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as seen on phillyBurbs.com

Philly sports heroes
Help a poor hoagie- and pretzel-eater pick the first inductees for the city's sports hall of fame.

Who should be inducted into the Philly Sports Hall of Fame?

Paul Azrin
Richie Ashburn
Chuck Bednarik
Bert Bell
Bill Campbell
Steve Carlton
Wilt Chamberlain
Bobby Clarke
Billy Cunningham
Ray Didinger
Del Ennis
Julius Erving
Jimmie Foxx
Joe Frazier
Tom Gola
Eddie Gottlieb
Lefty Grove
Billy Hamilton
Sonny Hill
Harry Kalas
Jack Kelly Sr.
Chuck Klein
Connie Mack
Willie Mosconi
Bernie Parent
Robin Roberts
Pete Rose
Cathy Rush
By Saam
Mike Schmidt
Dawn Staley
Bill Tilden
Steve Van Buren
Glenna (Collett) Vare
Dave Zinkoff

Current Results

Even though I edit sports for this Web site, I don't consider myself a "sports guy."

I can't rattle statistics off the top of my head. I don't go to every game. Heck, I barely watch them on Comcast.

But I am a Philly sports fan, which basically means I like to hang around a watercooler and commiserate with other Philly sports fans about our collective, perennially disappointing major sports teams.

That explains why I was a bit bewildered when the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame Foundation sent me an e-mail last week and asked me to help pick its first 15 inductees.

Geez, it's easier for me to name the biggest Philly goats of my lifetime than it is to name real, honest-to-goodness heroes.

So, I need your help.

Take a few minutes and vote for your favorites from the list of 35 potential inductees in the completely unscientific poll on the right. The top 15 highest vote getters in descending order will be my choices (and yours.)

I caution you that this list isn't mine. If it had been, Dave Zincoff would have been replaced by Gene Hart, or even Kate Smith. And what the hell is Willie Mosconi doing among this 35? Why not Minnesota Fats?

Also missing from the list were some of my other favorites: Gary Maddox, Tug McGraw, Bobby Jones, Darryl Dawkins, Moses Malone, Dallas Green, Manny Trillo, World B. Free and John Chaney, just to name a few.

I tried to do this myself, folks, I really did. And I should have been able to do it.

Growing up in the '70s, I've watched the Phillies, Flyers, Sixers, Villanova and Phantoms all claim national titles. Even the short-lived USFL Philadelphia Stars went on to glory.

But not the Eagles.

Note, I did not say my Eagles. I gave up on them after the infamous fog bowl. (Hey, when God says your team is destined to lose you have to pay attention.)

Although I got back to following da Birds last year around this time because of this job, somehow I knew they weren't going to the Super Bowl. And sure enough, after struggling through an injury-marred season, they managed to choke away the NFC championship game and then cut some of their best players. 

So with that in mind, you can understand, why my first crack at a list may seem a little slanted (Remember, I won't be sending this one in):

1. Julius Erving - Before there was Michael Jordan, there was Dr. J. The guy revolutionized the sport. If only they'd bring back those great red, white and blue basketballs…

2. Wilt Chamberlain - I watched him play volleyball when he was in his '50s and he was still a powerhouse. Even if you don't believe his self-confessed bedpost notches, the guy is still world famous for scoring 100 points in a single game,

3. Chuck Bednarik - Never saw him play. (He was inducted into the hall of fame the year I was born.) Considered by many experts to be the greatest Eagle to ever play the game. I'm taking their word for it.

4. Joe Frazier - A world champion heavyweight, he still lives in the region and operates a gym on Broad Street Bullies. He's still smokin' in my book.

5. Mike Schmidt - Despite his mouth and the bad hoagies made in his name, Schmidty is still the best third baseman ever and one of the best to ever play the game. He was my child hero growing up. Before there was Bonds, Sosa and McGuire, there was Schmidty and his 500th homerun.

6. Robin Roberts - I'm taking my Dad's word on this one. He swears the guy was dominant. His name is still whispered in Philly among old timers as one of the great ones.

7. Steve Van Buren - This hall of fame rusher and punt returner lead the Eagles to pre-Super Bowl NFL championships in 1948 and 1949.

8. Connie Mack - Ridiculed for being a cheap b****** in today's movies, he's still world famous. Hey, the guy won 5 world titles with the A's.

9. Richie Ashburn - I knew "Whitey" as the crusty old color announcer teamed with Harry Kalas. A center fielder for the Phillies from 1948-59, he won two NL batting titles and was inducted into Coopestown in 1995.

10. Bill Tilden - "Big Bill" Tilden was one of the first tennis superstars, dominating the sport in the '20s. A homosexual, he was shunned later in life and died penniless and alone. I was shocked to learn he was from here.

11. Bernie Parent - There hasn't been another goalie like him in Flyers' history. Just ask Roman Cechmanek.

12. Jack Kelly - Overshadowed by his daughter's accomplishments as the queen of Monaco, Jack was an Olympic champion rower. Gotta give it up for a guy who was willing to get splashed with Schuylkill River water.

13. Billy Cunningham - I know Billy as the coach of the championship Sixers. Older folks say he was a heck of  a player too.

14. Bobby Clarke - Love him, hate him, burn him in effigy, but you can't ignore how dominant Clarkey had been in Flyers' history, for good or ill.

15. Sonny Hill - When they name the league for you, you have to be good at the sport.

Dave Ralis is sports editor for phillyBurbs.com. His Pave The Grass column appears on Mondays. You can send him an e-mail at  or call him at 215-269-5051. To read his previous columns, click here.

Aug. 12, 2003