The Florida Sports Hall of Fame has five new members. It’s an eclectic class. So eclectic, in fact, that the criteria for qualification ought to be revisited.
Locally prominent among the new entrants is Tampa’s Tino Martinez, who had a 16-year Major League Baseball career after starring at the University of Tampa. He helped lead the New York Yankees to four World Series titles. Also included: Miami native Michael Irvin, who was an All-American wide receiver for the University of Miami and an All-Pro with the Dallas Cowboys.
Then there’s Chandra Cheeseborough from Jacksonville who was a national sprint champion and Olympic gold medalist. The Tennessee State grad will help coach the USA track team at next year’s Olympics in Beijing. Another solid choice.
The other two inductees are Bill Buchalter and Terry Bolea, arguably less familiar names.
Buchalter, who grew up in St. Petersburg, is not an athlete. He’s an Orlando Sentinel sportswriter. He’s been doing it a long time and is well regarded. But he’s a sportswriter; he chronicles what actual athletes actually do. Put him in the chroniclers’ or pundits’ Hall.
But at least Buchalter is about real athletics. Not so with Tampa-raised Bolea, AKA Hulk Hogan. Of course he was athletic, but it was in pursuit of professional wrestling, which is slapstick theater, not sport. For years he’s been a professional celebrity.
But congratulations to those who truly deserve to be in the Florida Sports Hall of Fame: Martinez, Cheeseborough and Irvin. And additional kudos to Martinez and Cheeseborough for being classy, credit-to-their-community individuals.