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Nominees sought for sports hall of fame

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POSTED December 15, 2008 3:42 a.m.
Wanted: Nominees for Manteca’s Sports Heroes 2009 Hall of Distinction.
According to the Manteca Sports Commission, the individual, team, coach, manager or official — living or deceased — must have strong connections to the area and achieved a distinguished record at the highest level in his or her area of sports endeavor.
The deadline has been moved to early January.
John Heath, event manager for the Manteca Convention and Visitors Bureau, is part of the organizing group of the second annual event known as “Manteca Hook, Wine & Sneakers” planned for Feb. 28 at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex.
“We received one nomination last week and a few held over from last year,” he said on Tuesday.
The select group of a year ago included: Jim Barber (NFL, 1935-1941), Scott Brooks (NBA, 1988-1998), Hardy Brown (NFL, AAFC, AFL, 1948-1960), Milo Candini (MLB, 1943-1951), motorcycle racer Chris Carr (AMA Grand National Track Champion, land speed record-holder with a mark of 350.8 mph), official Jack Gatto (NCAA football referee, 1973-2003), Gerry Knapp (team owner, Manteca Ford Open Division softball team), Ted Nuce (Rodeo world champion bull rider), Robin Taberna Sr. (martial arts master instructor), Paul Wiggins (NFL, 1956-1967) and the unbeaten champion 2006 Manteca High varsity football squad.
Those in this inaugural class are showcased in Hall of Distinction wall located inside the BLD indoor soccer facility.
Heath and his fellow organizers are hoping for this year’s event to be “bigger, better.”
One new feature will be the awarding of a pair of $500 scholarships going to the top male and female high school athlete.
The list of nominees will come from the athletic directors of the area high schools.
As for the special guests, former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Mike Merriweather, KTVU Channel 2 sports anchor Mark Ibanez, one-time San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dan Bunz, and former Niner all-pro defensive back Eric Wright will be among those in attendance.
Tickets are $35 per person, with a 5 p.m. social hour kicking things off.
Dinner will be served at 6 o’clock.
Last year’s event attracted the likes of gold-medal Olympic swimmer Debbie Meyers;  1971 Cy Young Award-winning pitcher and MVP Vida Blue; Pro Football Hall of Famers’ Bob St. Clair and Y.A. Tittle; and former 49ers all-pro linebacker Keena Turner.
“It was great to see high school kids rubbing elbows with NFL Hall of Fame guys,” said former San Francisco pass-catcher and administrator R.C. Owens, who is one of the organizers.
For more information, call (209) 823-7229 or click on to the website, www.visitmanteca.org.
Hall of Distinction nominees can also be submitted at mtcascvbl@aol.com.
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