lot of people every year, even people who contribute to the Hall.

It started modestly with former Tigers manager Mayo Smith, who died that year before, golfer Jack Nicklaus and sports editor Bob Balfe.

But then they started inducting up to nine folks a year. It’s nice that full contact karate is recognized somewhere. But even the online version of the hall lacks any detail about who these inductees were.

And the actual display is just a series of banners hanging in Roger Dean Stadium listing the names and the years of induction.

Scanning the massive list of inductees, I found three Mets properly celebrated. Two, however, didn’t exactly work their sporting magic in the Palm Beach area.

Bob Shaw had a nice enough career, posting 108 wins against 98 losses with .352 ERA over 11 seasons. A shoulder injury did him in.

He arrived at Shea mid-season in 1966, purchased from the Giants, and posted a 11-10 record. The next year was not as pretty, going 3-9 before being sold to the Cubs in July.

His claim to fame was besting Sandy Koufax in Game 5 of the 1959 World Series while hurling for the White Sox.

The Dodgers that year were still playing in the Los Angeles Coliseum, and that game brought a still-record 92,706 people into the stands.

Koufax was not yet the studly pitcher he would become, with an 8-6 record that season. But beating Sandy Koufax any time is something to be proud of, especially when it’s a 1-0 duel in what Dodger fans had hoped would be the clinching game.

That season ended up being Shaw’s best, going 18-6 with a 2.69 ERA and finishing third in the AL Cy Young Award voting.

His other achievement? That would be teaching Gaylord Perry to throw the spitter when both pitched for the Giants.

Like a number of New Yorkers I know, Shaw settled down in the Jupiter, Fla. area and developed commercial real estate.

Gary Carter’s address seems to be his justification for enshrinement as well, unless his duties with the Mets during spring training 40 miles north are taken into considering.

Carter, of course, was a no-brainer for Cooperstown and the Mets Hall of Fame. But he was very active in the Palm Beach area, holding a charity golf tournament in Jupiter at a course where my brother worked at the security gate.

He brilliantly decided that all the participants should sign their parking slip on the way out. There was no official reason for this, mind you, other than to collect autographs for his brother! Not that Pete Rose, Tom Glavine and the other golfers knew that.

And Jeff Reardon is a member of the Class of 1999.

Reardon spent three years with the Mets, amassing a 10-5 record and a 2.65 ERA and 10 saves. In one of the Mets more unfortunate trades, he was sent to the Expos with Dan Norman for Ellis Valentine.

The Expos, of course, made him the closer and became one of the best of the decade an a four-time All-Star. Valentine, well, did not.

Reardon actually played in West Palm Beach, where the Expos shared a spring training site with the Braves.

After several other stops, he sadly ended his career by playing with the Yankees, no doubt causing the problems that led to a 2005 arrest.

I was hoping for more Mets, and more information about the inductees. But I also didn't want to miss a minute of Jose Reyes, so I guess things worked out.

1 comment:

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