We have our first class of Fantasy Sports Writers Association hall of famers:
FSWA president Mike Beacom told FSB.com Thursday that these five reached the 70 percent threshold in the final round of voting by the 20-person hall committee. Ambrosius, Berry and Kellogg each came away with 16 votes, while Engel and Karabell followed with 15 apiece.
Ambrosius has been producing fantasy sports magazines since the 1980s, helping give voice to prospective writers along the way. Although this honor specifically deals with editorial contributions, Ambrosius also founded the National Fantasy Football Championship and its baseball counterpart, now part of Fanball.
“Greg Ambrosius was the first person that really gave me a break in the industry,” Beacom said. “I owe something to Greg Ambrosius.”
Berry is the most familiar face in fantasy today thanks to his placement at the forefront of ESPN’s efforts. He arrived at ESPN, however, by way of his site TalentedMrRoto.com — which not only gave breaks to other prominent fantasy analysts of today but has helped to bring more personality out in fantasy writing.
Beacom said that Berry has also been important to FSWA efforts over the years.
“We have a lot of people who have helped the FSWA, and Matthew does it in a number of ways,” Beacom said, referring to more than just Berry’s work at the annual FSWA awards ceremony. “He’s a great showman, a great emcee. He always makes himself available to the FSWA. He doesn’t do it for me. He does it for young writers.”
Engel has popped up in various places throughout the fantasy industry, and if he’s not quite as publicly familiar as Berry, he is certainly known to everyone in fantasy.
Engel was on the earliest crew of fantasy analysts at CBS Sportsline, spent several years with ESPN and now runs RotoExperts.com, including its multiple shows on Sirius XM’s Fantasy Sports Channel.
“Scott’s a major-media pioneer,” Beacom said. “If you’ve been to the conferences, you know he’s the guy you’ve got to spend time with, get to know. He’s likable. He’s been doing it a long time. People are aware of him. Everybody likes him. He — along with Greg Kellogg — is a treasure in our industry.”
For his part, Kellogg has had his hands in just about everything fantasy since the mid-1990s. He began publishing his Kellogg’s Komments newsletter back when folks didn’t give fantasy advice. He helped build the fantasy operation at Fox sports, amid other major-media gigs. (Check his FSB profile for the full list.)
Today, Kellogg remains one of the most accessible veterans of the fantasy industry — including a pair of shows on The Fantasy Sports Channel — and a particularly valuable resource for those trying to break into the industry or make their way.
“A lot of people know him. Everyone loves him,” Beacom said. “He’s a very gracious person. When I spoke to him (about being chosen for the Hall), I could tell he was humbled, that it means something to him.”
Last but not least, Karabell has been with ESPN for many years, from the early days of fantasy’s integration into the Worldwide Leader through a fantasy overhaul that included the acquisition of Berry’s TMR.com.
The length of his stint with ESPN through various stages not only made Karabell one of fantasy’s most public faces, but also allowed him to help a number of new writers.
“He’s been at ESPN a long time, through their transition,” Beacom said. “Eric has worked with a lot of young writers.”
This inaugural induction class is a product of extensive volunteer work by the 20-person hall committee. Beacom stresses that committee members reviewed a lot of material in two separate stages and exemplified its dedication by asking questions of the candidates whenever allowed.
That portion of the effort was led by Robert Burghardt, who was integral to keeping things organized and flowing.
“You need someone who can put the pieces together, and Robert delivered,” Beacom said. “Robert ended up being a great pick.”
The FSWA has yet to nail down specifics on recognizing the inductees, but Beacom says the group wants to make sure the honor is special. More than a one-day honor, the FSWA wants to create a club atmosphere that ties the annual classes together and makes all feel a part of something.
“We’re going to spend, and we’re going to make it special,” Beacom said. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to make it a big deal.”
Getting recognized at this level by a jury of your industry peers — many of whom have probably never met you — is a big deal in itself.