By Phil Wood
As an 8-year-old baseball fan in Washington, DC, I was cognizant of the fact that the Senators never seemed to be playing in the World Series. The New York Yankees were the American League’s juggernaut in the 1950’s, winning all but two pennants. The Senators seemed to exist merely to provide competition for the other 7 AL teams 22 times every season. Still, despite all of the hoopla that surrounded the Bronx Bombers and their superstar centerfielder Mickey Mantle, we took great pride in the slugging exploits of our own, Roy Sievers.
Roy, who passed away April 3 at his home in suburban St. Louis at the age of 90, was a genuine All-American power hitter. After arriving in Washington in a trade the Baltimore Orioles may still be regretting - Sievers for outfielder Gil Coan, straight up - Roy spent six full seasons at Griffith Stadium, 1954-59. In the prime of his career, between the ages of 27 and 32, Sievers averaged 30 home runs and 96 RBI every 154 games. He batted .267 during that period of time (also his career batting average), and averaged 72 walks and only 68 strikeouts per season. In today’s market, he’d be a $15-20 million a year player.
Oh yes, the Senators during those years had an average annual W-L record of 59-95.
The very first autograph I ever got on a baseball was Roy Sievers. It was June 21, 1959, and my dad and I went to Griffith Stadium for a Sunday doubleheader against Detroit. I had a brand new ball and my dad said to bring it along in case the opportunity for an autograph came along. Once inside after the gates opened - my dad really liked to watch batting practice - I noticed a lot of other boys close to my age were standing along the railing to one side of the Senators’ dugout. Dad suggested I join them with my ball and pen. Just as I got there, Sievers bounded out of the dugout, came right over and starting signing whatever was handed to him. He took my ball, signed it, and handed it back. A minute later Pedro Ramos - who was starting the second game - came out and did the same thing. Suddenly I had my first two autographs. Others signed the ball later, but Sievers is still the lone signature on the sweet spot. Washington swept Detroit that day, and Roy homered in the nightcap.
My heart was broken when the Nats traded Roy to the White Sox two weeks before the 1960 home opener. In return they received catcher Earl Battey, first baseman Don Mincher, and $150,000. My dad figured it was the cash that made the difference, but it seemed odd to see Roy in a Chicago uniform when the Pale Hose came to town.
I kept up with Roy’s career thereafter when the Sox sent him to Philadelphia in 1962, and was surprised when the Phils sold him to the expansion Senators in mid-July of 1964. He was joining another bad ballclub, but that aspect almost didn’t matter.
Roy mainly pinch hit for manager Gil Hodges, and his first hit in a home game was August 18, a month after he'd been acquired. It turned out to be a milestone. Batting for pitcher Alan Koch, leading off the bottom of the eighth inning, he homered off of his old Senators’ teammate Camilo Pascual. It was Washington’s only run that evening in a 6-1 loss to Minnesota. It was also the 315th home run of Roy’s career, and last one he’d hit in Washington. He hit three more long balls that year, with his final career dinger coming at Fenway Park on the season’s last day in another pinch hitting appearance.
It was my good fortune to get to know Roy over the last 30 or so years of his life. He came through town several times for card shows, and we’d sit and chat. When the Orioles were moving from Memorial Stadium to Camden Yards the Orioles asked me to go through their old player personnel files and use my own judgement to determine which ones they should keep. They were not interested in the files of players who never actually wore an Orioles uniform, so when I came across Sievers’ St. Louis Browns file, I asked them to let me send it to Roy.
I did, and a couple of weeks later I received a note from Roy. He said he and his wife had spent an evening going through the file at the dining room table. “We laughed, we cried, it was wonderful,” he said adding “I didn’t remember how bad my handwriting was back then.”
