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Willard Nixon 
1970

Nixon was born in 1928 and pitched for the Lindale textile league baseball team at the age of 17. At the age of 19, he led the Lindale Teams to a pennant and play-off championship by posting a 10-1 record in regular season play and a 3-1 record in the playoffs.

Willard accepted a baseball grain in aid to Auburn University in 1947, and while there two years re-wrote many of the Southeastern Conference record books. He signed with the Boston red Sox in June of 1948 and was sent to the farm team in Scranton, PA. , where he won 11 games his first season and Scranton won the Eastern league title.

In 1949 Nixon was sent to Louisville and then to Birmingham of the Southern League. His record at Birmingham was 14 victories and the Barons made it to the playoffs. In January 1950, “Nick” signed again and was sent to Louisville again, but recalled by the Red Sox in July and won his first start against Chicago. He won 8 games that year while losing 6. 1951 saw Nixon with the Red Sox and the Sox were in a chase for the American League flag until injuries hit them. Willard finished the season 7-4.

The 1952 baseball season saw Nixon with Boston under a new manager, Lou Boudreau. It was a bad year for Boston as they finished in the second division and Nixon had 5 wins. In 1953 Nixon was with Boston throughout the season and was happy to see Ted Williams return to the team after service in the Korean War. 1954 was one of Nixon’s best in the WIN department.

He won eleven games and four of those were over the fabulous New York Yankees; hence he earned the title “Yankee Killer”. In 1955 Will Nixon reported to the Red Sox in Sarasota and to a new manager, Pinky Higgins, who had managed Will in Birmingham. Will opened the 1955 season by beating the Yankees 8-4 on opening day. It was his 5th straight win over New York. On his second outing of the season he shut out Washington 1-0 on five hits; then shut out the Yankees 1-0 in his next game. Nixon’s next outing was a 3-2 win over Detroit’s Tigers. The newspapers called the 1955 season the season of arrival for Willard Nixon. By August 10th, he had won 12 and lost 5 and the Red Sox were 1 and a half games off the top spot in the American League. Nixon had beaten the Yankees four out of the five times he faced them.

The season of 1956 was a season of great moments and disappointments for Will Nixon. He continued his dominance over the Yankees but developed shoulder problems. The Sox attempted to put him on the disabled list but Baseball Commissioner intervened and Nick stayed on to pitch big wins for Boston team. In September he pulled a muscle and was through for the season with a 9-8 mark. The ’56 season saw Nixon develop a new pitch for him, the Knuckler. Through the 1956 season Nixon has an 11-6 lifetime record against the then, dreaded New York Yankees and Mickey Mantle said “Nixon gives me more trouble than anybody in the American League.” The winter of ’56 and early ’57 saw Will working hard at home with weights to help the arm problem. The 1957 season Will Nixon was using the knuckle ball more frequently and the Red Sox finished 5th in the American League. Nixon finished 15th in the American League’s pitching department, winning 12 and losing 13, he also led the American Leagues’ pitchers in the hitting department with a .293 average.

Deceased

Willard Nixon 
1970

Nixon was born in 1928 and pitched for the Lindale textile league baseball team at the age of 17. At the age of 19, he led the Lindale Teams to a pennant and play-off championship by posting a 10-1 record in regular season play and a 3-1 record in the playoffs.

Willard accepted a baseball grain in aid to Auburn University in 1947, and while there two years re-wrote many of the Southeastern Conference record books. He signed with the Boston red Sox in June of 1948 and was sent to the farm team in Scranton, PA. , where he won 11 games his first season and Scranton won the Eastern league title.

In 1949 Nixon was sent to Louisville and then to Birmingham of the Southern League. His record at Birmingham was 14 victories and the Barons made it to the playoffs. In January 1950, “Nick” signed again and was sent to Louisville again, but recalled by the Red Sox in July and won his first start against Chicago. He won 8 games that year while losing 6. 1951 saw Nixon with the Red Sox and the Sox were in a chase for the American League flag until injuries hit them. Willard finished the season 7-4.

The 1952 baseball season saw Nixon with Boston under a new manager, Lou Boudreau. It was a bad year for Boston as they finished in the second division and Nixon had 5 wins. In 1953 Nixon was with Boston throughout the season and was happy to see Ted Williams return to the team after service in the Korean War. 1954 was one of Nixon’s best in the WIN department.

He won eleven games and four of those were over the fabulous New York Yankees; hence he earned the title “Yankee Killer”. In 1955 Will Nixon reported to the Red Sox in Sarasota and to a new manager, Pinky Higgins, who had managed Will in Birmingham. Will opened the 1955 season by beating the Yankees 8-4 on opening day. It was his 5th straight win over New York. On his second outing of the season he shut out Washington 1-0 on five hits; then shut out the Yankees 1-0 in his next game. Nixon’s next outing was a 3-2 win over Detroit’s Tigers. The newspapers called the 1955 season the season of arrival for Willard Nixon. By August 10th, he had won 12 and lost 5 and the Red Sox were 1 and a half games off the top spot in the American League. Nixon had beaten the Yankees four out of the five times he faced them.

The season of 1956 was a season of great moments and disappointments for Will Nixon. He continued his dominance over the Yankees but developed shoulder problems. The Sox attempted to put him on the disabled list but Baseball Commissioner intervened and Nick stayed on to pitch big wins for Boston team. In September he pulled a muscle and was through for the season with a 9-8 mark. The ’56 season saw Nixon develop a new pitch for him, the Knuckler. Through the 1956 season Nixon has an 11-6 lifetime record against the then, dreaded New York Yankees and Mickey Mantle said “Nixon gives me more trouble than anybody in the American League.” The winter of ’56 and early ’57 saw Will working hard at home with weights to help the arm problem. The 1957 season Will Nixon was using the knuckle ball more frequently and the Red Sox finished 5th in the American League. Nixon finished 15th in the American League’s pitching department, winning 12 and losing 13, he also led the American Leagues’ pitchers in the hitting department with a .293 average.

 

*Deceased

John H. Cook, Jr.
1972

He learned his football under one of Georgia’s great all time high school coaches, Jim Cavan. Cook learned it well and well enough to play varsity football at the University of Georgia in his freshman year. He learned well enough to play under the immortal Wally Butts and he learned the game well enough to play first string tailback. Quote Wally Butts, “Cook is the best tailback that has been at Georgia since I became coach. I don’t mean he’s Sinkwich or Trippi but he is such a hard worker and loves the game so much that he developed into a very clever ball handler.” A quote from Joe Livingston, Journal writes in 1943, “Johnny Cook, the Rome Rocket, completed 73 of 157 passes for 1,007 yards and a .465 percentage to lead the nation in passing”. Another quote from Morgan Blake, famed Atlanta sports columnist, “Georgia has in John Cook, one of the best triple threat backs in the south. Cook is a magnificent passer and runner.” 

In 1943 John Cook lead the nation in passes completed, he stood third in total yards gained by passing; he tied for longest runback of a punt (80 yards) and tied for the longest runback of a kickoff (81 yards). He was named to the All Southeastern Conference team as a freshman and had an Honorable Mention All American as a freshman.

Following a great career at Georgia, Cook signed to play professional football in the Canadian League with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1948. In that league he played first string and set a passing record of most yards in a single game, in his first year.

John Cook’s love for football carried him into officiating when his playing days were done. He is now a referee in the famed Southeastern Conference after many years as one of the top high school referees around.

