The Sports Club of Tampa Bay inducted Brandon teacher and baseball advocate Tony Saladino, former Bucs quarterback Vinny Testaverde, and former major leaguer and Jefferson High graduate Luis Gonzalez into its Hall of Fame on Wednesday night.
Saladino, founder of the annual Tony Saladino High School Baseball Tournament, has built a sterling reputation as a teacher and supporter of students and athletes. The tournament, named for Tony's father, takes place next month at four sites beginning March 8.
It includes all of the county's public high school teams and often future major league stars of the game. The semifinal and championship games will be held at Brandon High on March 13-14.
Although the tournament has featured more than 30 players who have gone on to the majors, Saladino remains humble about the event and stresses that it's about teaching sportsmanship. He's also quick to credit his wife, Bertha.
"There's nothing extraordinary about me except my wife," Saladino told Times staff writer Marlene Sokol last year.
Gonzalez is one of only 19 players in major league history to collect at least 2,500 hits, 500 doubles, 350 home runs and 1,000 RBI. He enjoyed a 19-year career with the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins and Arizona Diamonbacks, who retired his number.
Testaverde rose to fame as the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback of the Miami Hurricanes before being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1987. He played 21 seasons in the NFL, with his best season coming in 1998 when he led the New York Jets to the 1998 AFC Championship game.