Roy Sievers never “big leagued” anybody in his life. He was unfailingly kind to anyone who remembered his playing days, and had no shortage of stories about almost player he played with or against. He was a player of distinction on some second division teams in Washington that sometimes had very little else to offer their fans. Roy was the cornerstone of the Washington offense, a reason to go to the ballpark. He never got to play a postseason game, but he had no regrets. He often said getting traded to the Nats was the best thing that happened to him during his career. It was certainly one of the best trades the Griffith family ever made, and local fans of a certain age are eternally grateful he passed this way.
Phil Wood, a member of the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame nominating committee, is a commentator for WJFK (106.7) and MASN-TV.
By Hannah Yasharoff
Ceremony Set for Nationals-Braves Pre-Game on Sunday, July 9
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Five-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Katie Ledecky, former National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and three intercollegiate athletic standouts from the University of Maryland spearhead a group of distinguished athletes, coaches and members of the media who have been selected for induction into the Washington DC Sports Hall of Fame. The nine honorees will be inducted in a special ceremony on Sunday, July 9 at Nationals Park prior to the 1:35 p.m. game between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves.
The 2017 class is comprised of Bethesda native and two-time Olympian Ledecky, 17- year NFL Commissioner Tagliabue, Maryland men’s basketball stars Juan Dixon and Tom McMillen and current women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese, retired sportscaster Glenn Harris, popular broadcaster and former Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser, heralded Washington Redskins defensive back and kick returner Mike Nelms and long-time Washington Capitals radio play-by-play announcer Ron Weber.
“This year’s inductees have clearly earned their places in joining the list of luminaries who have represented the Nation’s Capital region so admirably through their excellence and accomplishments in sports,” said DC Sports Hall of Fame committee chairman Bobby Goldwater. “We look forward to honoring them on July 9 at the induction ceremony at Nationals Park and the committee is grateful once again for the generous and enthusiastic support of Mark Lerner and the Washington Nationals.”
The DC Sports Hall of Fame selection committee includes co-chairmen emeritus and veteran D.C. sports executives Charlie Brotman and Andy Ockershausen, former radio and TV reporter/producer Brenda J. Curtis-Heiken, journalist David Elfin, Georgetown University Sports Industry Management master’s program adjunct professor and sports industry consultant Bobby Goldwater, Comcast SportsNet anchor/commentator Chick Hernandez, attorney Phil Hochberg, Washington Nationals vice chairman and principal owner Mark D. Lerner, Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism Director at the University of Maryland George Solomon, attorney Mark Tuohey, radio and television personality and former Washington Redskins tight end Rick “Doc” Walker, baseball commentator and historian Phil Wood and former Comcast SportsNet managing editor and Merrill College visiting professor Joe Yasharoff.
Nominees for inclusion must have gained prominence in the Washington area through their achievements in sports as an athlete, coach, owner, executive, member of the media or contributor.
The 2017 inductees:
JUAN DIXON: A Baltimore native, Dixon led the University of Maryland men’s basketball team to its only NCAA national championship in 2002 and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. Dixon was drafted 17th overall by the Washington Wizards, played seven years in the NBA and recently spent three years as a special assistant on the Maryland men’s basketball team coaching staff. He is currently the head coach of the University of the District of Columbia women's basketball team.
BRENDA FRESE: The head coach of the University of Maryland women’s basketball team since 2002-03, Frese has guided the team to 13 winning seasons, 12 March Madness trips, three Final Four appearances and the 2006 NCAA national championship. Earlier this month, Frese led the Terps to a third straight Big Ten conference tournament title in her 18th campaign as head coach. Going into the NCAA tournament, she has a career head coaching record of 461-110, including 401 victories at Maryland.
GLENN HARRIS: A gregarious sportscaster who recently retired after spending 22 years as the host of “Sportstalk” on NewsChannel 8 and known for his extensive knowledge of DC sports history, Harris also had local television stints at WRC and WTTG and radio shows at WHUR and WOL. Harris graduated from Howard University.
