Philadelphia may be a sports town, but for more than two decades, the city's teams just couldn't seem to close the deal at the championship level.
That was then; this is now.
Starting with the Phillies' back-to-back trips to the World Series — and now the Flyers heading to Chicago to start the Stanley Cup Finals — it's clear that Philly Phever is back.
The Flyers' final playoff game on Monday night proved to be such a big deal, in fact, that organizers of that evening's Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony shuffled the schedule to accommodate two honorees with a stake in the game.
Comcast SportsNet personality Michael Barkann and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts were among the eight inductees at the Gershman Y ceremony that night. The pair were inducted right as the event got under way so that they could take off for South Philly and catch the remainder of the game.
The ceremony for the 2010 class included intermittent updates on the Flyers' score, and also honored young athletes who had competed in the Maccabi Games.
Barkann and Roberts were in good company; in addition to the athletes with them on stage, they were joined by 51-year-old Andrea Kremer, a correspondent for NBC Sports.
Accepting her honor, the native Philadelphian said that she had been struck by a 15-year-old girl's recent comment: " 'I've wanted to be you since I was 5.' "
Kremer liked the notion since she herself had no such female role model at such a young age.
She explained that at nearly every job she's ever had, she was the first woman to be hired there, such as at ESPN, where she was the network's first female correspondent when she began working there in 1989, or again at NFL Films, where she was the first female producer/director and on-air reporter for the syndicated program.
These days Kremer lives with her family in Massachusetts, but she was raised in the Philadelphia area.
When accepting the honor, she recollected that her father had taken her to football games at Veteran's Stadium as a child, and stressed how important it was that her parents were willing to buy her books about sports as a kid and never minded that she was more interested in football than Barbie.
Kremer attended the University of Pennsylvania and went on to begin her career as sports editor at the Main Line Chronicle in Ardmore. In addition to her time with ESPN and NFL Films, she's worked most recently for HBO's "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel," as well as NBC Sports, where she's covered Michael Phelps at the 2008 Olympics and was the sideline reporter for the 2009 Super Bowl.
On His Toes
The night also honored those who broke records as well as barriers.
Frank Levine, 96, was honored for his career as a runner — a career that began 30 years ago.
"I started running, for all real purposes, when I was 65," said Levine, adding that he's run 18 marathons since then.
A New Yorker by birth, Levine came to Philadelphia around the same time he began running. He runs two to three miles on alternating days, and also works out with a heavy boxing bag — as a much younger man, he won the New York City Golden Gloves as a flyweight.
One of his notable achievements came about last summer, when he earned the world track record for his age group in the 5,000-meter run.
On stage to accept his award, Levine explained that while others in the race finished in 15 or 16 minutes, it took him longer, though he was still first in his age group.
But as he was starting to tire and slow down, he said, the announcer, Pete Taylor, came over the P.A. system and said: "Frank Levine is headed for the world record — let's push him on!"
With that encouragement, said Levine, "I was flying, and I sprinted the last 2,000 meters and I set a world record."
As if that weren't enough, Levine set the world record for the 3,000-meter race in 2004. Both records still stand.
Four others were inducted to the Hall of Fame during the Monday-night event. They include basketball players Larry Goldsborough and Alan Stein; football player Richard Rosenbleeth; and rower Scot Fisher.
This year also served as the Bar Mitzvah year for the Hall of Fame, which celebrated its first class of inductees in 1997 — the same year, it just so happens, that the Flyers were last in the Stanley Cup Finals.