Hall does give us something worth remembering
Hall of Fames are always a tad fascinating.
Sometimes it’s for all the wrong reasons like this past summer when the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville put itself into unwilling contention for a spot on a daytime drama or maybe the next TRU TV “reality” show.
Or the debate over how to handle the Steroid Era players and the now tainted numbers they generated for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cooperstown, for all its effort, already has enough unwritten asterisks on its record book trying to deal with other eras of America’s game that something will come about to handle the situation. While a separate room — which seems to be the adopted answer for the segregation error — might be in order, it will undoubtedly be something just as awkward and highlighting of the issue over the players. That seems to be the inevitable occurrence whenever sports becomes immeshed with a money mixture. The more money, the more issues and the most money makes for the most controversies and most glaring errors.
But absent the green stuff, the lists each year are much more fun.
Maryville College has made this the time recognize former coach Phil Wilks. His impact on football at MC is hard to quantify in wins and losses but when you examine the local coaching ranks, his impact on football in this county is easily recognizable. Check off the staffs at Maryville and Alcoa and you’ll find Wilks players now coaching under two head coaches bound for many more hall of fame ceremonies themselves in future years, who recognize and proclaim the value of those assistant coaches.
But my personal favorite honoree this year was Mimsy Fleming.
There’s no surprise that she went in to the Greater Knoxville Hall. The only surprise was that they got there so soon. Until recently Hall of Fame inductees were mostly white haired, but that — be it out of impatience or prudent recognition — has begun to change as well.
Fleming’s selection ranks as my second favorite for that particular Hall, just behind Ted “Toddie” Cook, and is just as good an example that sometimes the best just love playing the game and have an impact and don’t necessarily have to win the Masters or a Super Bowl or a league batting title.
It helps banish the skepticism of the majors when I can think of watching Mimsy snookering a few dollars out of a friend’s dad during a round at Bay’s Mountain one afternoon back in late 80s long before she started that run of KAWGA titles. It was something I joked with her about the morning before she won her seventh KAWGA in 2006 down in Vonore.
Tom Petty probably summed up the Hall of Fame experience for the major leagues when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“It’s very easy to be cynical about the hall of fame. But on the other hand, it’s really a beautiful thing,” he said.
Which describes the quandaries perfectly well.
Do we consider the arrest record, the chemical enhancements, did they bet on the game, the flamboyant celebrations that mocked the other team and weigh that on some metaphysical scale against the performances on the field?
It’s a series of big, hairy complicated questions and one that seldom appear when the new inductee lists for MC or Blount or Greater Knoxville come out each year.
And maybe that’s what makes these local Hall of Fames so much more important and refreshing. It isn’t to honor the glitz as much as to remember the best of our communities and the way we imagine the game should be played.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times, who enjoys reading comments posted to this column at http://thedailytimes.com