Sportswalk 2007

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first_imgBy Rachel Jones STAFF WRITER A new group of athletes will be immortalized in the sidewalks of San Pedro on Monday, including two young area football players who died earlier this year. Joining such new Sportswalk inductees as George Brett, Reggie Smith and Walt Hazzard will be former USC place kicker and San Pedro High School standout Mario Danelo, who fell to his death at the Point Fermin cliffs in January. His name will share the same plaque with his football player father, Joe, who also is being honored. Cpl. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., who played football at South High in Torrance and who was killed in Iraq in May, is being honored with the Pat Tillman Award for unusual courage. Each year’s inductees typically include four nationally known stars and two local stars. This year, the athletes being honored are tennis pro Amanda Augustus; baseball players Smith and Brett; basketball player Hazzard; football player Jim O’Bradovich; and the Danelos. Two service awards are given each year. In addition to the Pat Tillman award to Anzack, former Harbor College football coach Floyd “Scrappy” Rhea is being honored with the Trani Award for his service to youth. The award is named after the Trani family for their commitment to local sports. The Sportswalk, like a Hollywood Walk of Fame for sports stars, is made up of triangular bronze plaques representing each inductee. The plaques are placed in the sidewalk throughout downtown San Pedro, starting at Sixth and Palos Verdes streets. Bob Bradarich, chairman of the Sportswalk board of directors, said the Sportswalk was started in 1978 because of the popularity of sports in San Pedro, as evidenced by the crowds at local football games. “San Pedro is a very strong, sports-oriented town,” he said. Bradarich said he and the 11 other board members meet once a month during the year to “hash out who we think would be appropriate to go after” for induction. “We choose people who are worthy, but we have some sort of contact with,” he said. The 12 board members vote for the final inductees. Past Sportswalk inductees include NBA great Wilt Chamberlain, San Pedro High track star John Fer, Olympic track-and-field gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee and NBA All-Star Willie Naulls. Events on Sunday and Monday will celebrate the new and old Sportswalk names. Sunday night, new inductees and some alumni will meet at a sold-out banquet at Papadakis Taverna in San Pedro. “That’s quite an evening,” Bradarich said, adding that to get all those sports stars in one room is “unbelievable.” The induction ceremony starts Monday at 10 a.m. and will be followed by a luncheon inside the Crown Plaza Hotel, where inductees will be given replicas of the plaques that are laid in the sidewalk. Radio host and former USC football captain Petros Papadakis will emcee the induction, and sportscaster Ed Arnold will emcee the luncheon. Organizers hope that the big names in the downtown Sportswalk inspire young and old athletes in town. Bradarich believes that young athletes will be encouraged by seeing sports stars’ names in San Pedro. “It gives them something to look forward to,” he said. “It motivates them to someday be like that and someday maybe have a plaque of their own.” Organized by the San Pedro Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, the Sportswalk began in 1978, and induction ceremonies were held each fall until 1998, when securing sponsorship for the ceremonies became difficult. Then in 2004, the Chamber of Commerce created a nonprofit organization, the Sportswalk to the Waterfront Foundation, to take over the induction duties. Now that the Sportswalk is back in full swing, Bradarich hopes they can expand their programs by giving more scholarships, which they often award to San Pedro High School graduates, and possibly opening a sports memorabilia Hall of Fame. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more