TONY KORNHEISER: Kornheiser was a long-time newspaper writer and columnist, most notably for The Washington Post, following years at Newsday and The New York Times. He has hosted “The Tony Kornheiser Show,” beginning in 1992 on radio stations in the DC area and, more recently, in the form of a podcast. Kornheiser also co-hosts “Pardon the Interruption” on ESPN along with DC Sports Hall of Fame inductee and former Post colleague Michael Wilbon.
KATIE LEDECKY: A graduate of Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart who trained at the Nation’s Capital Swim Club, Ledecky is a two-time Olympian and five-time Olympic gold medalist. She became one of just four American women to win four gold medals at a single Olympics with victories in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle events and the 800m free relay at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where she memorably bested her own world records in the 400m and 800m and added a silver medal in the 400m free relay. She was named the 2016 U.S. Olympic Committee Female Athlete of the Olympic Games at a ceremony held at Georgetown University last September. After the Olympics, she began her career at Stanford University, where she helped lead Stanford to the 2017 NCAA championship and won titles in five events in the NCAA championships. She currently holds three world and six American records.
TOM McMILLEN: McMillen played for the University of Maryland men’s basketball team early in Lefty Driesell’s tenure as head coach and was a member of the 1972 United States Olympic basketball team. He was selected in the first round of the NBA draft by the Buffalo Braves, and later played for the Washington Bullets. After retiring, McMillen, a Rhodes Scholar, represented Maryland’s 4th district in the U.S. Congress for six years. He is currently the president and CEO of the LEAD1 Association, a group for Division I athletic directors dedicated to the improvement of college athletes on the playing field and in the classroom.
MIKE NELMS: Nelms played five seasons as a defensive back and kick returner for the Washington Redskins, including the 1983 Super Bowl XVII championship team. A member of the NFL’s 1980’s All-Decade Team, he was named three times to the Pro Bowl and was named one of the 70 greatest Redskins players.
PAUL TAGLIABUE: Tagliabue served as Commissioner of the NFL from 1989-2006. He attended Georgetown University, where he was the captain of the 1961-62 basketball team, was a Rhodes Scholar finalist and a Dean’s List graduate. He later served a three-year term as chairman of Georgetown’s board of directors. He is currently serving as senior counselor for the law firm, Covington & Burling, in Washington.
RON WEBER: Known as the voice of the Washington Capitals, Weber is perhaps best known for his streak of calling the team’s first 1,936 games from 1974 to 1997. Weber also covered NBA, MLB and NCAA games as well as the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. He was the recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, given to outstanding hockey radio and television broadcasters, in 2010 from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
The names of DC Sports Hall of Fame inductees are prominently displayed at Nationals Park, the site of the annual induction ceremony. Information about the DC Sports Hall of Fame, including the honor roll of all inductees, is available at the organization’s website, dcsportshall.com.
Contact: Bobby Goldwater, email@example.com
By Hannah Yasharoff
The morning of Sunday, July 17 at Nationals Park served not only as the induction ceremony for the 11-member 2016 class of the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame, but as a reunion for a group of esteemed members of the Washington sports world who have crossed paths over the years.
Christine Brennan and Frank Herzog’s careers overlapped in the 80’s as journalists covering the Washington Redskins at the same time that Dexter Manley played defensive end.
Brennan, Herzog and Manley shared a common bond in that their work was connected to the Redskins: Brennan as a sportswriter, Herzog as the team’s broadcaster and Manley as a star defensive end.
The other inductees in the class of 2016 included D.C. United star Marco Etcheverry, basketball star Patrick Ewing, the late Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in the National Basketball Association, University of Maryland field hockey coach Missy Meharg, Good Counsel High School football coach Bob Milloy, tennis star Harold Solomon and the late Perlo brothers—Phil and Hymie-D.C. high school sports legends.
Brennan made history as one of the first women to cover an NFL team. She became notable later for her coverage of the infamous Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding story. Brennan is a current columnist for USA Today and a commentator for ABC, CNN, NPR and PBS, as well as an author of several best-selling books.
