A hockey legend and a women’s baseball pioneer are just a pair of this year's inductees into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.
Friday afternoon, the class of 2017 was officially introduced to the public before an evening banquet to honour them further.
Ryan Smyth, he of 1270 games, 386 goals and 842 NHL points, most of which came with the Edmonton Oilers, headlines this year’s group.
The Banff native said he’s extremely humbled.
“Everybody came from different avenues. From the athletics side, the commitment, the sacrifice, the dedication that each person put in to get to this stage is awesome to see. To be recognized from the committee and the Sports Hall of Fame here in Alberta is breathtaking,” he said.
As an Oilers fan growing up, Smyth admits he was extremely fortunate to live out his dream for 14 years in his home province.
“I loved every minute of it. I appreciated the people and the commitment that they got their bums in the seats to cheer on their team. I was fortunate and blessed to be a part of it all.”
Captain Canada also offered an update on his health after sustaining a massive hit during the Chinook Hockey League final, saying he’s feeling better and that he still needs some dental work done. He hasn’t made up his mind about playing again next season.
Another star of the show on Friday was Betty Carveth Dunn, recipient of this year’s Pioneer Award.
Dunn, 92, was the master of the spinning ‘suckerball’ and one of just 64 Canadian women to play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, depicted in the movie A League of Their Own.
Dunn said it’s great that the league she played in is still remembered fondly.
“It was made for Hollywood, the picture, but a lot of it was true. It was wartime and Phil Wrigley had ideas that there was going to be another major league team in the States and of course when the men came home, it fizzled out,” she said.
On how far women have come in sport since her day, Dunn added, ‘They have, they’ve progressed a lot, but they have a long way to go yet to be on par with the men. There are lots more young people, young women playing baseball than there was before, which is a great asset because sports is just -- it’s wonderful for young people, and it keeps you out of mischief.”
The rest of the class of 2017 includes Lethbridge boxer Rick Duff, Edmonton swimmer Keltie Duggan, baseball builder Doug Jones, world champion alpine skier John Kucera, tennis builder Hans Maciej (posthumous), basketball builder Herbert McLachlin (posthumous), golfer Marilyn Palmer O’Connor and squash builder Sharon Trenaman.
As well, the 1984/85 NAIT Ooks hockey team is being inducted and St. Albert journalist Jeff Hansen received the Bell Memorial award.