Unitas, the Pro Football Hall of Famer who led the Baltimore Colts to NFL championships in 1958 and 1959 and Super Bowl V in 1971 over 17 seasons with the team, will be honored along with golf legend Carol Mann as a result of a change in the organization's by-laws.
Since the inaugural ceremony in 1956, all inductees had to be Maryland natives, but recently the group added this to eligibility requirements: "Through their athletic achievements and significant contributions to their local communities and the State of Maryland, have earned the distinction at the sole discretion of the Board, of becoming an 'Adopted' Marylander. Earning this distinction requires the nominee to have lived in the state for at least 25 years."
Pittsburgh native Unitas and Mann, who is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and was born in Buffalo, N.Y., will be joined in the 2012 induction class by Danny Ferry, an NBA player with the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs, NBA executive with those teams and the Atlanta Hawks and NCAA standout with Duke; light-welterweight boxing champion Sharmba Mitchell; jockey Mario Pino; and two of only three All-America lacrosse goalies to win the C. Markland Kelly Jr. Award three times: Jim Kappler (Maryland, 1955-1957) and Michael Federico (Johns Hopkins, 1978-1980).
In addition, broadcaster Johnny Holliday will receive the John Steadman Lifetime Achievement Award.
Pat O'Malley and Matt Noble will serve as emcees.
Tickets are $50 a person and include dinner and an open bar for the program set to run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. To obtain tickets, call Barbara Walter at 410-859-0151. Bernie Walter, president of the State Hall of Fame can be reached at the same number.