This is the acceptance speech retired Inquirer columnist Bill Lyon gave Wednesday at his induction into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.

A few years ago, Ken Avallon asked me what I thought of the notion of a Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. I asked him: "Don't we already have one?"

A few years ago, Ken Avallon asked me what I thought of the notion of a Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. I asked him: "Don't we already have one?"

No, we don't. Or rather, we didn't. Well then, more was the pity. Ah, but now that void is filled, and deservedly so, for we live in a city that boils with sporting passion, a city that has a matchless capacity for suffering, a city whose sports teams can send it soaring into paroxysms of joy or plunging into black holes of despair.

This is the city where Wilt dunked and Concrete Charlie tackled, where the Doctor sky-walked and Moving Van ran, where Schmitty homered and Smokin' Joe knocked people into next week, where Moses predicted fo-fo-fo and came within one of making good on it.

This is the city that is home to legendary venues: the Palestra, that charming little basketball passion pit; Franklin Field, where last the Eagles won a championship. That's right. The E-A-G-L-E-S really did win it all, back there 47 misty years ago. And Boathouse Row, where the night lights glisten and where, in spring chill and summer heat, the waters roil under the piston strokes of the oars.

A Hall of Fame, a place to harbor memories and mementos, to revive and store the names and the deeds of derring do, a place to keep the candles lit. Where better than here? Where better to preserve the long, illustrious roll call of those who have played here and coached here? Where better to honor the legacy, the rich and varied sporting history, than here?

And, of course, there are the fans. Ah, yes, always the fans. Celebrated in lore, they are as hardy as sidewalk weeds. They fuel themselves with street-corner soft pretzels seasoned with bus exhaust fumes. And what they do best is endure. Their capacity for anguish is without equal. Where else does anyone suffer more grandly yet keep coming back for more? They could teach loyalty to a dog.

An entire generation has grown up since last we won a championship. Babies have begotten babies, and none have seen a parade. If you were in high school when the Eagles last won a title, you are now closing in on Social Security. But still, undaunted, no matter how often knocked down, the Philly sports fan keeps getting back up.

And what captures us, what captivates us, is effort. We will wrap our arms around any team, any athlete, that tries. Show us your blood, and we shall love you forever. What plays here is grit and gristle, heart and hustle.

For all that soils our sports today - the arrogance and avarice of coddled mercenaries, the Machiavellian agents, the loutish, drunken behavior in the stands - for all that, sports remains the place where we are privileged to witness pride and passion, valor and resiliency, perseverance and persistence - great, shining examples of the fierce, unbending indomitability of the human spirit.

To those who are inducted tonight, I am humbled and honored to be in your august company. There is a common bond that we all share, and that is that none of us made it up here on our own.

There is an old racetrack saying that no jockey ever runs faster than his horse. And so it is that we who are honored tonight stand on the shoulders of many - of family, of friends, of coaches, of teammates. And if you will indulge me, I want to acknowledge my family, all of whom are here tonight: My wife of 43 years, Ethel; our sons, John and Jim; our daughter-in-law, Sandy.

One of the best things about growing older is that you get to enjoy one of God's greatest creations - grandchildren. So stand and take a bow, Evan Michael Lyon and Joshua William Lyon.

When Ken Avallon first asked me what I thought of the notion of a Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame, I told him I thought it was a good idea. After all this, I think it's a really, really, really good idea.