HALL HISTORY MAKER: Tribune’s Donald Hunt inducted into Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame
Donald Hunt often writes about history-making events so forgive him if he’s modest about being a history maker.
Thursday night, the veteran scribe was one of 14 people inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. Joining Hunt as a member of the Class of 2017 were Andrea Kremer, Bob Boone, Bob Johnson, Granny Hamner, Irene Guest, “Jack” Kelly Jr., Mike Bantom, “Philadelphia” Jack O’Brien, Randall Cunningham, Ray “Chink” Scott, Rene Portland, Ron Jaworski and Tim Kerr.
Hunt’s induction in the 14th inductee class of the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame is significant. He’s the first African-American sportswriter to enter the Hall.
Think about that for a moment.
There have been many sports journalists who have covered sports in Philadelphia. However the number of African Americans sitting along press row has been disproportionately low when compared to white journalists. The trend continues today and is growing. That’s really amazing considering the number of journalists being purged by periodicals continues to grow.
The Black Philadelphia sportswriter is a rarity. That’s nothing new. There have been a few standout Black sportswriters who wrote for Philadelphia-based newspapers. For example, Julius Thompson and the late Thom Greer made their marks in the City of Brotherly Love. They were award winners and highly respected.
There have been a few more Black sportswriters but none have been inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. Hunt has broken that barrier.
In fact, it was the second Hall of Fame induction for Hunt in less than a year. Last Dec. 26, he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Philadelphia Black Basketball Hall of Fame along with Scott, a former West Philadelphia High School star who went on to play in the NBA and became the first African American to win the NBA’s Coach of the Year award.
“I got into the business to write about people, write about schools, write about football programs, basketball programs, teams,” said Hunt. “I was more interested in writing about the world of sports. I never thought about going into the Hall of Fame or any accolades. It wasn’t something on my radar. I just wanted to tell the story about people and write about sports.”
Hunt has never proclaimed to be the greatest sportswriter in the city. He has never bragged about his career. That’s not his style. Instead he has quietly enjoyed a career covering everything from community baseball to professional basketball with a flair of reporting events with accuracy and consistency.
Hunt began his career writing for a weekly newspaper, the News of Delaware County. The late Herm Rogul was instrumental in his joining The Philadelphia Tribune in 1983. After leaving for a brief stint in public relations, Hunt returned to The Tribune in 1996 and has been rolling ever since.
Hunt is a member of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists. In 2011, Hunt was named Journalist of the Year by the NABJ Sports Task Force. He received the Sam Lacy Pioneer Award.
He has been honored by the Philadelphia Association of Black Sports and Culture, Inc. the Penn Relays and the Phoenix Club of Philadelphia. He has written books on The Philadelphia Big 5 and Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame coach John Chaney. His tireless effort was a major reason why late Overbrook High and NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain was awarded not one but two stamps by the United States Postal Service.
He’s definitely aware of what the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame induction means.
“It means a lot,” said Hunt. “It’s a tremendous honor. Being the first [Black sportswriter inducted] is significant. Hopefully it will open up the doors for some other folks. Everything that I try to do I try to represent The Tribune, I try to represent myself, in a way where people if they are interested in going into this field will see me and say, ‘yes, this is something I want to do.’
“I didn’t know originally that I was first but its a real big deal. It’s a big deal for me. It’s a big deal for the paper and its a big deal for a lot of the folks I’ve been able to cover over the years.”
More importantly, it’s history.