I’m going to need your help with this week’s #WNSTSweet16

March 16, 2014 | Glenn Clark

We’re celebrating our 16th year as Baltimore’s sports media leader here at WNST. We like celebrations, so we’re doing it for the entire year. Yeah. Our celebrations are better than your celebrations.

To mark the occasion, we’re taking a look at some of the bigger “water cooler” topics that have been discussed during the course of the WNST era. We’re already nine lists into the year, here’s a look back on them if you’ve missed any.

Week 10: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 events a Baltimore sports fan must attend
Week 9: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest Baltimore college basketball players
Week 8: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 Orioles who didn’t live up to the hype
Week 7: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 most underappreciated Maryland basketball players
Week 6: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local sports “Heartbreakers”
Week 5: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local Olympic sport athletes
Week 4: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local athletes who deserved to win a championship but didn’t
Week 3: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 local sports people who “had a dream”
Week 2: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports playoff moments
Week 1: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 “debuts” in local sports history

It comes back around to me here in Week 11, and I’ll admit I’m a little overwhelmed by this one. I’m going to be leaning on your guys perhaps more than I ever have before.

Not everything in sports can be measured be stats. That’s exactly what makes this week’s #WNSTSweet16 list so difficult.

As you know, Monday is St. Patrick’s Day…or St. Patty’s Day…or St. Paddy’s Day…or whatever the folks on social media tell me it is. No one on this week’s list will have driven snakes out of anywhere-but I’m not certain we know St. Patrick did either.

In recognition of March 17 (and also nicely timed with the annual Ed Block Courage Awards), this week’s topic is “Sweet 16 local sports saints-athletes who gave back.”

There are a few ways this can go. In fact, I thought of essentially three different categories that someone could fall into when it comes to this list.

1-An Orioles/Ravens/Colts/etc. player who gave back with their money.

We’re certainly aware of athletes who have made major contributions to charitable endeavors. Todd Heap’s name immediately came to mind when I thought of this category-specifically considering the $1 million donation he recently made to Franklin Square Hospital. There are a number of others whose giving has been well known over the years, but many of the better known sports-related philanthropists are not actually athletes (see: Angelos, Peter or Modell, Art).

2-An Orioles/Ravens/Colts/etc. player who gave back with their time.

I feel like this is going to be a category where we’re going to find more of our “saints” for this list. A number of players are well known to have taken countless hours to help in this community. Matt Stover famously seemed to appear at just about every possible community event there was (and still does!). If I had to guess right now, Lenny Moore is probably currently attending some sort of community gathering as long as he’s feeling well enough to do so. Brooks Robinson was certainly well known to frequent things like Lions Club meetings to help fundraising.

But giving back with time doesn’t have to be driven by charity alone. Part of the legend of Cal Ripken surrounds his willingness to stay after games at Memorial Stadium or Camden Yards to sign autographs and greet kids. On top of his other kindness, that certainly qualifies for this list.

3-Athletes originally from the area who have made a point of taking care of those in their hometown.

This category is perhaps my favorite of the group. Not every athlete who has given back to Charm City has ever played for a team in the area. While Tommy Polley did eventually spend some time with the Ravens in his career, it is far from what he’s best known for. Athletes like Carmelo Anthony, Sam Cassell, Antonio Freeman, Kurk Lee, Keion Carpenter, Denny Neagle and others are from Baltimore and have shown just how much they care about Baltimore.

But who else? And how to rank them? Who is Baltimore’s greatest sports “saint”? Who has given back to our community the most?

I want your ideas. Leave them here in the comments or email me via glenn@wnst.net. We will be discussing the list throughout the day Monday on AM1570 WNST.net. We’d love to have you Tweet with us or discuss the topic via Facebook by using the hashtag #WNSTSweet16.

On Tuesday morning, I will unveil the “official” list here at WNST.net and then discuss it with Drew Forrester & Luke Jones on “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” at 8am. I will then re-visit the list at 4pm Tuesday on “The Reality Check Driven by Jerry’s Toyota Scion”.

Stats won’t help me with this one. The mostly “saintly” local sports figure may have been by no means a Hall of Famer or even a star. Who needs to be recognized? Let your voice be heard!