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This is an edited version of a blog posted on http://www.wnst.net
WNST and Toyota have started an NCAA bracket-style contest to determine who is the King of Baltimore Sports. The field consists of 32 athletes, including 4 </br>play-in athletes voted on by listeners/fans. The voting process is still going on, and I am petitioning that the great City of Baltimore give Gary Gait the respect he deserves.
Click the link above to view the list and vote for fan write-ins...the contest is open to everyone, even if you don't live in Baltimore!
Late morning/early afternoon host Bob Haynie, who in my mind is the best sports voice in Baltimore, is going to absolutely hate me for this. But, I strongly feel that Gary Gait, the Cy Young of the fastest sport on two feet, deserves a spot in the King of Baltimore Sports contest.
Baltimore is America’s hot spot for lacrosse. It is arguably the most popular high school and college sport in the great state of Maryland. It’s no coincidence that almost every year the NCAA lax tournament is held either in Baltimore or within driving distance. For you analogy buffs out there, when you see this:
What fills in that blank? Lacrosse. Ask anyone, anywhere.
Since lacrosse is the most popular/most played sport in Baltimore, and Gary Gait spent five seasons here as a player-coach (about as long as Frank Robinson did in an Orioles uniform), how does the ambassador of that sport not get mentioned in a 32 player field that represents the Kings of Baltimore sports?
Gary Gait, the Michael Jordan of lacrosse, spent countless hours in this city, both promoting the sport and playing/coaching for local teams. He invented moves that wound up being banned by lacrosse leagues and broke nearly every NCAA and NLL scoring record imaginable.
Gary Gait was better at his sport than Ray Lewis is at football. He is better at his sport than Cal Ripken, Jr. was at baseball. To me, that’s not even up for debate. He is a 15-time All-Pro and 6-time National Player of the Year in the National Lacrosse League, as well as a three-time consensus All-American in college at Syracuse. Gait served as an assistant coach on the University of Maryland women's teams that won seven consecutive NCAA championships in the 1990s and earlier this century. Lacrosse Magazine named him to its All-20th Century Team and the NCAA named him to its 25th Anniversary Team. He won two national championships here (just as many as Frank Robinson) with the Baltimore Bayhawks (MLL) as a player-coach.
That’s a damn impressive resume. And for the Lacrosse Capital of the World to not mention him in a King of Baltimore Sports contest would be an absolute travesty.
During the "morning hand-off", when the Comcast Morning Show transitions to the Bob Haynie Show, Bob and morning host Drew Forrester discussed whether or not Frank Robinson should be in the Final Four of this contest. Drew mentioned longevity as a reason to keep him out of the Final Four, while Bob thought he should be in the Final Four hands down because of his caliber of play while in a Baltimore uniform.
If we want to talk about caliber of play while in Baltimore, Gary Gait deserves to be in the tournament just as much as Frank Robinson. Gary Gait was actually better at his sport than Frank Robinson was at his…sorry. He changed the game of lacrosse so much that they had to make rules especially for him so he would not dive OVER lacrosse goals, shooting the ball with one hand with a sniper’s accuracy, and making every man with a long stick look like a rec league player.
Let’s remember that this is Baltimore and lacrosse is what we do here when we grow up. Every young man in my generation has at least picked up a lacrosse stick, and they have all certainly watched games, have a favorite collegiate team regardless of where they went to school, and understand the rules to the point where they could ref the games.
If one of the main criteria of this contest, as stated on the WNST website, is to attempt “to mix up eras while ultimately keeping the top seeds separated by era,” then Gary Gait HAS to be in the field of 32. He facilitated lacrosse in every fathomable way and made the sport the monster it is today in this area. He is the King of the most popular local sport of this era, so he must be in this contest.
Now is he more of a legend than Johnny U? No. Does he deserve to get out of the first round? No. I mean, lacrosse, as big as it is around here, does not trump the great legends of the other sports of this town. Considering the play-in winner plays one of the legendary number one seeds (Johnny Unitas, Ray Lewis, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Brooks Robinson), Gait should most certainly not make it past the first round. But does he deserve to be MENTIONED in the tournament? Absolutely. We owe the ambassador of the state's most popular sport AT LEAST that much.