Before the Nationals players took the field for Sunday’s game, a group of legends took it first. The Washington D.C. Sports Hall of Fame inducted its class of 2015 in a pregame ceremony, and a line began to form on the infield that included some of the most well-known figures in area sports.
The Post’s Tom Boswell was the only writer inducted Sunday. Boswell has written for the Post for more than four decades, becoming one of the most beloved baseball writers. He became a sports columnist in 1984, and has combined penetrating insight with optimism and wit ever since.
Among those who joined Boswell on the field was Gary Williams, the former Maryland men’s basketball coach who led the Terrapins to their only national title. Former Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson Jr. was also inducted, as was former Capitals coach Bryan Murray and former Redskins coach Richie Petitbon.
Negro League star “Cool Papa” Bell was honored posthumously in the ceremony. The former Homestead Grays outfielder was considered one of the fastest players of his era and he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, was also honored with a posthumous induction.
Ted Leonsis, owner of the Capitals, Wizards and Mystics, was also inducted, though he could not attend the ceremony. Leonsis spent his afternoon instead watching the Capitals in Long Island — fitting, given that he was honored as one of the most adamant promoters of his teams, and one of the most dedicated owners in the NBA, NHL and WNBA.
Former Osbourn Park basketball standout David Robinson was inducted, as well. MASN reporter Dan Kolko, the master of ceremonies, reminded the crowd that the “The Admiral” graduated high school and entered the Naval Academy as a 6-4 basketball hopeful. He left nine inches taller, a future NBA star. Another local high school star, former Dodgers speedster Maury Wills, was also honored. Wills starred at Cardozo High School before working his way through a lengthy minor league tenure to become one of baseball’s most feared stolen-base threats.
All those on hand were greeted by Charlie Brotman, who served as the public address announcer for every inaugural parade since 1957. Brotman announced the first pitch at every Washington Senators opening day from 1956 to 1971, and announced President George W. Bush’s first pitch when the Nationals began play in 2005. Brotman welcomed the inductees, who join former Senators pitcher Walter Johnson, Redskins star Sonny Jurgensen, area basketball coach Morgan Wootten and others as D.C. Sports Hall of Famers.
The 13 names of this year’s inductees were added to the navy blue banner on the elevators outside Nationals Park. You can find the complete list of honorees below:
James “Cool Papa” Bell – Former outfielder for the Homestead Grays
Thomas Boswell – Washington Post sports columnist and author
Len Ford – Four-time all-pro defensive end
Ted Leonsis – Owner & CEO of Monumental Sports and Entertainment
Bryan Murray – Former coach of the Washington Capitals
Richie Petitbon – Former safety, defensive coordinator and coach of the Washington Redskins
David Robinson – Former Naval Academy all-American, Olympic gold medalist and NBA all-star
Eunice Kennedy Shriver – Founder of the Special Olympics
John Thompson Jr. – Former men’s basketball coach at Georgetown University
Guy Harris “Doc” White – Former Major League pitcher
Gary Williams – Former men’s basketball coach for the University of Maryland and American University
Maury Wills – Former National League Most Valuable Player
Warner Wolf – Legendary sportscaster