Carl Knowles
1972
 
 

Growing up in the late 20’s and early 30’s was tough on a youngster and many a young man turned to the boxing world to earn his keep. In those days the boxing game was as big as professional baseball and football today. The athletic great names in those days listed many a fighter in its ranks. At the age of 15 years old Carl Knowles fought his first fight in Lindale, Georgia and received $10.00 for his losing effort… (“You see Carl did not know you could not sit down in the ring if you became weary”). In the audience that night was a gentleman form Cincinnati named Dr. B.F Haag who was living in Rome at the time. Dr. Haag had been associated with boxers and the fight game in Cincinnati. He took Carl Knowles in hand and into a period of training. In a very few years Carl had beating all comers in this area and so it was “on the road” to seek competition. Not many years went by before Carl Knowles was recognized as the Southern Middleweight Champion. After beating all middleweights he could get matches with, Carl moved in the Light Heavyweight division. This division cried him through Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma…then on to Chicago, Cincinnati, and Dayton, Ohio, New Haven and Bridgeport Conn. and then to the dream spot of every fighter…Madison Square Garden in New York. At this time Maxie Rosenbloom was the Lightheavy weight king and the #2 man was Joe Knight.  Carl Knowles fought Joe Knight twice, losing on decisions both times.  Carl Knowles was now ranked the 7th Lightheavy Weight boxer in the world. 

Ring Magazine … the bible of the boxing world described Carl this way… “Carl Knowles may be rough and crude in his style but the 175 pound division would be better off with more like him.”

Carl Knowles brought Rome and the area its greatest boxing prestige. He retired from the ring in 1947. He met another opponent then, that gave him the toughest fight of his life…”Drink” had taken over…but the Carl Knowles won the greatest victory of his life on January 17, 1964 when he stopped drinking, and since has been a true inspiration to other men with the same problem. Carl Knowles, a real champion…in the ring and out.

 
 
Leon Culberson
1973

“If your name was Culberson, you just naturally played baseball and you played it well.” Shannon, Georgia, simply meant, in the summertime that there was plenty of action on the baseball diamond and if you went up there to play, you had to go against the tough Culberson brothers. Leon and his brothers, Maurice and J.M. , Ken, and Bedo were great on the diamond as well as the football field and the basketball courts…but baseball was their love. As high school players they excelled in all sports. Leon was named Mid-South and All State at Darlington in football and baseball. When summer came, Leon turned to semi-pro baseball with Shannon and the Tubize. 

In the early 40’s the Boston Red Sox’s signed him and he went to the various farm systems, moving to Fenway Park with the Sox in 1943. He played outfield and third base, but the outfield most of the time. His hitting averages include: 1943-272; 1944-238; 1945-275; 1946-313; 1947-238 and with Washington in 1948-172 in 12 games. 

His greatest thrill had to be being a member of the 1946 American League Champion Red Sox where he played right field and was named to the starting lineup by manager Joe Cronin. His next biggest had to the World Series home run he hit of St. Cardinal pitcher Al Brazle. Leon played in the starting lineup in Boston with such names as Johnny Pesky, Ted Williams, Rudy York, Bobby Dooerr, Don DiMaggio, Frank Higgins, and Hal Wagner. He was known in Beantown as the fastest Soxer on the squad and his timely late inning hitting clinched him a spot in Boston’s line up.

In the stretch for the American League pennant in 1946, Cronin said in the Boston Globe Newspaper that his previously little known trio from little known towns had made the Red Sox’s go. He described this trio as Leon Culberson (Shannon, GA), Don Gutteridge (Pittsburg, KS), and Joe Dobson (Durant, OK). A proven Big Leaguer on the baseball diamond, Leon Culberson brought much prestige to his community as a member of the Boston Red Sox. 

 

*Deceased

 
Mike Glenn
1978

At about 12 years old, Mike Glen stated, “My greatest ambition is to be a great baseball player.” He practiced hard in that direction and although he did not care much for basketball, he played some with his older brothers and friends. As a young baseball player in the 9-12 baseball leagues, he made the All-Star baseball team two years and once pitched a perfect game in 1968 when he struck out 14 batters. As a young basketball player in the recreation Department leagues, he made the All-Star team twice.

He entered Coosa High School where he pitched and played first base and was selected on the summer Colt League All-Star team that won the Georgia State Colt baseball title and was runner-up in the regional Colt Tournament in Vero Beach, Fla., losing the title game to the host team, Vero Beach. His interest in basketball had now grown tremendously as the following facts will tell. He scored a career total of 2,459 point playing basketball. He was named the outstanding basketball player in the News tribune Holiday Festival Basketball Tournament two straight years. In the 1973 State AA Basketball Tournament played at Georgia tech, he was named Most Outstanding Player in the tournament. His Coosa team was runner-up in the state tournament that year. He was named the Number One player on the 1973 All-State Team. upon graduation from Coosa High School, his home and traveling basketball jerseys at Coosa were permanently retired and enshrined. While at Coosa, he attained other honors as well, such as he had perfect school attendance from first through twelfth grade. During his high school days at Coosa, he made all A’s and one B and was Vice President of the Junior Class and President of the Senior Class and Math Club.

He was a University of Georgia Merit Scholar and named Exchange Clun Youth of the Month. He also received a proclamation from the City of Rome for his performance in the State AA basketball tournament in Atlanta.

Upon graduation from Coosa, he received a basketball grant-in-aid to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. In his first year he was selected on the First-Team All American basketball team. In his senior year he was a pre-season pick for All-American and named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the year. He was the Southern Illinois’ second all-time leading scorer and made the Dean’s List each year with an overall 3.5 GPA out of a perfect 4. He was the number one choice for University Division Academic All-American basketball team and was awarded a $1,500 NCAA post-graduate scholarship. He was featured in an exclusive article in Sports Illustrated and in his summers, he spent his off-time working with children with hearing disabilities. 

Mike was picked in the second round of the NBA draft by the Chicago bulls. While visiting at home, he was injured in an automobile accident that would have taken most players away from the game, receiving a fractured neck vertebra; however, this did not stop him. He worked and worked and when he thought he was ready, he reported to Chicago to their roster had no place for him, but the Buffalo Braes thought he was a man they needed and they acquired him. He played with Buffalo in the NBA, working his way back from the accident. 

 
Mike Hogan
1979

Mike began his athletic days as a youngster who had some good guidance from the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority. 

Even though life had not been too good to him as a small boy, he was blessed to find the mentorship of a man who cared, Hall of Fame member, Shag Knowles. MIke first learned football under Knowles. He took advantage of the good things that Knowles had to offer. Mike has to be one of the hardest hitters that ever buttoned a helmet on. 

Mike played many times with injuries that would have kept most on the bench. But Mike loved the challenge of hard nose play. He loved the sound of leather popping leather. He reached the coveted 1,000 yard club in 1971 at East Rome when he was a senior and was also named to the All-State High School football team. Joe Morrison, former New York Giant great, was coaching at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and lured Mike to this college. As a freshman and junior there he gained over 400 yards. As a senior in college he rushed for 756 yards in 158 carries. He was a three year letterman in Chattanooga. Then came the Pro Draft where Mike didn’t have to wait long. He was a 9th round draft choice of the Philadelphia Eagles. He immediately let it be known that he had come to play and to stay. In his first year with the eagles he was the team’s leading ground gainer with 561 yards and 123 carried. In his second year, again the Eagles leading rusher with 546 yards in 155 carries and in those two seasons he missed 8 and half games because of injuries. 

In 1978, he was the second leading rusher for Philadelphia with 607 yards rushing. He also developed into a fine Pro pass catcher, in that, in the 1978 season he caught 29 passes and scored 5 touchdowns.

As a rookie this young man had the pleasure of enjoying 100 yard rushing games against the Washington Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks. In 1977, he started in all 12 games in which he played and started as fullback. 

 
Pete Cole
1981

Pete Cole was born in Dallas, Georgia in Paulding County, July 30, 1908. He was one of eight children, five brothers and two sisters. Most of his childhood and several adult years were spent in Rome. 

Pete excelled in two pro sports, Boxing and Golf. He drew his most acclaim in sports in the boxing rings and was labeled as a “pugilistic marvel.” The hardest hitting light weight ever seen in Southern rings. A sportswriter once said of our inductee, “pandemonium reigns when he fights, he does not box, he is a fighter of the old school, the killer kind, who makes every round in every bout a battle. “ He got his start in professional boxing in 1924 at the age of seventeen. 

