Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Memphis Sports Hall of Fame Announces Inaugural Class

Posted By on Wed, May 22, 2019 at 2:12 PM

As Memphis celebrates the city's bicentennial, its sports legends will soon have a home — a Hall of Fame — all their own. Wednesday afternoon at AutoZone Park, the Memphis Sports Council announced the members of what will be called the Bicentennial Class of the Memphis Sports Hall of Fame. The inaugural class includes 22 members — six of them deceased — and will be featured in the Memphis Sports Hall of Fame exhibition space on the third floor of AutoZone Park. The Hall of Fame will be open to the public year-round. (Visitors will need tickets when attending during sporting events at the stadium.) According to Memphis Sports Hall of Fame project manager Pierre Landaiche, the goal is to complete design work for the museum in 2019.

The Memphis Sports Council tasked a 35-member advisory committee to select the inaugural class after a nomination process that began in March. (Disclosure: I'm a member of the committee.) There are three categories under which candidates could be considered. Athletes must be five years removed from competing in their sport of choice. Coaches must be five years removed from competition or over the age of 50. And contributors include administrators, philanthropists, trainers, or members of the media who have demonstrated "outstanding service . . . through the development and advancement of sport."

Below are the members of the Memphis Sports Hall of Fame's Bicentennial Class:

Betty Booker-Parks — Record-setting basketball player at Memphis State (1976-80). Scored more points (2,835) than any player at the university, male or female. Jersey number (31) retired by Tigers.
Isaac Bruce — First Memphis Tiger football player to accumulate 1,000 receiving yards in a single season (1993). Jersey number (83) retired by Tigers. His 15,208 receiving yards rank fifth in NFL history. Caught game-winning touchdown pass for St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Bill Dance — Nationally renowned bass fisherman and TV personality. Three-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year and member of the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.
Billy Dunavant — Founder and original owner of The Racquet Club of Memphis and key player in attracting professional tennis to venue, which hosted a tournament for 40 years. Owner of Memphis Showboats, one of the most successful franchises in USFL (1984 and 1985). Helped attract Ducks Unlimited headquarters to Memphis from Chicago in 1992.
click to enlarge Larry Finch
  • Larry Finch
Larry Finch — Star guard for the early-Seventies Memphis State basketball team that helped unify the city in the aftermath of Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968. Led Tigers to the 1973 championship game and still holds program record for career scoring average (22.3 points per game). Won 220 games in 11 seasons (1986-97) as Tiger coach.
Avron Fogelman — Prominent real estate developer and owner of the Memphis Chicks for 20 years (1977-97). Part-owner of Kansas City Royals when franchise won first World Series (1985). President of ABA's Memphis Pros. First chairman of Memphis/Shelby County Sports Authority.
Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway — Most accomplished basketball player in city's history. All-America (1992-93) at Memphis State, third pick in 1993 NBA draft, two-time first-team All-NBA with Orlando Magic, and member of the 1996 gold-medalist U.S. Olympic team. Took over coaching duties at the U of M in 2018.
Claude Humphrey — Star defensive end with the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. Twice named All-Pro and accumulated more than 100 sacks before stat became an official statistic in 1982. Born in Memphis and played at Lester High School. Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Jerry Johnson — Won more than 800 games over 46 seasons as basketball coach at LeMoyne-Owen College. Led Magicians to 1975 NCAA Division III national championship.
George Lapides — Longtime sports journalist, first an editor and columnist at the Memphis Press-Scimitar then a longtime talk-radio host and sports editor with WREG-TV. President of the Memphis Chicks in mid-1980s when Bo Jackson played briefly for team.
Keith Lee — All-America forward for Tiger team that reached the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 four straight years (1982-85), culminating with an appearance in the 1985 Final Four. Tops Tiger charts in career points (2,408) and rebounds (1,336).
Verdell Mathis — One of the top left-handed pitchers in the Negro Leagues. Played nine years for the Memphis Red Sox and beat the legendary Satchel Paige three times. Attended Booker T. Washington High School.
Tim McCarver — A baseball and football star at Christian Brothers High School before playing for three World Series teams with the St. Louis Cardinals, earning championships in 1964 and 1967. Followed playing days with renowned career as a TV analyst. Honored in 2012 by the Baseball Hall of Fame with the annual Ford C. Frick Award.
Nikki McCray-Penson — Star basketball player at Collierville High School before earning All-America status at the University of Tennessee. Won gold medals with U.S. Olympic team in 1996 and 2000. Played nine seasons in the WNBA.
Cary Middlecoff — After graduating from Christian Brothers High School, became first All-America golfer at Ole Miss (1939). After giving up dentistry to play full time, won 40 PGA tournaments including the 1955 Masters and two U.S. Opens (1949 and 1956).
Cindy Parlow — Led Germantown High School to 1994 state soccer championship before twice being named national player of the year at North Carolina, where she helped the Tar Heels to two national titles. Member of iconic 1999 World Cup-champion U.S. soccer team.
Ronnie Robinson — Teammate and close friend of Larry Finch, first at Melrose High School, then at Memphis State, where "the Big Cat" helped the Tigers reach the 1973 Final Four. One of only four Tigers to score 1,000 points and pull down 1,000 rebounds.
Verties Sails — Won more than 700 games over 33 years as basketball coach at Shelby State Community College. Graduate of LeMoyne-Owen College and University of Memphis (where he earned his master's degree in 1967).
click to enlarge "Memphis Bill" Terry
  • "Memphis Bill" Terry
Fred Smith — Founder, chairman, and CEO of FedEx. Integral in promoting and supporting the Memphis sports landscape, with FedEx attached for years to the local PGA tournament and FedExForum the home (since 2004) of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. FedEx is also the presenting sponsor of the annual Soutern Heritage Classic football game at the Liberty Bowl. Graduate of Memphis University School.
Rochelle Stevens — State champion at Melrose High School then 400-meter national champion at Morgan State. Won 400 meters at 1992 U.S. Olympic trials and earned silver medal as part of 4x400 relay team at Barcelona Games. Won gold with 4x400 team at 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Melanie Smith Taylor — Won gold medal in show jumping at 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. One of only two to win Triple Crown of show jumping, and only rider to win aboard the same horse (Calypso). Longtime television analyst.
Bill Terry — Star first-baseman for the New York Giants in the 1920s and ’30s. Batted .401 in 1930 and .341 for his career. Later managed Giants to three National League pennants and the 1933 world championship. Inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954.

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