The Halls Of Fame That Aren't So Famous NPR's Robert Siegel Checks the Halls -- with a survey of who has been inducted into various Halls of Fame nationwide this year. We stop in to the insurance, burlesque, meat, mascot, billiards, mining and the polka halls of fame.
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The Halls Of Fame That Aren't So Famous

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The Halls Of Fame That Aren't So Famous

The Halls Of Fame That Aren't So Famous

The Halls Of Fame That Aren't So Famous

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/132445166/132445146" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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NPR's Robert Siegel Checks the Halls — with a survey of who has been inducted into various Halls of Fame nationwide this year. We stop in to the insurance, burlesque, meat, mascot, billiards, mining and the polka halls of fame.

AUDIE CORNISH, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

When I was a kid, I used to know who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame each year. Being enshrined in Cooperstown, New York, was - to my mind - the ultimate honor.

This year, Andre Dawson was one of the greats who made it in. And Jerry Rice entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For sports, these are our equivalents of knighthoods, or secular canonizations of the living. And when they're announced, they make news - like Oscar winners and Pulitzer Prize winners and Nobel laureates.

Well, truth is all across America, people are inducted into halls of fame without making headlines. There are black-tie dinners and commemorative plaques that mean a lot to people in one walk of life - and not so much to people in another.

So today, who made it into the hall of fame in 2010?

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. LANE WHITE (National Nominations Chairman, Mining Hall of Fame): William Wheeler Coleman, chief executive for Bucyrus-Erie Company. William Wheeler Coleman was president of that company from 1911 to 1957.

SIEGEL: And he's now in the Mining Hall of Fame in Leadville, Colorado. Lane White, the national nominations chairman, told me about some of the other 2010 inductees.

Mr. WHITE: Dr. Allen Van Heyl.

SIEGEL: Allen Van Heyl?

Mr. WHITE: Heyl, H-E-Y-L. He helped identify producing mining areas all over the United States. Next, Arthur Lakes.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, we mistakenly linked Lakes' name to the accomplishments of inductee Samuel Calvin McLanahan, who was omitted. Lakes discovered dinosaur bones west of Denver, while McLanahan invented equipment for mineral processing.]

SIEGEL: Arthur Lakes?

Mr. WHITE: Lakes, L-A-K-E-S. He invented single-roll crushers, log washers, and a wide range of process equipment that's used in mineral processing operations around the world.

SIEGEL: Over the past couple of weeks, I've spoken with several people like Lane White, people who are gatekeepers to immortality in their industry.

Mr. DAN MURPHY (Executive Director, Meat Industry Hall of Fame): I'm Dan Murphy, and I'm the executive director of the Meat Industry Hall of Fame and one of the two co-founders.

SIEGEL: And this year, who were some of the inductees whom we all might recognize?

Mr. MURPHY: Well, actually, this year there was a number of household names -folks like Dave Thomas, who was one of the founders of Wendy's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers; Ray Kroc, of course, who was the founder of McDonald's; and a number of industry people who probably wouldn't be household names. Dick Bond(ph) was a former president and CEO of Tyson Foods. A guy known as Bill W.D. Farr(ph) was the one who invented the system we now use for feeding cattle. And Joel Johnson(ph), who was the former CEO and chairman of Hormel Foods for about 10 years.

SIEGEL: Where is the Meat Industry Hall of Fame?

Mr. MURPHY: Well, right now it's a virtual hall of fame, in the sense of still seeking a physical location for the historical artifacts and the information we've collected on the members who have been inducted.

SIEGEL: That's Dan Murphy of the Meat Hall of Fame.

SIEGEL: The Insurance Hall of Fame does have a real home. It's at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Professor William Rabel(ph) told me that this year, the hall inducted the former president and then-chairman of TIAA-CREF.

Mr. WILLIAM RABEL (Professor, University of Alabama): Dr. William Greeno, who founded variable annuity. Everyone who knew him loved him, and he's the perfect candidate for the Insurance Hall Of Fame.

SIEGEL: Describe the hall of fame to me. I mean, is it a sort of mini-Pantheon-like structure with, you know, (unintelligible) and portraits hanging on the wall?

Mr. RABEL: Well, there's the portrait gallery and lecture hall, and the portraits of the laureates are hanging all around there. And it's a great place for students to be inspired by what leaders of business have done.

SIEGEL: Is there a particular portrait that is something that commemorates the man or the woman whom people in the insurance business regard as the greatest of all time?

Mr. RABEL: Well, we have some interesting things. We have Edmund Halley, best known for having discovered Halley's Comet. He created the first mortality tables anywhere in the world.

SIEGEL: Halley was also an insurance man, in addition to being an astronomer?

Mr. RABEL: Well, at one time, scientists were not so narrow as they must be now - simply because you have to bore into things. But in those days, you could do work one day in astronomy and the next, mortality.

SIEGEL: And in that very spirit of broad diversity of interest, we turn to Las Vegas and a hall of fame that inducted no one this year, but it did honor someone who has a terrific name.

Ms. LAURA HERBERT(ph) (Burlesque Hall of Fame): Roxy Delite(ph) from Windsor, Ontario.

SIEGEL: That's Laura Herbert, of the Burlesque Hall of Fame. Roxy Delite -D-E-L-I-T-E - earned the Miss Exotic World 2010 title in a competition sponsored by the hall.

Ms. HERBERT: Roxy did a giant number with a big, beautiful costume, which she stripped out of. And she had a giant set prop, which was a cigar that actually smoked.

SIEGEL: Probably a good time for a dignity reset here.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: The next hall of fame on our tour is the Billiards Congress of America Hall of Fame. Like the Meat Hall of Fame, it's a virtual place. Mike Panozo(ph) told me who this year's winners were in the category for meritorious service to billiards.

Mr. MIKE PANOZO: Terry Bell(ph) and Larry Hubbard(ph), pioneers in developing amateur grassroots playing system that has fed, literally, millions of players into the pool pipeline over the last 30 years.

SIEGEL: You speak of the pool pipeline.

Mr. PANOZO: The pool pipeline.

SIEGEL: OK. And there's only one pool player who was inducted this year as being one of the greatest players of all time.

Mr. PANOZO: Right, Francisco Bustamante. Mr. Bustamante finished second in the world championship in 2002, and was named player of the year in both 1998 and 2002.

SIEGEL: Mike Panozo, of the Billiards Congress of America Hall of Fame. At Chris Bench's(ph) hall of fame, this year's inductees aren't people. He's at the Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York, which this year honored...

Mr. CHRIS BENCH (Toy Hall of Fame): Playing cards.

SIEGEL: And...

Mr. BENCH: The game of Life - that made its debut, in its current form, in 1960.

SIEGEL: A board game, the game of Life?

Mr. BENCH: A board game, yes.

SIEGEL: The game of Life and the cards are in august company. The Toy Hall of Fame counts the ball among its past inductees. And Mr. Bench told us that among the serious contenders for next year are sand and dirt. But we're not sure if that's one item or two.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man #1: (Singing) La-la-la-la-la-la (Unintelligible).

SIEGEL: We end our transcontinental exploration of halls of fame in Cleveland -and it's not the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Unidentified Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame Award Show XXIII.

SIEGEL: He says it that way because they use Roman numerals, like the Super Bowl. The winners who were announced at show XXIII: accordionist band leaders Dick Sodia(ph) and Fred Zywick(ph), and the Glasbanamatseza Singing Society(ph), a Slovenian choir.

To all our runners-up for all these halls of fame: Better luck next year.

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