In his first year the Atlanta newspaper tabbed him as the best lightweight fighter in the south. In that first year he engaged in 28 bouts. Winning 22, took 5 draws and was defeated only once. During his boxing career, our inductee fought in three different classes, bantam, welter, and lightweight. It was in the welterweight class that he achieved his highest honor. As a welterweight, he won his first thirty fights and one time, posted a forty-seven win, one loss mark. He was also crowned the Southern Welterweight Champion of the United States by defeating Larry Avera in Greenville, South Carolina in 1927.

A shot at the World Championship in the lightweight division against champ Sammy Mandell was in the talking stages, but never took place and Mandell retired from the ring undefeated.

During his professional boxing career, he fought 85 fights winning almost all by knockouts. It was J.H. “Herbert” Lam, Cole’s boxing manager that got him interested in what would become his second pro sport, Golf, and as in boxing, he was successful. 

In 1943, he turned pro golfer and became the professional at Coosa Country Club, a post he held for 3 years. Later he became the superintendent at Druid Hills Golf course. For thirty years he was employed by the City of Atlanta as a golf pro for various municipal courses and was honored as a life member of the PGA. Some of his golf accomplishments include: a score of 65 at North Fulton, a score that been bested by only one other player and that is the famous Jimmy Demaret. 

He set the course record of 26, 10 under par at both Piedmont and Candler Park. He also played on the PGA tour for four years. 

 
Douglas A. McFalls
1983

He came from the hills of North Georgia to write his name in sports annals of his high school, a fine preparatory school and a major college. He brought high prestige to this area and his induction in the Rome-Floyd County Sports Hall of Fame is certainly overdue.

While a student at Model High School in the late 50’s he attained high honors in every sport from football, baseball, basketball and track. He was all-state in football in ’58 and ’59. Following his most successful career at Model where he earned 16 varsity letters. He then went on the Darlington School on the then post graduate program and immediately began to make himself known in the mid-south athletic circles. He was named All-Mid-South in ’60 and ’61 as a running back as well as a defensive back.

Upon completing the post graduate course at Darlington, this man accepted grant in aid to play football at the University of Georgia where he played varsity football for three years. He was co-captain of the Georgia team that upset Alabama in the closing seconds of a nationally televised game, and this same team upset a highly touted Michigan team 15-7. He was selected all SEC in the Sun Bowl against Texas Tech and the great Donnie Anderson, our man and his fellow Bulldogs won in 1964. He was selected permanent captain of the Georgia team after the season and then was selected to play in the, the big college all-star game in Chicago against the Green Bay Packers. He also was selected to play in the Blue-Grey game in Montgomery, Alabama. After his illustrious college career, he was drafted by the Chicago Bears of the NFL in the 6th round and later played with the then expansion team New Orleans Saints.

Returning to his Model days for a moment, our man played on the Model baseball team that won three straight State Championships and while at Darlington, in his senior year was named most valuable back, best blocker, and most valuable player. An anonymous friend described him as a man with a positive and yet modest attitude that made him a man to admire and nice to be associated with in any field of endeavor.

 
Larry Bing
1987

Like most young men, Larry Bing began pursuing his sports interest at an early age, “testing the waters” in football, basketball and baseball.  Upon completion of junior high school, he chose to limit his personal competitive concentration to basketball and baseball.  He achieved outstanding records in both sports as a student at East Rome High School.

His venture into the world of sports began with basketball in 1960, expanding in 1961 to include football and baseball.  For the next few years he was a familiar figure at Boys Club, Little League, Pony League, Colt League and Rome Recreation Department activities.  As a youngster, he achieved all-star status in every sport he participated in.

As a member of the East Rome Gladiators basketball and baseball teams, his achievements as an accomplished and talented athlete are recorded in the pages of East Rome High School history.  He received the honor of being inducted into the East Rome High School Hall of Fame in 1969.   His athletic credits while there included lettering in baseball 1964-1968 and basketball 1966-1968.  In 1968 he was selected basketball All Floyd County and All Region 6AA.  He was also selected as All Region 6AA and All State Baseball while pitching a record 8-1 and allowing one run in 68 1/3 innings, striking out 92 and walking seven.  He recorded one no-hitter and two one-hitters. These outstanding achievements on the baseball diamond gained widespread attention among the college ranks.  However, a decision to accept a baseball scholarship from Berry College was an indication of the loyalty and love for his hometown, forever endearing him to Rome and Floyd County.

His collegiate career flourished as he continued to gain notoriety, lettering four years in baseball and one year in basketball while at Berry.  For three consecutive years, from 1970-1972, he was chosen All GIAC in baseball.   In 1971 and 1972 he was selected to the All District 25 team.  Also in 1972 he received Honorable Mention All American, Berry’s Most Valuable Player for Baseball and his name appeared on the list of Outstanding College Athletes of America.  His college career record of 27-9 includes two no-hitters and one perfect game.

After receiving his degree he spent a couple of seasons with the Atlanta Braves before returning home to begin a distinguished coaching career which would soon earn him the same respect he had known as an athlete.  As head coach of the Cave Spring High School basketball team, he was named Region 6A Coach of the Year in 1979, 1980 and 1981.  The Georgia High School Association honored Bing as Baseball Coach of the Year in 1981 and 1982.  He was also named Rome News Tribune Coach of the Year in 1980.

 
Bert Seagraves
1988

With a number of credits to his name after touring the United States golf circuit in 1964, ’68, and ’72, this nominee for induction into the Rome-Floyd County Sports Hall of Fame has gained national recognition in the field of professional golf. Among these early credits are an 8th place tie in the 1964 Azalea Open and 4th place winnings in the 1968 San Antonio Open competition.

Bert Seagraves embarked on a career in professional golf in 1961 and served as the Golf Pro at Rome’s Coosa Country Club. Bert attended public schools here and grew up playing the Callier Springs Golf Course. Active in a number of sports including baseball, football, and track, he was twice named low hurdles State Champion prior to graduating from Rome High School.

He was named the Georgia Golf Professional of the year in 1976 and again in 1978. Bert served as president of the Georgia Professional Golf Association for three continuous years beginning in 1976 and served on the National Professional Golf Association’s Rules Committee in 1978 and 1982. In 1983 he teamed with his son Dom to win the Georgia PGA Pro-Pro tournament completion. During this same year he was a member of the winning team for the Georgia PGA Challenge Cup, the Magnolia Cup versus the United Kingdom, and qualified for and made the cut for the Southern Open. Bert has played a major role in the careers of several nationally recognized golfers.  Under his direction Larry nelson went from beginner to professional, winning the US open in 1983.  According to an interview published in Golf Digest Magazine, Nelson credits Seagraves with making him the golfer he is today.

Many of Bert’s other pupils have entered the field of professional golf and are either on the tour or are serving as pros and assistant pros of various clubs throughout the state. Believed by many to be his finest contributions for the promotion of golf is the unselfish volunteer work with young people that otherwise might not have an opportunity to learn and enjoy the sport.

He has given countless free hours to the Jr. Golf Program. After being eligible to compete in Senior Tournaments, he qualified for and played in the 1987 Atlanta and West Palm Beach, Florida Senior PGA Tournaments and again qualified to play in the 1988 West Palm Beach Seniors competition. He was instrumental in bringing the 1985 Georgia State Men’s Amateur and 1987 Women’s State Amateur tournaments to Rome and donated many hours of service helping organize and implement plans to make these events successful.

 
Jack Pinson
1989

Jack Pinson was born on July 29, 1929, to Mr. and Mrs. John C. Pinson, Sr. The youngest of three sons, Jack and his brothers, John and James, spent their youth in Rome.  Jack graduated from Rome High in 1946, where he played varsity basketball. At the time of graduation, he was 5’9” tall and weighed a strapping 130 pounds.

Following graduation, Jack enrolled at West Georgia College where he played varsity basketball and participated in spring football practice. During his freshman year, Jack hit a growth spurt and reached his present height of 6’4”. Back in Rome for summer, Jack began playing semi-pro baseball with the Celanese team in the Textile League. Jack was hitting .400 when the plant went on strike and the team was disbanded. Yet, jack had caught someone’s attention. 

In November, 1948, Mercer Harris, scout for the St. Louis Cardinals signed Jack to a professional baseball contract. The 1949 season found Jack in Tallassee, Alabama, with the St. Louis’s Class D Georgia-Alabama farm club. The year 1950 found Jack in West Frankfort, Illinois in the Mississippi’s-Ohio Valley League. That year Jack experienced important at the plate, batting .281. More impressive were the 105 RBI’s in only 119 games. Jack led the league in triples and he hit 16 during the season.

During the late fall of 1950, Jack was called to active duty with Rome’s United States Marine Corps reserve Unit. After discharge in the summer of 1951, Jack joined Lynchburg of the Piedmont League where he was hitting .321 when his contract was purchased in mid-season by the Pocatello, Idaho team in the Big Sky League. During that year, Jack’s roommate was a young pitcher named Larry Jackson who went on to have good years with St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies.

By 1952, Jack was promoted to the Paris Texas team class B. Jack enjoyed his best year at Paris. By August, Jack was hitting .331. In one game that year, Jack was 4 for 5 with 2 home runs, 6 RBI’s and 4 runs scored.  Jack spent the 1953 season in Tyler Texas in the Texas League. The season had barley started when on May 25th Jack and three teammates equaled a record for professional baseball. Joe Campbell, Dean Stafford, Jim Kirby, and Jack combined to hit four consecutive home runs. Also that year, jack led his teams to the play-offs, stealing home off the pitcher in the season ending game. In one of the key play-off games, Jack hit a home run and a triple. A serious ankle injury ended Jack’s professional career in 1954. His former general manager, Dick King, related in later years that “Jack Pinson would be playing in the major leagues if her were playing baseball today.”

After returning to Rome, Jack played briefly, with the Rome Red Sox, a local semi-pro team. Jack christened Rome’s new Legion field by hitting the first home run there over the flag pole in center field. Jack also turned his attention to helping others pursue careers in baseball. A team of local college All-Stars he organized that summer played teams throughout the area. Jack also signed on as a part-time scout with the St. Louis Cardinals. During the next few years, Jack played on “Doc” Elliott’s-Elliott’s Sales slow pitch softball team that won the district title for 2 consecutive years. The third year, Jack helped Elliott’s Sales win the state softball championship. 

After old back and ankle injuries forced him to discontinue softball, Jack served a year managing a little league baseball team and took responsibility for the Rome Colt League. For five years, he served as director of the league. As his sons entered high school, Jack turned his attention to their activities.  For two years, the school years of 1964-65 and 1965-66, he served as president of the Gladiator club at East Rome High School. Jack later filmed East Rome Football Games, providing “expert” services from 1967 to 1971. Along with other boosters, Jack spent the winter evenings in 1966 building the field house at the school.

 

*Deceased

 
Nathaniel "Nath" McClinic
1992

The Rome, Georgia baseball fields produced a bumper crop of talent during the 1940’s and this inductee stood out as one of the finest. Nathaniel “Nath” McClinic made his initial mark on the baseball diamond while serving with the United States Army in World War II.

Nath played on the Iwo Jima Island Championship team in 1945, blending together a rare combination of power and speed from his outfield position. The final game of the ’45 season was one of his finest as Nath hit two homeruns and stole three bases. Nath moved on to the Negro Southern league in 1946 as an outfielder for the Chattanooga Choo-Choos. He remained on the squad through the middle of 1947 before being called up to the Cleveland Buckeyes of the Negro American League. The prestigious 12-team was home to some of the finest baseball talent in America and produced future Hall of Famer’s Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Satchel Paige of the St. Louis Browns, and Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants.

Nath finished his playing career with the Buckeyes in 1949 and returned to Rome where he served as player/manager for the Lindale Dragons of the Josh Gibson League. His leadership and talent helped the Dragons win the 1949 league championship. That season, Nath stole a team-high 55 bases, made the league All-Star team and managed the club to an astonishing 43-9-1 record. 

His baseball skill was not confined to the outfield as Nath also handled a starting and relief pitching role. Nath remained active in a variety of community organizations having served as vice-president of the Gladiator Club and as a Board member for the Dick Wicker Boys Home.

He served on the Board of Directors for the Open Door Home. Perhaps the highlight of his career occurred in 1991 as Nath was honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, as one of the Living Legends of the Negro League.”  The accolades continue as Rome’s own “living legend” Nath was honored at the Negro Baseball Hall of Fame in Kansas City, Missouri. His records and career highlights will remain on permanent display with the many greats of the Negro Baseball League and with the other individuals who are part of the Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame family.

 

*Deceased

 
Rocky Randall
1993

The most amazing thing about Rock Randall was he had never trained a day in his life when he began his winning streak as an amateur fighter. All that he possessed was the desire, determination, and the aggressiveness to make it and that proved to be enough.

Randall, a native Roman attended  Armuchee High School for three years and spend his last year at Johnson High School. Randall was an all around athlete throughout his high school days. He played quarterback on the football team and pitched for the softball team. Rocky also played forward in basketball when his team won Floyd County Junior Championship in 1948.

Even though he excelled in all areas of sports, Rocky’s love was with boxing. After high school, he decided to forego college, take up boxing, and hit the road in search of a ring career. Randall’s road to success began in Columbus, Georgia. Rocky had signed on with a magazine sales company in hopes of traveling around the Southern regions. In the spring of 1953, he was passing through Columbus with his magazine sales crew and saw an article in the Columbus Enquirer about some amateur boxing bouts that were to be held that night at the local arena. Rocky decided to take a chance. That night it was obvious that he had no training for the ring and knew nothing of the basic fundamentals of boxing. Rock recalls that he stood in his corner; minutes before the match was to begin, the waterboy told him to throw a lot of left hooks. Rocky replied,”What’s a left hook?”

The magazine sales crew lost the kid from Rome, Georgia that night.

Rocky was never beaten as an amateur athlete, and his aggressive straight-punching style endeared him to all that saw his fights. In 1953, Rocky won the Georgia Golden Gloves Featherweight Title and immediately jumped into the professional ranks. Having heard Tampa was a good fight town, he headed to Florida and landed the Florida Lightweight Championship Belt. During that magical year of 1953, Rocky won 34 professional fights and by the end of his professional career, he had fought in 156 professional matches.

Rocky Randall became exactly what he wanted to be. He was a successful and respected fighter. More importantly, he was well liked by fans and promoters. Rocky always loved the spotlight and the applause while in the ring.

 

*Deceased

 
William "Bill" Rucker, Sr.
1996

You have heard the saying, “Baseball is Life, and the rest is just details.” This statement rings true for this Sports Hall of Fame inductee. Born in Roswell, August 18, 1920, this gentleman came to Rome when his father relocated from Trion to pitch for the American Chatillion Corporation.

At the age of 8 he became the first bat boy for the Tubize baseball Club. He kept bats for the team until he reached the age of 15 when he joined the “Ragged Romans” Baseball Club. His team, sponsored by the American Legion, went on to compete for the Georgia Championships in Macon and the region Championship in Atlanta, playing at Ponce de Leon Park, home of the Atlanta Crackers.

Bill was encouraged to play pro baseball by his uncle, Nap Rucker, who had played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and signed a contract to play with the Atlanta Crackers Organization. Bill’s first assignment was in Cordele, playing in the Georgia-Florida League. The following year he was assigned to a Waycross, Georgia team. Even though he was away playing ball, home was always close to his heart. When word reached him that things were not going well there, he headed back.

In Rome again, he continued to play semi-pro baseball for Tubize and in 1939 they defeated Lindale and Winter Park Florida to earn a trip to the national Finals in Wichita, Kansas. In 1941 Bill was the top vote getter in the North-west Georgia All-Star Game.

In 1943, bill Rucker was named manager of the Tubize Baseball Club and remained manager until 1945 when he answered the call of his country and entered the Armed Forces. He continued to play baseball; this time on the Camp Roberson, Arkansas Team with other Rome natives. Bill served thirteen months as a paratrooper, and returned home to continue his baseball career.

After being released by Atlanta, he signed with Anniston, Alabama in the Southeastern League. He was assigned to Newnan and from there was sold to Carrollton where he took over as the manager of the team. Bill’s love was, “managing these kids who were trying to break into Major League Baseball.” Some did! Of the great moments in his life, Bill recalls watching Babe Ruth homer in Atlanta, as the Yankees passed through on their way to New York. He recalls playing against some of the greats, like Eddie Stankey and Bob Hasty who played for Connie Mack.

Bill continued to play baseball through 1950 where he finished his career in Alexander City, Alabama. Bill went on to work for Central of Georgia railroad, Lockheed Corporation, Georgia School for the Deaf, and others. However, no public job could ever rival his love for baseball.

 

*Deceased

 
Gary York
1998

Having begun his athletic career with youth league baseball in Rome and Floyd County, Gary York turned his love of sports into a profession. Voted Most Valuable Player in baseball for 1960, ’61, and ’62, York was also named Most Valuable Offensive Player in football and basketball during his years at Model High School.

Turning down a contract to play professional baseball for the Boston red Sox, York entered Darlington School and participated in basketball and baseball. At Darlington, York was named the All Mid-South Player in both sports and most valuable player in baseball. York entered West Georgia College in 1964, where he played baseball for 2 years and received GIAC honors.

In 1965, he was the #12 pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in the first ever professional baseball draft. During four year as a player and 2 years as a coach, York was on several all-star teams. Upon leaving professional baseball in 1971, York returned to his hometown and began teaching and coaching at Model High School.

During 19 successful years at Model, York received many honors and served as the assistant football coach to the 1979 Championship team. He also led several baseball teams to regional titles. In 1983, he became a part-time scout for the Chicago Cubs and was responsible for signing several Georgia players to the team. From 1990-1993, York was a full-time scout for the Detroit Tigers and was responsible for the signing of 20 players from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

 Four of these players went on to play in the major leagues.  York left his post with the Tigers in 1993 for a teaching position at Pepperell High School. In 1996, he returned to professional baseball as a scout for the New York Yankees and recruited the #1 player for the Yankees World Series Championship. In 1997, he returned to the Detroit Tigers organization, recruiting from the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Taking time from his busy occupation to help others, York has conducted numerous youth baseball clinics in Rome and Floyd County. He has been honored as the guest speaker to clinic groups throughout the South and has devoted his time to working with baseball teams from the area.

 
Walt Attaway
2000

From basketball and baseball to tennis and golf, the next Hall of Fame inductee has been a major contributor to the sports and education scene of Floyd County and Shorter College. As a four-year letterman at Howard College, Walt Attaway helped lead the Bulldogs’ team to a 110-10 win-lose record while compiling a 112-8 singles record as they were the number-one team in Alabama.

In 1973, he won the City-County Adult Championships in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. This was the first time one individual had ever won all three prestigious titles.

Walt Attaway came to Rome as the Assistant Basketball Coach, Tennis Coach, Intramural Director, and Physical Education Instructor for Shorter College in 1963. In 1966, he left Shorter for a brief period to assume duties as the Superintendent for Parks and Recreation in Rome and Floyd County. He returned to Shorter College in 1969 as the Tennis Coach, Intramural Director, and Head of Physical Education. He was soon promoted to Assistant Professor of Physical Education and has been involved with all ports programs offered through the college.

In 1978, Coach Attaway began Shorter College tennis Camps, a program that is still in existence today. Throughout his tenure at Shorter, Coach Attaway has amassed numerous honors through the tennis program, including being named GAC “Coach of the Year” 15 times and District “Coach of the Year” 4 times.

Coach Attaway holds four District 25 titles and has made 24 trips to the NAIA nationals for men and women’s tennis.

In 1998, Coach Attaway was ranked #3 in the nation among all four-year Coaches in Divisions 1, 2, and 3 of the NCAA and the NAIA. In 1999, he led Shorter’s men’s team to a 25-2 record, a GAC championship, and a national ranking of #7. Coach Attaway was also appointed Tennis Chairman for NAIA Region 13 and named NAIA National Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year, an honor that is bestowed by peers, fellow coaches, and other professionals. Attaway has coached 16 All-American in Tennis and 7 Academic All-Americans, an honor that shows his dedication to his partnership of education with athletics.

Coach Attaway is the winningest coach in NAIA history for men’s tennis.

 

*Deceased

 
Craig Jones
2001

When one looks at the outstanding play of an athlete, one seldom looks beyond the athlete to the coach who prepared that athlete and helped direct their course to success. Craig Jones has trained countless students from the beginner level to a national ranking in the sport of tennis. As a testament to his coaching ability, over 50 athletic scholarships, from Princeton to Georgia Tech, have been awarded to his students.

Craig A. Jones has devoted his professional career to preparing tennis hopefuls. Beginning in 1983, as the Director of Tennis for the Coosa Country Club, Craig set out to make a difference. Public notoriety of his personal commitment began in 1986 when Craig earned the Panama Jam Best Tournament for Georgia award and then in 1987 earning Pro-of-the-Year for the State of Georgia.

By 1990, his accomplishments in the tennis world earned him the position of Junior Davis Cup team Coach which he held both in 1990 and 1991. Serving as a scout and coach for the USTA Area Training Center, he led the 1992, 1993, and 1994 Intersectional/National team for Boys 18’s to the rank of second in the nation, a task which earned him 1993 Pro-of-the-Year honors for Georgia and Junior Pro-of-the-Year honors for Georgia in 1994. Continuing this streak, the Southern Tennis Association selected Craig as the Intersectional/Nationals Coach for the Boys 18’s as well as a Federation Cup Coach from 1995-1999.

In 1997 Craig was chosen as a High Performance Coach, an honor given by USTA to the top twenty coaches in the United States.

Craig completed this decade of dominance as the Federation Cup Coach, the USTA Training Center Coach, and as Florida Southern Region Coach.

 
Ray Donaldson
2004

Ray Donaldson was the first African American to play center in the NFL, is a six-time Pro Bowl participant, a 17-year pro football veteran and a potential hall of famer.  Ray grew up in Rome, graduated from East Rome High and went on the star at the University of Georgia before being drafted as the 32nd pick overall in 1980 by the Baltimore Colts.

Donaldson started with the Baltimore/Indianapolis colts for 12 years before making a two-year stop in Seattle, and finishing his career with the Dallas Cowboys. During this time he blocked for hall-of-famer Eric Dickerson and Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher with whom he won a Super Bowl in 1996.

Few in the history of the Indianapolis Colts have played as long as Ray Donaldson. Few, too, have played as well. Donaldson was one of the very few players who stayed with the team when it moved from Baltimore in 1984. Including the four season in Baltimore, Ray played with the Colts for 13 seasons before the team released him in February of 1993. At that time, he ranked third in the franchise history in games played (184) behind only quarterback John Unitas (221) and punter David Lee (188).

Donaldson, considered one of the NFL’s best run-blockers during his career, was voted to four consecutive Pro Bowls, between 1986-1989, and started the last three.  He also started 168 games, including a streak of 152 non-strike games from 1981 until he sustained a broken bone in the third game of the 1991 season.  According to the Professional Football Researcher’s Association, Ray Donaldson is considered a key factor in the “worst to first” turnaround for the Indianapolis Colts between 1986 and 1987.

Also, according to the Association, “the key to the Colts turning a 3-13 record around to a 9-6 record was the solid offensive line led by Center Ray Donaldson.” Soon after his release from the Colts, where he signed as a free agent with the Seattle Seahawks. He played there for two seasons before signing as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys, where he was the starting center on the Cowboys’ 1995 Super Bowl Championship Team.

Ray Donaldson is one of only 32 players in the NFL history who have played in at least 220 games. According to Coach Jerry Sharp, Ray’s East Rome high School coach, “this 220-game record is on within itself, seeing how most players only last about 5-6years in the NFL. Ray was very fortunate to achieve such a prestigious run in the NFL.”

While at East Rome High School, Ray was a three-sport letterman in baseball, basketball, and football, and performed as an outstanding linebacker. He was a High School All-American, and his jersey was retired after his career at East Rome ended. After growing up in local baseball and basketball programs, ray certainly utilized his love of sports to make a fine career himself.  According to Coach Sharp, “Ray was one of the best athletes we ever had at East Rome High School. He distinguished himself by going on into professional athletics, and we are all very proud of his accomplishments for himself, his family, and his hometown of Rome, Georgia.” It is with great honor and celebrations that we welcome Ray Donaldson into the Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame.

 
Henley Gray
2004

From 1964 through 1977, Henley Gray participated in 374 NASCAR races. Racing full time all across the United States, he had 55 top-ten finishes, with a career high 4th place finish in the annual point’s totals in 1996.

His lifetime stats as a driver include: 374 starts, 76,045 laps drive, 66,054 miles driven, and $256,687 winnings. In 1996, his 4th place point’s finish was 1 place behind Richard Petty, and includes 3rd in laps completed and 3rd in miles driven.

Henley became even better known as a car owner, providing cars to drivers including Net Jarrett, Coo Coo Marlin, G.C. Spencer, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Buddy Baker, Benny Parsons, and Donnie Allison.

His lifetime stats as an owner included 476 starts, 101 top-ten finishes, and $612,140 in winnings. As Henley is quick to point out though all the money won went straight back into the car.

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Henley left Rome in the early 1950’s for a brief stay in the military and came back ready to work on and with cars. He began racing in the early 1960’s, starting his first NASCAR race in a ford sedan sponsored by Julian Harrison Ford, then went on to race for other sponsors, including Belden Asphalt  out of Michigan. Henley stopped getting behind the wheel of a racecar at the age of 45, when he wrecked at the Michigan International Speedway. He was running about 156 miles per hour and hit a concrete wall, sending him to the hospital for a period of about 3 months. According to Henley’s recollection, Richard Petty was the first driver to visit him in the hospital, as Henley and Petty’s teams and families raced and stayed together throughout the racing circuits for years.

In 1977, during Henley’s stay in the hospital, newcomer Dale Earnhardt made only one start in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. He raced the #19 Beldon Asphalt Chevy Malibu for owner Henley Gray at eh Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 9. There are now 24,716 replica productions of this car being sold for $49.99 in collectible stores today. Henley is also seen frequently on a history video production of NASCAR, filmed at the 1976 Carolina 500, showing teams preparing to race and featuring cars of drivers of the day, including Henley Gray, Bobby Isaac, Benny Parsons, and Darrell Waltrip. According to Henley, a memorable “first” of his NASCAR experience came as he was the first driver to qualify on the track at Rockingham when it opened on October 31, 1965. Over thirty years ago, the Rome News-Tribune reported on Henley’s preparations for the Winston 500 stock car race in Talladega, Alabama, Henley and his racing team were hoping their modified Buick would be one of the 42 cars on the starting line at eh 2.6-mile oval track, said to the world’s fastest. Henley’s car did qualify-with an average speed of 187.55 miles per hour.

Henley Gray truly lived his dream of competing on the national basis as a full-time NASCAR driver.

 
Nathaniel "Nat" Hudson
2004

At West Rome high school, Nathaniel “Nat” Hudson played football for four year.  He achieved a state championship title in wrestling and placed 3rd and 4th in state track and field. 

He went on to the University of Georgia, playing Offensive Guard on the 1980 National Championship team along with teammates Herschel walker and “Buck” Belue. While at UGA, Nat lettered four years and was named the Team Captain during his senior year. Nat won the Jacob Blocking award as the SEC’s outstanding blocker, earned Associated Press and Sporting news honorable mention All-American honors, and was selected first team all-SEC by UP, a college and pro-football newsweekly and SEC sports journal.

“Athletically, he was the best lineman we had at Georgia”, said Roman Charles Smith, who played on the national championship team with Hudson. “He was big, strong, and quick with lots of endurance. He ran like a linebacker.” Nat left UGA in favor of the NFL Draft in 1981 as a six round draft pick by the New Orleans Saints.

During his tenure with the Saints he blocked for Archie Manning and played in all 16 games of season. A year later he rejoined college teammate Ray Donaldson in Baltimore, where Nat once again filled the offensive guard position, playing in just two games before being injured.

Nat was traded to Tampa Bay in 1984 where he also started as an offensive guard. I 1986, Nat left the league for the USFL and played for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Most notably, Nat served as team captain to the Georgia Bulldogs in the 1980 Sugar Bowl and went on to win the championship. Freshman tailback Herschel Walker was part of the team and Georgia moved to the top of the poll ladder after they were virtually unranked prior to the season.

One story on the website, “Between the Hedges,” details Nate’s dedication to the team reading…”One pass play lost a yard and another was incomplete, setting up a third-and-eleven from the Georgia 7. It was then that quarterback Buck Belue rolled back into his own end zone under pressure, got a key block from guard Nat Hudson and fired a strike to flanker Lindsay Scott, who appeared to be surrounded by Gators bear his own 25-yard line. But Scott took advantage of the Florida safety Tim Groves falling down, cut toward the Georgia bench and outraced the Gator pursuers down the sidelines for a miraculous 93-yard touchdown. Belue’s two-point conversion pass to Scott was incomplete, but Georgia led 26-21.”

Nat’s success with the Dawgs landed him on the All SEC Team as Offensive Guard.  A write-up found online begins, “Blue collar, hard-working, determined.” No three adjectives better describe the 1980 Georgia Bulldogs who defeated Notre Dame 17-10 to win the school’s last national championship. With players like Frank Ros, Scott Woerner, Jeff Hipp, Nat Hudson, and Eddie “Meat Cleaver” Weaver, et al. Georgia’s 1980 squad will always hold a special place in the hearts of the Bulldog nation.”

Larry Kinnebrew
2004
 

Lettering in football, track and field, and wrestling and becoming a state champion in discus, shot put, and the 100-yard dash helped Larry Kinnebrew earn the title of East Rome High’s Top Athlete. His football career, however, has earned him the recognition as being one of the top linemen and defensive players in the NFL.

Born in 1959 to Eddie and Doris Kinnebrew, Larry participated in numerous sports and starred at east Rome as fullback and defensive linebacker. He rushed for 892 yards on 95 carries with an average of 9.4 yards per carry during his high school career. Larry helped lead his team to the class 7AA State Championship in 1978, after being named Lineman of the Year by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, named to the Class A All-State team, named Rome News-Tribune Player of the Year, and named to Parade Magazine’s high School All American Linebacker team, all in the year 1977.

In track and field, all while standing 6’2” and 255 pounds, Larry ran the 100-yard dash in 9.5 seconds, becoming the largest Georgia athlete to win state 100-yard dash title. Larry won the Class AA 100-yard dash in 1977, competed against Hershel Walker in the 100-yard dash in 1978, and won, and won state titles in shot put and discus as well.

Twice Larry was awarded the Herman J. Stegman trophy at state track meets for scoring the most points in his classification. With a few minutes to spare in his busy schedule, Larry also won 7 state titles in wrestling in the unlimited weight class.

From East Rome Larry went to Tennessee State University in Nashville where he ranked 3rd in Career rushing yardage with 1,673 yards. Larry then graduated to the national Football League, being the 6th round draft choice in 1983 by the Cincinnati Bengals. Larry led the team in rushing twice during his five seasons and scored 36 career touchdowns.

Leaving Cincinnati for Buffalo, Larry played form 1989-1991 with the bills, averaging 4.5 yards per carry with 44 touchdowns. As a receiver, he gained 660 yards on 70 catches for an average yardage of 9.4 with 3 touchdowns.

Larry retired from the NFL in 1993 and returned to Rome in 1994 where he has coached for the Youth Football program through the Parks and Recreation Authority and the boys and Girls Club. He also served as a volunteer caterer for the national Youth Sports Program at Floyd College and Rome High School.

 
George "Randy" Payne
2005

George Randle Payne, Sr. was reared with racing on his mind. From his youth he was taught to build and rebuild automobiles and entered his first semi-professional race at the age of fourteen.

