World Series champion Charlton headlines S.A. Hall of Fame class

World Series champion Charlton headlines S.A. Hall of Fame class

Credit: David Flores /

Norm Charlton, who won a World Series title as a relief pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, is among five people who will be inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame in February.


by David Flores /

Posted on October 15, 2012 at 7:56 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 15 at 10:37 PM

Norm Charlton, who won a World Series title as a relief pitcher with the Cincinnati Reds in 1990, credits his two coaches at Madison High School for a good share of his success during a 13-year career in the major leagues.

Charlton played for John Langerhans as a sophomore and junior, and for Syl Perez when he was a senior in 1981.

"John Langerhans taught me how to pitch," Charlton said Monday. "Then John left and Syl came in and he taught me how to win. I will never forget this.

"We had a time in the dugout when Syl was coaching and he said, 'You know, there are guys out there better than you, but you have to find a way to win. You've got to pick up a trash-can lid and hit them with a trash can, or whatever.' I still remember that to this day. He didn't teach me everything I knew, but he taught me how to win."

Charlton headlines the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2013, which was announced at a news conference Monday at the Dominion Country Club.

Other members of the class are:

• Nell Fortner, a New Braunfels High School graduate who coached the U.S. women's basketball team to the gold medal in the 2000 OIympics.

• Former Spurs All-Star forward Larry Kenon, who averaged 21.2 points and 10.1 rebounds in five seasons with the Silver & Black.

• Golfer Joe Conrad, who won numerous amateur championships in the 1950s and was inducted into the Texas Golf of Fame in 1997.

• Former AT&T CEO Edward Whitacre, Jr., who became a major force on the local sports scene in 1992 when the Fortune 500 Company, then called Southwestern Bell, moved to San Antonio. 

Charlton called his own pitches in high school

The Class of 2013 will be enshrined at the annual San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame Tribute on Friday, Feb. 15, at the Alamodome.

Charlton, 49, was part of Cincinnati's "Nasty Boys" bullpen in 1990, when the Reds beat the Oakland A's in the World Series. A left-hander, Charlton played for six teams during his career and was selected for the MLB All-Star game in 1992. He retired in 2001.

 "It's a great honor to know that my picture and my plaque will be at the Alamodome from now on," said Charlton, who lives in Rockport and works as a fishing guide. "I have a lot of connections with this city. I'm back here all the time. I've got a lot of friends who still live here. My brother and his family live here. A lot of ties."

Perez chuckled when he was told that Charlton still remembers how Perez challenged him to find a way to win during that one-sided dugout conversation 31 years ago. 

"It's not one of my prouder moments," Perez said. "What I told him was what Corky Nelson, my football coach at Harlandale, used to tell us. He said, 'If you're going down a dark alley and you're outnumbered or the guys are bigger and stronger than you are, you do whatever you have to do. I don't care if it's a trash-can lid you have to use, never give up and just keep going."

"In 13 years of coaching high school baseball, the only pitcher I ever had that I didn't call pitches for was Norm Charlton," Perez said. "He called his own game. I was smart enough to recognize that he was pretty sharp. He was a triple major at Rice. I'm proud of him."

Perez recalled that Charlton's passion for baseball was reflected in every way he approached the game.

"I would work late all the time because I'd rake the field," Perez said. "Norm would always take care of the (pitcher's) mound. He took care of it like it was his own little baby."

Fortner one of country's top basketball coaches

Fortner was a standout volleyball and basketball player at Texas before starting her coaching career. She coached at Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana Tech and Purdue before she was named head coach of the U.S. women's national team in April 1997.

Fortner guided the squad to the gold medal in the 1998 FIBA World Championships, and was the winning coach when the Americans beat Australia for the gold medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

She coached the WNBA's Indiana Fever for two seasons and worked as an ESPN analyst from 2001-2004 before returning to women's college basketball at Auburn before the 2004-05 season. Fortner coached at Auburn for eight seasons, leading the Tigers to the NCAA tournament twice. She retired after the 2011-12 season and has rejoined ESPN as a basketball analyst.

Fortner did not attend Monday's news conference.

Thirty-two years after his last game as a Spur, Kenon remains one of the most exciting players in the franchise's history. While James Silas muscled past defenders and George Gervin finger-rolled into basketball immortality, Kenon blew by opponents with his speed.

Known as "Special K" by Spurs fans during his five seasons in San Antonio, from 1975-80, Kenon ignited crowds at HemisFair Arena with his hustle and emphatic dunks on fast breaks.

Kenon was the Spurs' top rebounder in each of his five seasons with the team. He had 11 steals against Kansas City in 1976, setting an NBA record that still stands.

Kenon played for five teams in seven seasons and played in five All-Star games (three ABA and two NBA).

"I had a true love for the game," said Kenon, who lives in Boerne. "I enjoyed the game. My generation, we worked hard for a living. That's what I did. Simple as that."

Asked if basketball is different now, Kenon said, "No, the game is the truth and the truth never changes. The younger kids with different attitudes play the game now, but the game is still there."