Another class of inductees was announced by the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame (HOF) last week. For the 23rd consecutive year, no soccer players were inducted and it certainly asks questions about how and why, in a city the size of San Antonio, this is even possible.
San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame (HOF) Background:
According to its website, the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame, a partnership of San Antonio Sports, the San Antonio Express-News, and the City of San Antonio, was founded in 1995 and recognizes those who have made an impact in the world of sports, either through outstanding athletic achievements or outstanding contributions to athletic programs, and have ties to San Antonio.
The eligibility criteria for nomination is that nominees must have lived in the Greater San Antonio area and have made an impact in their sport, either by competing at the highest possible level or by helping others do so. The nominee must be a Greater San Antonio native or his or her primary athletic fame must have come while living in the area. Those still actively participating in their sport are not eligible for consideration.
Every year a gala is held to induct 4-5 new members (or teams) to the Hall of Fame. The proceeds from this gala, according to the non-profit Hall of Fame, benefit more than 1,000 kids by “giving local children the chance to be healthy, fit and to fulfill their dreams”. After joining the SA Sports HOF, inductees are recognized with plaques at a consolidated location in the Alamodome. Among the 2018 inductees is Gordon Hartman, founder and owner of the now defunct San Antonio Scorpions and the individual who built Toyota Field (pictured above). Details on Hartman, other inductees and the 2018 Tribute Gala can be found in this link.
Current Members of the Sports Hall of Fame:
Since 1995 when the first class was inducted, there have been 114 individuals and 2 youth teams that have entered the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame. The player inductees represent traditional sports like baseball, basketball and football, but also a wide variety of additional sports as diverse as shooting, synchronized swimming, pentathlon and rodeo. The inductee list extends as far back as far as 1917 when Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Ross Youngs began his 10 year MLB career. Plenty of the honored players made careers at colleges and professional teams outside of San Antonio as would be expected. The HOF also includes coaches and other inductees, like Hartman, who are builders and administrators. Bottom line, the list is extremely inclusive and just about every sport possible, except soccer (and ice hockey-which is understandable), seems to be covered.
So the question should be asked-why in 100 years San Antonio has never developed or produced a soccer player worthy of entering the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame?
The lack of any soccer players in the 114 person Hall of Fame also raises other deeper and possibly more troubling questions:
- Has there ever been a professional soccer player at the “highest possible level” in the United States (MLS or the original NASL) that was born or grew up in San Antonio?
- I am fairly certain that no San Antonio player has ever been capped by the U.S. National team (Men’s or Women’s). Am I mistaken?
- I have lived in the Hill Country between Austin and San Antonio for only 5 years, but have been following MLS since the beginning. I am not aware of any San Antonio player who has played in the league. Are there any I am missing? Update: Long-term members of the San Antonio soccer community have identified three local players who have featured in MLS…two of whom played in the early years of the league.
- Marco Ferruzzi, who currently is an Assistant Coach with FC Dallas, played 19 games for the now defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny in 1997.
- Lance Key, who last season was a Fox Sports Southwest announcer for SAFC, played 34 games for the Colorado Rapids in 2000-01.
- Blake Smith, who played for Miami FC of the NASL this past season, was with Montreal Impact for 2013-14 and scored two goals.
- Were there any local soccer players who played for the original NASL San Antonio Thunder in the mid-70’s?
- Has any San Antonio soccer player ever played in LigaMX or another international first-division soccer league?
- Has there ever been a San Antonio player who has played in a youth CONCACAF Qualification tournament or a Youth World Cup at any level?
- Have any San Antonio women played in the NWSL or either of the defunct predecessors to this league?
- Have there been any top-level college soccer players who did enough to earn a spot in the SA Sports Hall of Fame?
- San Antonio claims to be “MLS Ready”. Is this really true if there have been no top-level soccer players ever produced out of the local youth or high school soccer systems?
- The roster for the current United States U17 World Cup team playing in the World Cup in India now includes a Portland Timbers Academy player (Akil Watts) who originally came from a club in Ft. Wayne, Indiana-Ft. Wayne United. This club is the same club that produced USMNT legend and current Houston Dynamo defender DaMarcus Beasley. The 2016 population of Ft. Wayne is approximately 264,000. San Antonio’s population is 1.493 million. I understand the issue is not this simple, but how is it possible that this city (or the surrounding area) seems to have not produced players of this caliber when Ft. Wayne has produced two of them?
- Does any of this matter and should local San Antonio soccer fans and the youth soccer community be bothered by this situation?
I am not sure I have the answers to these questions, especially the last one. I welcome any thoughts on these questions and issues raised in this article (and will publish any input if desired).
As an aside, as it relates to soccer and Hall of Fame discussions, thanks to the generosity of the Hunt Family, FC Dallas and the City of Frisco, the under-construction U.S. Soccer National Hall of Fame will be reopen at Toyota Park in Frisco, Texas later in 2018. The original US Soccer HOF museum was located in Oneonta, New York and all materials from the Hall have been in storage since the New York HOF facility closed in 2010.
Further details can be found here: