ST. PETERSBURG — At one point, he thought he would be known as Dr. Charles "Chuck" Marriott.
A military draft and subsequent 27-month stint in the Army ended that medical dream. So Marriott operated in another field.
For six decades, he has touched on practically every aspect of the greyhound racing industry: enthusiast, kennel assistant and owner, breeder, track mediator, adoption advocate, president of the National Greyhound Association and Tampa Bay Greyhound Association, member of the Greyhound Hall of Fame board of trustees, and American Greyhound Council officer.
Marriott's crowning moment came this week when the Derby Lane kennel owner learned he had been elected to the Greyhound Hall of Fame. The timing is perfect for the St. Petersburg resident: He is retiring this year.
"It is the ultimate (honor)," Marriott said.
Marriott, 68, is the only person in this year's class. The other inductee is former Derby Lane dog Talentedmrripley, a two-time All-America team captain (2001-02) and multiple award winner. Both will be inducted Oct. 16 during the NGA fall meet in Abilene, Kan., raising the inductee total to 102, 58 being greyhounds.
"Chuck will really be missed," Hall of Fame spokeswoman Kathryn Lounsbury said.
Said NGA spokesman Gary Guccione: "(Marriott) has been a great ambassador for greyhound racing and has been tireless in his efforts on behalf of the sport and especially greyhound owners and breeders. He has excelled as far as the professional part of his involvement in racing, operating top kennels for many years and having overseen the careers of a number of outstanding greyhounds."
Marriott, a graduate of Largo High and the University of Florida, said his top greyhound was Ej's Douglas, a 1999 Hall of Fame inductee and 1993 All-America member who won two Rural Rube awards (top sprinter). Rooftop Moby (2003), Bd's Phillip (2000) and Cookin Capp (1992) were All-America dogs as well.
Marriott's doctor recommended he retire.
"I've got some serious medical problems, and the cardiologist told me I've got to get rid of the stress or I am not going to be here," he said. "That made the decision pretty easy.
"Greyhound racing isn't fast enough for the young set. They want computers, computerized gambling machines and poker. (The Florida Legislature) hasn't done anything in recent years to bring their interest back. If something doesn't happen pretty quickly legislatively, Florida is dead; it's over."
Marriott will sever kennel ties at four tracks: Derby Lane, Flagler (Miami), Jacksonville and Mardi Gras (Hallandale Beach). "I'll still be going to Derby Lane," the Baltimore native said. "I'm not giving up living; I'm just giving up dogs."
More Derby Lane: The St. Petersburg Derby begins tonight with championship and consolation finals June 28.
Thoroughbreds: Merchant Marine beat Shopton Lane by a neck in the $75,400 Yankee Victor Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. Trained by Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens, Merchant Marine captured his stakes debut, running 11/16 miles on the fast track in 1:42.36. Merchant Marine paid $5.90, $3.60 and $2.90 as the 9-5 favorite. Shopton Lane returned $6.70 and $4. Gold Trippi paid $4 to show.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.