“You were there with me all those days in the locker room when we were breaking barriers that George [Solomon, selection committee member and former Washington Post sports editor] and The Washington Post helped break,” Brennan told Herzog before the induction. “He (Herzog) couldn’t have been a greater colleague or friend in a time that could have been difficult, but it wasn’t because there were so many wonderful people with me and behind me and (supporting) women trying to break barriers.”
Herzog also covered the beginning of Patrick Ewing’s career at Georgetown. Following a standout college career in which Ewing led his school to three final fours and was named a consensus All-American three straight years. He was selected as the No. 1 pick in the 1985 NBA draft and spent 15 seasons with the New York Knicks. He was represented Sunday by his son, Patrick Jr., and his grandson, Trey.
“It’s just an honor to represent my father here,” Ewing Jr. said. “He’s honored because he feels like Washington is one of his homes, so to be honored and inducted into the Hall of Fame is a great accomplishment.”
Herzog, now retired, was the voice of the Washington Redskins for 35 years and was the voice for the Washington Bullets’ NBA championship season of 1978. His Redskins broadcasts were so revered that many fans would watch the game on television with the sound muted, so they could listen to Herzog do the games with Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff.
“It’s a double honor for me to be here today,” Herzog said. “Not only to be included in the Hall of Fame roster but I’m enjoying a family celebration. I have 21 family members who came. I’ve got grand-nephews who have no idea who I am, which is kind of fun.”
The late Earl Lloyd grew up in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1950, he became the first African American to play in the NBA as a forward for the Washington Capitols and later became the league’s second African American head coach - for the Detroit Pistons. He died on February 26, 2015.
“Thank you to the committee for this wonderful honor,” said Earl Lloyd Jr., accepting the award on behalf of his father. “It’s a nice honor to represent him.”
Manley spent eight of his 11 years in the NFL as a Washington Redskin. He compiled over 100 sacks for Washington and played in two Super Bowls and three NFC championship games.
“I covered the Washington NFL team for three years and Dexter was so quotable that all I would do is quote Dexter,” Brennan said. “So George Solomon, the great sports editor of the Washington Post, who is here, finally issued a ban on my quoting Dexter Manley. I think that ban lasted for about a week. We realized the stories weren’t anywhere near as interesting and all of a sudden we were back here with Dexter.”
Etcheverry, a native of Bolivia, played eight seasons for D.C. United and led the team to three of its four MLS titles. Considered one of the best players in Washington’s soccer history, he set franchise records with 191 games and 101 assists. A D.C. United representative accepted the award on his behalf.
Meharg, head coach of the University of Maryland’s field hockey team for the past 28 years, has led her teams to seven national championships, 16 Final Fours and 22 conference titles. She has a 509-123-9 record and won 80 percent of her games.
“I’ve been at the university for quite some time and to be honored with the likes of [former Maryland women’s basketball coach] Chris Weller and [former Maryland men’s basketball coach] Gary Williams as my colleagues at the university and certainly Christine Brennan to be inducted into the Hall of Fame here in Washington, D.C. as such an advocate for women and the development of women in sports is quite an honor,” Meharg said. “I thank the committee so much and on behalf of the University of Maryland, thank you.”
Milloy has coached softball, girls’ lacrosse and football across Montgomery County, Maryland for nearly 50 years. He is best known as the head football coach at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School. As a head coach for several different high schools, he set Maryland records for 399 career wins and eight Maryland public school state championships.
“I still can’t even believe I’m here,” Milloy said. “I’d like to thank the committee for including me. It’s quite an honor.”
Phil Perlo, nominated alongside his brother, Hymie, played football for Roosevelt High School in D.C. and went on to play at the University of Maryland. He played one season for the Houston Oilers where he helped the team win the first AFL championship. Perlo died December 11, 1993.
“My father loved… the athletic prowess in Washington,” said Aviva Perlo, Phil’s daughter. “Both my father and his brother were scholars and they were humanitarians, and they pushed the envelope over and over in terms of civil rights. I think that creates a role model for future generations. Their athletic prowess, like many people up on this stage, did not just stop on the field. They carried it off the field into life and wherever they went.”
