Three strikes: Voters whiffed on trio

Sammy Baugh
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The panel discusses individuals who were left off the ballot, including Sammy Baugh. WatchVideo

There is nothing wrong with having Nolan Ryan, Emmitt Smith, Tom Landry, Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach in any hall of fame.

But for ESPN Dallas' first Hall of Fame class, it's a flawed group.

The inaugural class should have gone deeper in honoring Dallas/Fort Worth's sports past. Sometimes you have to understand the past to accept the present.

Of all the nominees for the ESPN Dallas Hall of Fame, three names stick out as individuals who should be in.

It's a no-brainer.

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Ben Hogan holds up his trophy from the 1948 PGA Championship, one of his nine major titles.

Bob Lilly was the first pick of the Dallas Cowboys and never missed a game. Never.

He was a seven-time All-Pro.

Did we say he never missed a game? An NFL game?

Out of 292 career PGA Tour events, Ben Hogan finished in the top three 47.6 percent of the time and finished in the top 10 241 times. He won nine majors and was the tour's leading money winner five times. And let's not forget to mention how he rebounded from a near-fatal crash in 1949.

We can also talk about the legend of Doak Walker, who has an award named after him presented to the best running back in college football. Even today, 22 years after his death, his family is honored at the Doak Walker Awards presented by SMU.

Those three were the biggest omissions, but they weren't the only ones.

We could go on for days about how great of a golfer and person Byron Nelson was. And what about the skills of Davey O'Brien, who, by the way, has an award named after him that is presented to the best college quarterback in the country.

When we have these polls about who was the best ever, or to select a first hall of fame class, we forget about the men or women who burst onto the scene when black-and-white photos were in vogue.

Look at some other inaugural hall of fame classes where the past is honored regardless of recently retired players or coaches.

Baseball's first class, set in 1939, had Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and Babe Ruth.

The last time Wagner played in a big league game was 1917. Mathewson last pitched in 1916. Think baseball honored its past?


The panel discusses the credentials of women who deserved consideration. WatchWatch Video

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Check out the 20 candidates for the ESPN Dallas Hall of Fame: GalleryPhoto Gallery

The Pro Football Hall of Fame's inaugural class was presented in 1967. It's worth noting that Jim Thorpe, who was in that first class, last played in 1928.

Red Grange, another member of the '67 class, retired after the 1934 season.

You can even take this to boxing and its inaugural class, established in 1990.

These prizefighters were included and hadn't fought in years: Henry Armstrong, Carmen Basilio, Emile Griffith, Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Billy Conn and Rocky Marciano.

Nothing wrong with having Muhammad Ali in this class too, but boxing got it right by honoring fighters who you only heard about on the radio or read about in newspapers.

If you had to include someone from the last 20 or so years in Dallas/Fort Worth's first class, Landry is the only name who gets a vote.

Talk to some of his former players, and they still revere him. It seems every Cowboys coach is trying to win a Super Bowl, and, of course, act with the same class as Landry.

You can talk about the Ring of Honor all you want, but only one Cowboy gets a statue. Tom Landry, and deservedly so.

But only Landry.

Ryan was a legendary pitcher but never won anything with the Rangers. Smith is the all-time rushing leader, but there are running backs considered better named Brown, Sayers and Payton.

Aikman was a great quarterback, but not as revered as Staubach.

And Staubach should be in the second class after Sammy Baugh gets in.

But that's another argument for another day.