Cricket Hall of Fame in the United States of America? The answer is yes.
In February of 1981, a group of visionary Hartford cricketers established the Hall of Fame, after a year of frustration and disappointment.
At the outset, the organization was named the “United States Cricket Hall of Fame,” but that name was short-lived because of proprietary considerations. The initial attempt to start the institution was buoyed by verbal encouragement of team representatives from Toronto, Canada to Los Angeles, California.
An Executive Committee which was given the task to get the organization off the ground, established a formula by which every participating organization would share equally in the business of the Hall of Fame. With some apprehension though much enthusiasm, the ensuing document was mailed to those organizations and a select board of regents (geographic representatives).
After much tedious work and some expense, the results that followed, proved to be disastrous. Not a single organization or individual responded. Unmoved by the lack of real interest, the Executive Committee at its February 1981 meeting agreed to recommend to the membership of its parent body, the Sportmen’s Athletic Club, Inc., that the program be instituted on an in-house basis. The optimism of the Executive Committee was reflected by the support of this new phase from those members who thought that it was an idea whose time had passed. Faced with the pitfalls of new ideals and stinging criticism, the committee stuck to its convictions. The rest is now history.
The first Annual Cricket Hall of Fame Induction Dinner was held on October17, 1981, at the Hartford Holiday Inn Hotel. The affair was well attended. The capacity of the facility (330 dinner guests) was exceeded and the festive nature of the program prevailed. The inductees were James Gabriel, John Law, Lloyd Walford, Alfred Valentine, Lance Gibbs and Wesley Hall.
The Hall was dormant for a period of five years.
Under the leadership of former Sportmen’s president Michael Chambers, the Hall of Fame became active again and has since regained the respect that it previously had among cricket players and lovers of the game.
Since its revival, the Hall of Fame has inducted former Test stars Sir Vivian Richards, Alvin Kallicharran, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts of the West Indies, Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Syed Abid Ali of India, Gregg Chappell and Kerry Packer (posthumously) of Australia and Tony Greig of England.
Local inductees such as Roy Sweeney, Vincent Hosang, Hugh Pitter, Mahammad Quereshi to name a few.
The institution has also aided some deserving charities, which included the raising of more than 400,000 surgical gloves for care givers in Jamaica working with AIDS infected children. Through its Humanitarian Award program, the Hall of Fame has raised funds for organizations like the Boys’ Town project and Boy Scouts movement in Jamaica, a youth hotline project in Barbados, the Alvin Kallicharran Foundation and a children’s home in St. Lucia.