While growing up in Rome, Georgia, Randy Payne, Sr. attended Darlington School graduating in 1957 from Rome High School. While enrolled in college at Auburn University, Payne’s father, “Chief”, offered his son a partnership in his thriving car dealership. Business was brisk and Chief needed his son’s charismatic personality and innovative ways.

Back in 1956, Randy won the honor of being the United States junior Chamber of Commerce Safe Driving Rodeo Champion; in late 1960’s, Lee Iacocca selected Randy to represent Ford Motor Company in their new division of racecars for years. “Mr. Big Stuff,” as friends and peers affectionately called him, fits right into the sometimes dangerous but always glamorous world of auto racing. As a driver and seminar spokesperson for the Drag Racing Division of Ford Motor Company, Randy spent years speaking to others and promoting the sport of drag racing.

In 1969, Randy won every event he entered while racing for Ford Motor Company both nationally and internationally. He won the first ever drag race held in Canada, and won the first national race of Ford Motor Company at Pomona Raceway, setting a new record for speed. In 1970, 1971, and 1972, Car Craft magazine nominated his as “Driver of the Year” in pro-stock and super stock divisions. Randy won 73% of all his races, according to the National Hot Rod Association, holds 18 NHRA national track records for performance and was inducted into the National Hot Rod Association Hall of Fame in 1998.

Randy is considered a legend in drag racing from his spectacular engines to creative abilities. In 2005, Randy was inducted into the East Coast Drag Racing Hall of Fame in Henderson, North Carolina; he was also part of 20 races, both national events and point’s meets, to celebrate his 50th consecutive year of racing.

Randy and son Butch shared the driver’s seat for the 2005 racing Mustangs which are being built by Pure Power, who fully customized the cars to appear as the 1970 model racecars did.

 
Ken Irvin
2009

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 Ken Irvin started his professional football career in Buffalo, New York in 1995, but his athletic ability is rooted in Rome, Georgia where he first began his on the field achievements. Irvin is a three sport Letterman at Pepperell High School for football, basketball and track. He served as the Captain of Pepperell Football, where he helped lead his football team to the 1980 State Championship. 

Irvin went on to play for Memphis State University as a four year college starter at defensive back under a full athletic scholarship. He made numerous achievements including Sports Illustrated Player of the Week, 1994 Defensive Player of the Year and 1994 Team MVP.  Irvin set an NCAA record by blocking four punts in one game against Arkansas.
After graduating college, Irvin began a successful 11 year professional career starting with the Buffalo Bills where he played for seven seasons as corner back. Irvin has been admired for his athletic ability and was once described as, “one of the Buffalo Bills best conditioned athletes”.
In 2002 he played a season with the New Orleans Saints, and in 2003 joined the Minnesota Vikings where he played for three seasons. Off the field, Irvin supported many charities and received the Athletes in Action Award in 2002.  He was also awarded the Byron Wizzard Humanitarian Award in 2004 and created the Antonio Hall Jr. Scholarship Fund after the passing of his high school team mate Antonio Hall.   

In addition to Irvin’s accomplishments on the field, he has been admired for his rare, mature perspective and his spirit as a modest, soft-spoken athlete.  

Irvin attributes his success to his mother who gave him a solid foundation in values and instilled in him patience and hard work. Irvin explained his humbleness during an interview as a starting corner for the Buffalo Bills when he said, “I never take anything for granted.  If you prepare for the worst, you give yourself the best.” It is this spirit that enabled Irvin to rise to the top and to excel professionally. Irvin’s accomplishments are attributed not only to skill developed through hard work, but also to his tremendous depth of character.

 
Caroline Peek Blaylock
2011

There are many athletes that excel in one or maybe two sports. It is rare however for an athlete to excel in every sport; this is the case of Caroline Peek Blaylock.  Caroline’s love for sports started young where she competed in boy’s soccer, boy’s basketball, swimming, diving and gymnastics. In Little League baseball, she was the only girl in the league. She was the only girl on Darlington’s 23-member golf team and alternated at the Number 1 spot on the team where she averaged 225 yards per drive.  

While at Darlington, she earned 16 varsity letters, set four school records in basketball and set three in track.  She once borrowed a tennis racket as a sophomore to fill in for a suspended player and earned a letter while helping the team reach the state quarterfinals.  

Peek was recruited by over 40 colleges with scholarship offers. She selected Furman University and signed a 4 year golf scholarship worth $125,000. At Furman, she was a three-time NCAA All-American and a three-time NCAA long drive champion. She was honored as Southern Conference Female Athlete of the Year and Southern Conference Player of the Year.  Twice she finished in the top six at NCAA Championships.  She also represented the United States in the U.S.A. versus Japan Goodwill Matches in 1994. After graduating from Furman in 1995, Blaylock turned professional. At age 19 she competed in the US Women’s Open.  The next year she competed in the British Women’s Open.

She is a 2 year member of the Ladies European Tour; she finished in the Top Ten twice at Evian Masters, she is a 3 time winner of the Yamaha Georgia Women’s Open and an LPGA Futures Tour Tournament Winner.  Two years running, she led the LPGA Tour as the Driving Distance Leader.  As a five year member of the LPGA Tour, she posted a career-best finish in 4th place at the LPGA ShopRite classic. 

Blaylock returned to Darlington in 2002 to serves as head of Register House.  Caroline has always had a drive fueled by a quiet inner strength and is one of the most versatile athletes, male or female ever known.

 
Wayne Minshew
2011

 Wayne Minshew has had a diverse sports career starting out as a professional baseball player and then moving into journalism.  Wayne began pursuing both baseball and journalism at the University of Georgia. While at UGA, Wayne set the school record for lowest earned run average in a season (1.02 ERA) – a mark that still stands more than 50 years later.  Wayne allowed only five earned runs in 44 innings pitched.  His 2.50 career earned run average still ranks fifth best in school history. 

In 1958, after graduating from UGA, Wayne played a year of pro ball at Wytheville, Virginia where he had four hits in his first professional game and batted a .455. In 1959, Wayne began to slowly transition off the field into sports journalism while still playing baseball on the side.  He signed a contract with Sally League Jacksonville Jets and pitched five shutout innings against Los Angeles Dodgers farm club.  Wayne wrote the game story and the event received national coverage. 

In 1965, Wayne started working for the Atlanta Constitution where he became the first Atlanta Braves “beat” writer. Wayne scored numerous scoops with baseball writing, including Ted Turner’s decision to purchase the Braves. Wayne served as the President of the Atlanta chapter of Baseball Writers Association of America; he was the Atlanta correspondent for The Sporting News, then known as “the baseball bible” and he covered three World Series. After 13 years with the Atlanta Constitution, Wayne transitioned once more into PR where he continued to serve the world of baseball as the Director of Public Relations for the Atlanta Braves. Wayne edited the award-winning “Braves Illustrated”.

Wayne has used his many talents to support his community. He served on the Atlanta Paralympics Organizing Committee where he was the publisher and editor of the first-ever media guide for the Paralympics event. He volunteer for the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame where he wrote a research paper used by architects to design and construct the museum in Macon, Georgia. He has volunteered for many local organizations including Red Cross and Friends of the Library.

 
Lamar Wright
2013

Lamar Wright started his baseball career pitching for Pepperell High School and was on the State Championship team in 1970. Lamar Pitched 1 perfect game in regionals and pitched 1 no-hitter in the semi-finals.
In college, Lamar Wright, was a three-time All-GIAC and District 25 selection in baseball, holds Shorter's all-time career wins mark with 45 while he lost just 8 games during his career. He is a two-time All-Area 5 pick, posted 500 career strikeouts to lead all Shorter players and led the NAIA with 172 strikeouts in 1974, the same season that he was honored as an NAIA All American. Wright's teams won the 1971, 1973 and 1974 conference championships and the 1974 District 25 title.
After leaving Shorter to go pro, Shorter Coach Hamp Alexander said that Shorter was attempting to sign two pitchers, just to replace Lamar. 
Wright was drafted by the California Angels and ultimately reached the AAA level. Wright made rapid strides through the Angels organization in less than two full seasons.  He was signed upon graduation in June of 1974 from Shorter College and assigned to the rookie league at Idaho Falls.  After five games he advanced to Class A at Quad Cities. In 1975 he started at Salinas, but quickly earned a promotion to Double A at El Paso. His total of 43 appearances was third best in the farm system. 
In 1975, Wright played in the Winter League in Mexico and had a 13-3, ERA 1.39 record. In 1976, Wright was selected to play in Caribbean World Series.
Wright has been an active business man in the Rome community as owner of the Lamar Wright All-State Insurance agency. He coached youth baseball for 16 years.  In 2002, Wright was inducted into Shorter College Athletic Hall of Fame.

