Fitch Hall of Fame can’t seem to get this one right

The Day - - SPORTS - MIKE DIMAURO m.dimauro@the­day.com

Let's just call this what it is:

The Big Lie. Be­cause, re­ally, what other con­clu­sion ex­ists? The Fitch Ath­letic Hall of Fame: The Big Lie. Yep. The lat­est class was an­nounced ear­lier this week and again — again — no rep­re­sen­ta­tion from the state cham­pi­onship foot­ball teams from 1999 and 2000. And, you know, I'm about to lose my sunny dis­po­si­tion.

Fact: The sons of Fitch lost three games be­tween 1997 and 2001. Record: 52-3. Five league cham­pi­onships, four state cham­pi­onship game ap­pear­ances, two state ti­tles, a bus­load of col­lege play­ers and a No. 1 rank­ing in the en­tire state (2000 sea­son).

The lone player from the golden era in the Hall of Fame: Ra­heem Carter, the quar­ter­back of the 1999 team. Carter's in­clu­sion, how­ever, is based more on his post-ca­reer courage, show­ing the chops to be­come a New Lon­don po­lice of­fi­cer be­fore suc­cumb­ing to can­cer at 25 af­ter an ar­du­ous fight.

So I stand by the orig­i­nal as­ser­tion: This is a Big Lie.

Can some­one ex­plain, for in­stance, how Ge­orge Hall, a 2001 grad­u­ate, hasn't been in­ducted yet? Hall: a two-time hon­or­able men­tion Big 10 line­backer at Pur­due. Butkus Award nom­i­nee, the honor given to the na­tion's best col­lege line­backer, as a ju­nior. Later signed with the Min­nesota Vik­ings. Yet no Hall for Hall. “As a friend of mine said, ‘Ge­orge Hall can sign with the Vik­ings but can't get in the Fitch Hall of Fame?'” re­tired Fitch his­tory teacher and for­mer as­sis­tant foot­ball coach Tony Ca­faro said Wed­nes­day. Tony C shoots, Tony C scores. How about oth­ers from the era of 52 wins and the last team around here to earn a No. 1 rank­ing in the

fi­nal state me­dia poll?

Mike Hall (North­east­ern), Bran­don Cook (North­east­ern), John McCoy (New Hamp­shire), An­drew Berggren (Villanova), Matt Mad­dox (maybe the best of them all), Dante Ross (Buck­nell). Or Will De­veau, Rashad Carter, coach Mike Emery … on the band plays. Apolo­gies for all those un­in­ten­tion­ally omit­ted.

And so none of them — none — is wor­thy? Re­ally? Last year's ex­cuse: No­body nom­i­nated them.

Ah, but some (in­clud­ing Ge­orge Hall) were nom­i­nated this year.

And the rea­son they're be­ing ex­cluded? Hello? Is this thing on? This is not to sug­gest oth­ers, past and present, aren't wor­thy. No is­sues what­so­ever with other in­ductees this year. Ex­am­ple: Ed Har­vey, the for­mer three-time state cham­pi­onship base­ball coach, is a Fitch leg­end. (And can we name the base­ball field af­ter him please?) Ben Latham, a two-time State Open cham­pion throw­ing the javelin, later do­ing so at the Univer­sity of Ok­la­homa: no brainer.

But, again, how am I sup­posed to take this se­ri­ously when for­mer Fitch ath­letes who made the whole state take no­tice are black­balled in their own school?

I mean, you lose three games in five years, send a num­ber of play­ers to no­table col­leges, achieve a No. 1 rank­ing and are an af­ter­thought be­cause com­mit­tee mem­bers are pulling a Sgt. Schultz?

They know noth­ing, they see noth­ing, they hear noth­ing.

Not a prob­lem else­where

There are good peo­ple do­ing good work at 101 Gro­ton Long Point Rd. But this does noth­ing for any­one's cred­i­bil­ity. They should look around. Phil Orbe and the gang con­sis­tently get it right with the Montville Hall of Fame. So does Jim Cava­lieri in Water­ford. The guess here is that had the folks in those towns en­joyed back-to-back state cham­pi­onship foot­ball teams with a 34-game win streaks, they'd trip over them­selves to as­sure as many of the dra­matic per­sonae get in­ducted as quickly as pos­si­ble.

In Gro­ton? Not so much. Per­son­al­i­ties, as they of­ten do amid sto­ries of unchecked dys­func­tion, get in the way of what's right.

I'm pretty sure the 34-game win streak was nei­ther a mi­rage nor an op­ti­cal il­lu­sion. It ac­tu­ally hap­pened. Ge­orge Hall was one hell of a player. Just don't look for his name any­where at his alma mater.

The Big Lie. This is the opin­ion of Day sports colum­nist Mike DiMauro.

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