WHENEVER sportswriters gather for a powwow late at night and the conversation turns, as it always will, to the greatest Filipino athlete ever, you can hear names from almost different sports.
Caloy “The Great Difference” Loyzaga is the greatest,” said one sportswriter who has spent a lifetime writing about basketball.
“Gabriel “The Flash” Elorde should be the one,” said a middle-aged writer-turned-boxing historian.
“Why not three-time Olympian Teofilo Yldefonso, who won back-to-back bronze medals in swimming in the 1928 Amsterdam and 1932 Los Angeles Olympics?,” blurted another veteran scribe whose receding hairline reveals his true age.
A little younger writer thinks otherwise.
“Bowling legend Paeng Nepomuceno is my man. He is four-time World Cup champion.”
“Or why not chess legend Eugene Torre, the first grandmaster from the Philippines -- and Asia -- who blazed the way for generations of players with his talent on the 64-square board?” added another while mumbling memorable games of the 64-year-old “Living Legend”.
There are other equally-deserving Filipino athletes whose achievements are enough to keep the discussion long into the night.
But what about baseball/softball great Filomeno “Boy” Codiñera?
Well, Codiñera, who died last Oct. 25, 2016 at the age of 77, surely deserves a special mention.
And two years and one month after his death which left the local sports world a poorer place, Codiñera is finally getting a long-overdue recognition.
He is one of only 10 athletes who will be enshrined by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame.
The third batch of enshrines will be feted in a fitting ceremony at the Philippine International Convention Center on Nov. 22.
“A fitting recognition to a great athlete who brought pride and joy to the country through his achievements in sports,” said PSC Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez during the formal PSC Sports Hall of Fame announcement at the PSC Bldg. in Manila recently.
“He may now be gone, but not forgotten in the local sports world, especially baseball and softball,” added Ramirez.
Let us count the ways:
-- Recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records for hitting seven consecutive doubles during the 1968 Mem’s Softball World championship in Oklahoma, United States.
-- Known for making a grandslam home run with two outs in the final inning to defeat Mexico.
-- The only Filipino player to be invited to play in US Major League by the Minnesota Twins.
-- Represented the country in the 1966 World Amateur Baseball Championship held in Hawaii, USA, winning the bronze
-- Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Lifetime Achievement awardee, 2016.
--Outstanding Manileño awardee.
-- Adamson University Sports Hall of Fame, 2012.
--Canlubang Little League Posthumous awardee, 2016.
-- Coached the MayniLA Golden Girls women’s softball team of then-Manila Mayor Lito Atienza that competed in the 2001 Girls Big League Softball World Series.
--Coached the softball and baseball teams of Adamson University to multiple titles in the UAAP..
-- President of the Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines in 1995 to 2002.
-- Chairman of Membership Committee of the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP).
“Coach Boy (Codiñera) is really one of a kind. He deserves all the accolades he is getting now,” said Codiñera’s close friend and associate, Engr. Robert Evangelista.
“I am sure he is happy in the spoets heaven right now,” added Evangelista, who personally nominated Codiñera for inclusion to the PSC Sports Hall of Fame.
On Nov. 22, Codiñera will join Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) founder Ambrosio Padilla, four-time World Cup champion Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno, 1978 Asian Games gold medalist Olivia “Bong” Coo, 1979 FIQ gold medalist Lita de la Rosa, two-time Asian Games sprint champion Lydia de Vega-Mercado, golf giant Ben Arda, track and field star Josephine de la Vina, basketball hero Loreto Carbonell and boxing champion Erbito Salavarria in the Hall of Fame ceremonies.
I was still too young to be a witness to Codiñera’s superhuman feat.
But I would surely not miss the opportunity to watch his family climb the stage to receive the Hall of Fame trophy which he richly deserves.
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