The State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame 2014 Inductees

11 Aug

Never heard of the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame?  You’re probably not alone.  It needs more recognition as it was founded in the early 60’s and honors some amazing NW Sports talent and the personalities behind it.  Their motto is “Recognizing Talented Sports Figures Around Washington” and when I look over the list, it brings back wonderful memories of the Seattle SuperSonics basketball team, many fun Mariner’s baseball moments, the Gold Cup Hydroplane races, and much more.

Fresh off of Saturday’s induction of Sweet Lou (Former Mariner’s Manager; Lou Pinella) into the Mariners Hall Of Fame, and prior to Sunday’s Seattle Mariners game against the Chicago White Sox, they held a formal induction of Chip Hanauer along with Alvin Davis, Detlef Schrempf, and others as part of the 2014 entrants into the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame.  Born and raised in Seattle, Lee Edward “Chip” Hanauer wanted to be a car racer as a boy, but with Seattle having a strong connection to Hydroplane racing, he made his way into the water based sport instead.  After graduating with honors from WSU in 1976, Chip started racing boats, and by 1978 it had become a full time profession.  After joining the Atlas Van Lines Unlimited Hydroplane racing team, winning his first race in 1978.  Over the next 18 years, Chip was able to achieve 60 more race wins, 7 National Championships, plus 11 Gold Cup victories here on Lake Washington.  He is one of the winningest Hydroplane racers of all time.  He did sample car racing, even driving for Team Seattle one year to compete at the 24 Hours of Daytona.  Today, Chip resides in the Seattle area, volunteers his time helping disadvantaged children, and disabled American veterans.  He also can be found on his website:   http://www.theboatguy.com       Its obvious from his site that he is a great supporter of the NW and the many wonderful causes and people… this may make him a good inductee for a Hall of Fame… Sports or not!

Another inductee was Alvin Davis who brings back great memories to me when he played so well for the Seattle Mariners as Mr. Mariner.   Alvin started strong in 1984 homering in his first two big league games and then hitting three doubles in his third followed by a good year, earning him Rookie of the Year awards.  He became one of the favorite Mariner players of all time.  He left Seattle in 1992, but has now returned, with his Hall of Fame talents to help the Mariners Farm Teams with player development.  This spring, he was spotted helping in any way he can at Mariner camps, including picking up baseballs, loading dufflebags, or coaching young players.   He’s still simply, Mr. Mariner.

Most of us locals remember Detlef Schrempf when he played for the U of W Huskies Basketball in the early 80’s.  If not, perhaps when he played for the Sonics in the 90’s.  He was always  strong player on both college and professional teams, but more importantly, he started a charitable foundation in 1996 which has raised over $10 million for children’s causes in the NW.

Other 2014 inductees are Keith Jackson (Sportscaster), Jack Thompson (WSU Quarterback), Eddie Feigner (King of softball), and Tom Sneva (1983 Indy 500 winner).   Jack Thompson had been nicknamed the Thrownin Samoan as he set an NCAA record of 7818 yards, becoming the most prolific passer in college football.   Spokane produced the Sneva boys, and one of the 5 was Tom Sneva.  He liked racing and in 1974 devoted himself completely to the sport by moving to Indianapolis, Indiana to race.  By 1975, he was on contract with Penske.  Starting off with a huge crash at Indy might slow some people, but Tom captured his first Indycar win in Michigan just a couple weeks later.  Tom went on to win the 1983 Indy 500 race after finding  a way past both Al Unser Sr. and his rookie son, Al Unser Jr..  Tom won’t win too many awards for being a nice guy, but nobody will question his grit and speed.

Maybe the most impressive inductee this year is Eddie Feigner, the Walla Walla native who may not be a household name.  He is in the world od baseball and especially fastpitch softball.  When Eddie was asked by Sports Illustrated about how he pitched over 900 no-hitters and 238 perfect games in softball, he dismissed it by simply saying, “Its like being the world champion nose blower.”  He travelled the world doing shows known as the King and his Court, consisting of just himself, a first baseman, shortstop, and a catcher taking on a normal 9 player team.  They would take on any and all talent who’d try to hit one of his pitches.  The Shortstop was there incase anyone actually did put a little wood on a ball.  One time in 1967, Eddie struck out the six best pro baseball players of their day; Brooks Robinson, Maury Wills, Roberto Clemente, Willie McCovey, Harmon Killebrew, and Willie Mays.  Again, Eddie dismissed the credits by saying, ““It was a mismatch,” in an interview with a publication of the Loma Linda University Adventist Health Science Center. “A baseball batter has no concept how to hit a fastball that rises like mine, or sliders and curves that break 18 inches.” He could pitch perfectly from 2nd base, right field, behind his back, or blindfolded… in fact, on the Tonight Show, he once pitched a cigar out of Johnny Carson’s mouth from across the stage, while blindfolded.  I’m not sure who deserved credit for being braver.. Johnny or Eddie.   When he was asked if it was true that he once threw a underhand fast ball in Yankee Stadium from Right field over Home plate for a perfect strike, he said, “No, it was curve ball and it passed over Second base on the way.”   One more oddity was that as a infant, he had been abandoned and raised by adoptive parents who named him Myrle King.  Later as Eddie joined the Marines in WWII he had to provide parent info and as he researched who his mother was, he found she had lived nearby and as a teenager he’d actually mowed her lawn.   In old age, he continued to pitch saying. “I’m too dumb to quit.”  He earned his place in the Hall of Fame as a talent, and entertaining person.

The State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame already has many wonderful people on the walls.  BTW, they use the Tacoma Dome to hang the plaques for their inductees.  Included are NW greats like Gil Dobie, Fred Hutchinson, Emil Sick, Phil Mahre, Downtown Freddy Brown, Marv Harshman, Earl Anthony, Jim & Lou Whittaker, Dave Neihaus, Jim Zorn, Pete Gross and many more.  Each with great stories and each bringing back fun stories from the Northwest.  Take the time to read through the inductees list and enjoy the info at:  washingtonsportshof.com

BTW… After the 2014 HOF celebration, the Seattle Mariners went on to beat the Chicago White Sox 4 to 2 in a very entertaining game!

 

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