Lakewood Ranch resident and ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale was recently selected for induction into the Little League Hall of Excellence in South Williamsport, Pa. Vitale, who is enshrined in 11 different Hall of Fames, will be inducted during the Little League World Series Aug. 18. Here is an inside look at this week’s Athlete of the Week.
What was your reaction when you learned you were being inducted into the Little League Hall of Fame?
I was in awe because people like George W. Bush, Tom Sever and Oral Hershiser are in there. I’m very proud of my 11 Hall of Fames. I pinch myself every day because I can’t believe it.
What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself while playing Little League?
Playing Little League was a vital part, I think, in the development of my love for sports. It was my first uniform. I used to sleep with that uniform on. It also was my first team experience and (learning) what it was like to win or lose.
Why do you think you have been so successful?
How did it happen? All my life I’ve been instilled with passion and have (learned) it’s not only about you. I’ve really carried those (values) with me and it’s given me the honors that have come my way. I’ve got a great team. I’m 24/7 family.
Which of your 11 Hall of Fames are you the most proud of?
Obviously, the Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame is so unique and special. The greatest players, contributors and coaches are recognized. There are probably 350 people (in there) and to be one of those 350 in the history of the game … that’s not to take away from any of the other hall of fames, but I’m very proud of that.
If you hadn’t chosen a career in sports, what would you be doing?
I was enthralled with criminal law. I used to take trips to the courthouse. I would go to the courthouse and watch trials. I wanted to be what my son-in-law was, but I didn’t have enough patience.
What’s your favorite stadium?
Camden Yards in Baltimore. I like the whole environment and all of the ambiance. I also like PNC Park in Pittsburgh and AT&T Park out in San Francisco.
How long have you and your wife, Lorraine, been married?
Forty-two years and she’s still my best friend.
What’s your favorite type of food?
Italian food. I could eat it every (night). I go to Le Colonne on St. Armands, Bella Roma on Siesta Key and Salute in Sarasota at least once a week.
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