In November the name Travis Pastrana will be enshrined in Baltimore's Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, among the likes of local legends including Babe Ruth. Bernie Walter, chairman of the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame, says Pastrana will be the first action sports athlete ever recognized for the honor.
"He's the first one, and to be perfectly honest with you I thought his selection might have been more controversial because for a long time mainstream sports fans and some of my colleagues on the board didn't really buy into the idea that these X Games events were real sports," says Walter. "But the fact is he's one of the strongest world-class athletic competitors of all time, in any sport. He has a great, great personality and tremendous athletic ability, he comes from a strong athletic family, and he does a lot of good things for his community. I'm from Ann Arundel County too, so Travis is like one of my own."
While most of the top freestyle motocross riders eventually end up living in Southern California, Pastrana has stuck by his roots in Annapolis, Maryland. "As a Maryland native I'm so honored and humbled to have been selected into the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame," Pastrana says. "I have great pride in my home state and to have it cemented through the Hall of Fame selection ranks among my most memorable achievements."
Pastrana won his first X Games gold medal in 1999 and has since picked up another ten, in events including Moto X Freestyle, Step Up, Best Trick, and Speed & Style, as well as Rally Car Racing. He began a new career in NASCAR racing earlier this year which has been put on hold until 2012 after injuries sustained during the Moto X Best Trick contest at X Games 17.
And while the Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum and the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards are best known for honoring baseball stars -- Ruth was inducted into the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame in its first class, in 1953, along with Jimmie Foxx and Frank "Home Run" Baker -- Pastrana's catalog of action sports achievements may not strike visiting sports fans as the strangest footnote in the Hall of Fame: Past inductees include some of the state's champion duckpin bowlers.
Pastrana and the rest of the Class of 2011 will be inducted into the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame on November 10, in a ceremony at Michael's 8th Avenue in Glen Burnie, Maryland, and he'll be in good company. The other class of 2011 inductees are:
Sean Landetta, a former NFL punter who won won championship rings with the New York Giants, in Super Bowl XXI and XXV, and got his start as an All-City and All-Metro punter from Loch Raven High School in Towson, Maryland.
Sam Cassell, a former NBA All-star and three-time NBA Championships winner (twice with the Houston Rockers, and once with the Boston Celtics) who first made a name for himself playing for Baltimore's Dunbar High School.
Geoff Zahn, the left-handed Major League Baseball pitcher from Baltimore whose 13-year career from 1973-1985 included stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Twins, and California Angels.
Hasim Rahman, the 2001 WBC, IBF, and IBO world heavyweight champion boxer from Baltimore.
Fred Funk, the PGA pro golfer and former University of Maryland golf coach from Takoma Park, Marlyand.
Tara Heiss, a 2003 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductee who lead the University of Maryland to win the first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference women's basketball tournament in 1978 and was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team which boycotted the Moscow Olympic Games.
Tickets for the November 10 dinner and induction ceremony are $50. Call (410) 859-0151 for more information.