Sure, DiMaggio and Marciano are no-brainers. But the Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame, placed strategically in the middle of the quaint Heart of Italy neighborhood, boasts some other big names that the average fan might not immediately expect. For instance, one of the more recent inductees was Mary Lou Retton, and NFL greats Montana, Marino, and Abbaticchio (you knew he invented the spiral kick, right?) all count themselves members of the esteemed institution. The one-room space may be small, but you could spend hours perusing all the memorabilia, from Rockyís 1952 World Heavyweight Champion belt to Alan Ameche's Heisman trophy. And who could resist checking out wrestler Macho Man Randy Savage's glittering robe?
Though the displays are loosely grouped according to era, the exhibition cases are a bit overwhelming. Videos at each exhibit help to frame the immigrant experience in sports and give insider information on well-known events and athletes. If you're looking for more, ask Program Coordinator Richard Policastro (sure to be wandering around collecting the $5 suggested donation) for some stories. He's met most of the living inductees at one time or another, and is always willing to share. Induction ceremonies happen annually, so if you have some cash to burn, you can go and rub shoulders with your favorite Italian athletes and celebrities. Just donít get in Dick Vitale's way when heís headed for the onion dip.
Centerstage Reviewer: Ben Rubenstein