Hymie Perlo began his sports career as a basketball All-Met at Roosevelt High School in D.C. He then entered World War II, after which he was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. He later continued his involvement in D.C. sports as the Community Relations Director for the Washington Bullets/Wizards. He died April 26, 2006.
“He made it his job to make sure he was bringing together people of different fiscal and mental abilities, of different races and backgrounds, and bringing them together through the power of sports,” said Daniel Perlo Bloom, Hymie Perlo’s grandson. “Looking around at the sports family of Washington, it’s really tremendous to see us all here together and to be remembering my great-uncle and my grandfather.”
Harold Solomon is just the second tennis player to be inducted into the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame. A native of Silver Spring, he was once ranked fifth in the world and reached the U. S Open semifinals as well as the French Open final. He attended high school at Springbrook in Silver Spring.
“It’s an honor to be here with all the other nominees,” Solomon said. “It’s great to see everybody; it’s wonderful.”
The 2016 Inductees:
CHRISTINE BRENNAN: One of the first women to cover an NFL team while with The Washington Post, Brennan went on to become a columnist for USA Today and a commentator for ABC, CNN, NPR and PBS. Brennan has written seven books, including three on figure skating.
MARCO ETCHEVERRY: Considered one of the best players in Washington’s soccer history, the Bolivian midfielder led D.C. United to three of its four MLS titles while setting franchise records with 191 games and 101 assists. The 1998 MVP played eight seasons for the Black and Red and was named to MLS’ All-Time team.
PATRICK EWING: The 7-foot shot-blocking center led Georgetown to three Final Fours, including their lone national championship while being named a consensus All-American three straight years. The No. 1 pick in the 1985 NBA draft, Ewing starred for the New York Knicks for 15 seasons and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
FRANK HERZOG: The voice of the Redskins from 1979 to 2004, including all three of their Super Bowl victories, Herzog also announced the Bullets’ lone NBA title in 1978. Herzog was Channel 7’s sports anchor for eight years and spent 14 years each at Channel 9 and at WTOP Radio.
EARL LLOYD: A product of Alexandria’s then-segregated public schools, Lloyd starred at West Virginia State. On Halloween 1950, Lloyd broke the NBA’s color barrier as a rookie forward for the old Washington Capitols. Lloyd helped Syracuse win its only championship in 1955 and became the league’s second African-American coach with Detroit in 1971. He died on February 26, 2015.
DEXTER MANLEY: No Redskin has sacked opposing quarterbacks more often than the irrepressible Manley, whose big plays thrilled RFK fans for years. The colorful defensive end racked up 73 of his 91 sacks in just 99 games from 1982-87 as Washington won two Super Bowls and three NFC championships.
MISSY MEHARG: In 28 years as Maryland’s field hockey coach, Meharg has compiled an incredible 509-123-9 record, winning 80 percent of her games. The ever-enthusiastic Meharg has guided the Terps to seven national championships, 16 Final Fours, and 22 conference titles.
BOB MILLOY: In 46 years as the football coach at Good Counsel, Sherwood, Springbrook and Walt Whitman, Milloy has won a Maryland record 399 games while enduring just three losing seasons. The National High School Coaches Hall of Fame member’s eight Maryland public school state championships are also a record.
HYMIE & PHIL PERLO: The late Perlo brothers starred at Roosevelt High in D.C. with Phil going on to play football at Maryland and help Houston win the first AFL championship. Hymie, a basketball All-Met, has his career halted and then ended by his World War II service for which he was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. Hymie remained involved in sports throughout his life including many years as the Bullets’ Community Relations Director.
HAROLD SOLOMON: The 5-foot-6 Silver Spring native reached the French Open tennis final and the U.S. Open semifinals and once ascended to fifth in the world rankings with his relentless groundstrokes, including his famed “moonball” lob. Solomon won a 105-shot rally en route to defeating Guillermo Vilas for the 1974 Washington Star title. He lives in South Florida.
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