 
Jerome Webb
2014

 Undoubtedly one of the best all-around athletes to ever play at Model High School, Jerome earned varsity letters in football, basketball, baseball and track each of his four years in high school. He played for two state champion football teams and was named first team all-state in football in 1954 and 55. In 1956 he received the WRGA Happy Quarles award for Rome and Floyd county athlete of the year. Jerome was inducted into the Model High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1991. 

After high-school, Jerome signed a grant in aid with the University of Georgia to play football, once enrolled the grant changed to basketball. He was a member of the UGA freshman basketball team before leaving to sign a professional baseball contract with the Cleveland Indians.

He played six seasons, 1957-1962, in the Indians minor league system – three being all-star seasons (1958, 1960, 1961). In 1958 with Cocoa, FL in the Florida State League he had 20 HR, 3 triples, 22 doubles and 84 RBI with a. 266 avg. while playing every inning of a 140 game schedule. In 1960 with Burlington, NC in the Carolina League he had 21 HR, 5 triples, 24 doubles and 89 RBI with a .276 avg. In 1961with Reading, PA in the Eastern League he had 13 HR, 6 triples, 22 doubles and 104 RBI with a. 266 avg. while playing every inning of a 140 game schedule.         

During spring training in 1959 he was listed as one of Cleveland's top 15 minor league prospects. Signing endorsement contracts with Topps Bubble Gum, Rawlings Sporting Goods, and Louisville Slugger.

Today Jerome stays connected to the game by following the high school and travel ball career of grandson Alex Webb, and scouting greater Atlanta and North Georgia for the Philadelphia Phillies

 
Mike Dean
2015

 Mike Dean graduated from Coosa High School in 2001; while attending Coosa he played basketball for the Eagles. During his junior season at Coosa in 2000, Dean led the Eagles to the Class AA state Final Four and was named the Rome News-Tribune Player of the Year and to the all-state team. He repeated that feat his senior season, leading Coosa to the state Elite Eight after averaging 31.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and six assists a game.

Playing only two years at Coosa; Dean was rated the #18 shooting guard in the nation out of high school by the Sporting News and scored over 1,600 points; the Eagles posted a 51-5 record during that span.

Dean began his college career at the University of Georgia where he played in 23 games as a freshman averaging 1.8 points and 0.4 rebounds in 6.5 minutes a contest. As a sophomore he played in 6 games at Georgia before making the decision to transfer to Middle Tennessee State. As a junior at Middle Tennessee he averaged a team-high 16.2 points and 4.1 rebounds. He ranked second in the league in three-point field goal percentage and fifth in three-point field goals made. In his 23 game season he registered six 20-point games and led the team in scoring 11 times. As a senior Dean lead his team in scoring 14.4 ppg while averaging 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists. At Middle Tennessee Dean earned third team All-Sun Belt Conference honors as a senior and earned Second Team honors as a junior; he ranks as Middle Tennessee’s fifth all-time leader in three-point field goals made.

After college, Dean continued his basketball career in the minor leagues – ABA, WBA, CBA and the NBADL; which included his home teams the Rome Rage and Rome Gladiators. 

He has also played in several countries including Germany, Poland, Venezuela, Canada and Mexico. While playing for the East Kentucky Miners Dean joined names such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabber with a game for the ages, scoring 50 points and 10 assists against the West Virginia Wild – he is one of only six players since 1975 to reach such an extraordinary accomplishment.  Dean is currently playing in the Eastern Basketball Alliance for the Marietta Tarantulas and in March will leave for Mexico to continue his basketball career.

 
Bernard Holsey
2015

Bernard Holsey, was a three year starter in both basketball and football; lettering in both sports at Coosa High School. Currently Holsey holds the 6th all-time leading rebounder for Coosa. As a senior, he was nominated for all area and all state in football and played in the North South All Star game. During his final football game at Coosa, Holsey returned a kickoff for 90 yards and Coosa took home the win that night.

After High School, Holsey received a football scholarship to Duke University. Playing defensive tackle he lettered all four years while at Duke. As a junior the Blue Devils went 8-4 and played in the Hall of Fame Bowl. He posted 118 total tackles with 3.5 quarterback sacks and 13 tackles-for-loss from his defensive tackle position. In 1996 he graduated from Duke with a sociology degree.

In 1996 Holsey began his seven year NFL career by signing as a free agent with the New York Giants.  In 1998 the New York Giants upset the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos and clinched the NFC Conference title; this was Holsey’s first championship of any kind.  After leaving the Giants, Hosley played for the Indianapolis Colts; one of his most memorable moments was during this time – he returned a fumble for 46 yards scoring a touchdown on Monday Night Football. In 2002 he played for the New England Patriots and in 2003 started all 16 games with the Washington Redskins; he finished the season with 27 tackles, 4 assists and 2.5 sacks.  During his seven-year career, Holsey recorded 98 tackles, nine sacks and two passes defended. After a successful NFL career Holsey played in the Arena Football League.

 
Chris Jefts
2017

A minor league pitcher, college coach and scout, our next inductee started his career as a 7th round pick for the Chicago White Sox in the 1984 amateur draft out of high school; he played for the White Sox, Appleton and Peninsula during his time with the White Sox organization. Overall in his career he was 21-20 with a 4.04 ERA in 57 minor league games, all but four of them were starts. He allowed 367 hits and 123 walks in 337 1/3 innings while striking out 209 batters.

 

From 1991-95, Jefts was an assistant coach at the University of Georgia. He assisted in recruitment, instruction and academics of the players. After coaching, he was a scout for the Cleveland Indians. During this time he discovered and identified draft-eligible players; negotiated contracts and scholarships for drafted players.

 

Today, Chris is the Regional Director of Leadership and major gifts for the University of Georgia.  

Johnny Tutt
2017
 

A graduate of East Rome High School, Johnny Tutt lettered in all four sports his senior year: football, basketball, baseball and track and field.

 

While a star in all areas, he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of high school but went on to attend Auburn University on a baseball and football scholarship. Lettering both his freshman and sophomore years in baseball, he was named to the SEC All – tournament team in 1980.

 

In 1981, he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 8th round and played outfield 4 seasons in their organization. Before retiring he played 2 more seasons in the San Diego Padre organization as an outfielder.

 

Today Johnny lives in Indianapolis and works for Chrysler.

 
Eric Floyd
2018

A stand out during his time at West Rome High School, Eric Floyd earned his first championship as a senior in 1982 when the Chieftains won their first of four consecutive Class AA state football titles.
Floyd attended Auburn University where he started on the offensive line. While at Auburn he also played in the two Sugar Bowls, the Liberty Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and the Florida Citrus Bowl. After graduating from Auburn with a degree in education, Eric became a free agent and began his professional career in 1989 on the developmental squad for the San Diego Chargers. He played six years as an offensive lineman in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals and the Denver Broncos.

 
Jamane Spivey
2018

A graduate of Model High School, Jamane Spivey scored over 1,800 points in his career and was a three year starter. A legend during his time at Model, they honored him in 2009 by retiring his number 20 jersey.  After graduation, Spivey played at Gordon College and Southern Union before transferring to the University of New Orleans in 1994.  Spivey graduated from UNO and took his talents to the global stage, playing 15 seasons overseas. He played for teams in Bolivia, Israel, Hungary and Finland.