A star-studded class — 15 individuals plus the 1948-49 Eagles — will be inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame this fall, yet another accomplishment in their stellar careers.
The organization announced Tuesday that its 15th class will be headlined by former 76er Allen Iverson, Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw, former Eagle Brian Westbrook, and 2008 World Series champion and former Phillie Jamie Moyer.
The group also includes two former Inquirer sportswriters — Mel Greenberg, a women’s basketball writer, and Claire Smith, the 2017 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner as voted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Smith, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, first worked for the Philadelphia Bulletin and after a period of time away from the city, she returned as an editor and columnist for the Inquirer.
The city she grew up in inspired her career.
“The culture of the area’s sports culture was ingrained in my very being. I grew up reading The Bulletin, helped my brother deliver it, learned about the Sixers, Phillies, the Eagles, the Flyers, the Big Five, thanks to that newspaper and its great writers,” Smith said. “When I knew that sports journalism was what I wanted to pursue, there was but one place I wanted to do so. So I was blessed to begin my sportswriting career there.”
Among the athletes who will be inducted, Iverson is the most recognizable. He spent a dozen years with the Sixers after being picked first overall in the 1996 NBA draft and led Philly to six playoff appearances, including one trip to the NBA Finals, in 2001 — the year he was named NBA MVP.
McGraw, the women’s basketball coach at Notre Dame, grew up in Chester County and started for four years at St. Joseph’s in the 1970s. She took over the top job in South Bend in 1987 and has led the Fighting Irish to two NCAA titles — the most recent coming this past April — and has had 29 winning seasons.
Westbrook was drafted by the Eagles in 2002 after playing at Villanova, where he still holds a number of team records. He played eight seasons in Philly, making two Pro Bowls and earning induction into the team’s hall of fame.
Moyer attended Souderton High School in Montgomery County and graduated from St. Joe’s before embarking on a two-plus-decade baseball career. He spent five years with the Phillies, including 2008, when he helped the team to a World Series title.
2018 Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame inductees
Benny Bass: Bass was a boxer from 1919 to 1940. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2002 with a career record of 157-29-6, including 72 KOs. Bass died in 1976.
David Berkoff: Berkoff changed the world of swimming when he introduced his “Berkoff Blastoff” — a new way to speed off the starting blocks — as a backstroker in the 1980s. He attended Penn Charter and attended Harvard, where he won a number of Ivy League individual titles. He won two gold medals as part of relay teams in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, as well as a silver medal in 1988 and a bronze in 1992, both in the 100-meter backstroke.
Gavvy Cravath: Cravath played for the Phillies from 1912 to 1920. He led the National League in home runs six times, and is considered a top slugger of the dead-ball era of baseball. He played in a World Series with the Phillies in 1915. Cravath died in 1963.
Mel Greenberg (Legacy of Excellence): Greenberg wrote for the Inquirer for more than four decades, making his name as an expert on women’s basketball. In 1976, he created the first national women’s basketball poll. He won the inaugural Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Media Award in 1991 — and the award was later renamed for him. He has picked up a number of honors for his work, including induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007 (he was the first writer inducted) and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame in 2002. Greenberg graduated from Northeast High School and attended Temple.
Allen Iverson: Iverson, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016, scored the second-most points in Sixers history (19,931, behind Hal Greer’s 21,586) and ranks sixth in games played for the franchise (722). He has the second-most steals in team history (1,644, behind Maurice Cheeks’ 1,942).
Joanne Iverson: Iverson became the first women’s rowing coach at Penn, in 1968. She cofounded the National Women’s Rowing Association in 1962 and started the National Women’s Rowing Championship for college athletes. Iverson helped bring women’s rowing to the Olympics — the event finally debuted in 1976 — and she managed the first U.S. Women’s Olympic Rowing team, helping to lead it to a silver and a bronze medal. She was inducted into the National Rowing Hall of Fame in 2016 and was a charter inductee into the Women’s Rowing Hall of Fame in 2007.
Billy “White Shoes” Johnson: Johnson, a native of Delaware County, played running back at Widener College for three years before getting being picked by the Houston Oilers in the 15th round of the 1974 draft. He spent 14 years in the league — seven with the Oilers, six with the Falcons, and his final year with the Redskins. He primarily played as a punt returner and was named the Pro Bowl MVP in 1975.
Reggie Leach: Leach played right wing for the Flyers for eight seasons, helping the team win the 1975 Stanley Cup and bringing it right to the brink in ’76. That year, Leach won the Conn Smythe Trophy despite the Flyers’ loss in the Finals and led the NHL in goals scored that season with 61 (still a Flyers record). He was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame in 1992.
Donald Lippincott: Lippincott, who ran track at Penn in the 1910s, won two Olympic medals as a college freshman in the 1912 Games in Stockholm. He holds the distinction of being the first world-record holder in the 100-meter dash, according to track and field’s governing body. He died in 1962 and was posthumously inducted into Penn’s hall of fame in 1998.
Muffet McGraw: The area native has coached Notre Dame to the Final Four eight times and the NCAA championship game six times, and won coach-of-the-year honors four times. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.
Danny Murtaugh: Murtaugh grew up in Chester and played four seasons with the Phillies in the 1940s. He’s best known, however, for the 15 years he spent playing for and managing the Pittsburgh Pirates. He managed the Pirates to World Series titles in 1960 and 1971. Murtaugh died in 1976.
Jamie Moyer: Moyer started Game 3 of the 2008 World Series — a 5-4 Phillies win over Tampa Bay en route to a title. He’s is the only St. Joseph’s baseball player to have his number retired, and he was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 1999.
Louis Santop: Santop — better known as “the black Babe Ruth” — is considered the first Negro leagues superstar. He spent 17 seasons in the Negro leagues and won two Black World Series titles for the Hilldale Daisies (based in Darby). Before those titles, in 1921 and 1925, he spent a year playing with the Philadelphia Giants. Santop, who died in 1942, was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Claire Smith: Smith, who works as a news editor at ESPN, became the first woman and fourth African American to earn the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Spink Award — the most prestigious award given by baseball writers, to baseball writers — when she was honored last summer in Cooperstown. She was the first woman to be put on a baseball beat when the Hartford Courant assigned her to cover the Mets and Yankees in the ’80s. She joined the Inquirer as a columnist, writing from 1998 to 2007. Smith grew up in Bucks County and attended Temple.
Brian Westbrook: Westbrook grew up in Maryland but graduated from Villanova in 2002 after being named a two-time first-team all-Americann while playing for the Wildcats. As an Eagle, he scored the third-most touchdowns and notched the third-most rushing yards in team history.
1948-49 Eagles: In 1948, the Eagles finished 9-2-1 and beat the Chicago Cardinals, 7-0, at Shibe Park to win the NFL championship. That year, the Eagles outgained opponents by more than 100 yards per game. In 1949, the Eagles again won the NFL championship game — this time, they traveled to Los Angeles and beat the Rams, 14-0. That team finished 11-1.
The Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame was founded in 2002 and inducted its first class in 2004. See previous honorees here.
Inductees will be celebrated in a Nov. 1 gala at the Sugarhouse Event Center. Find out how you can buy tickets by clicking here.