/Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020, announced Monday, is both diverse and wildly accomplished

Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020, announced Monday, is both diverse and wildly accomplished

In alphabetical order, the six inductees are: Jerry Boatner, a record-setting high school baseball coach; Antonio McDyess, a trailblazer pro golfer; Janet Marie Smith, a renowned and trendsetting stadium architect; Larry Templeton, long-time Mississippi State athletic director; and Patrick Willis, Ole Miss and NFL football legend. Except for Willis, all are Mississippi natives. Willis, who will induct himself into the College Football Hall of Fame this December, hails from Bruceton in Tennessee. Here’s a quick overview of each: Jerry Boatner: Let’s start with this: He is the winningest Mississippi baseball coach. Boatner was a baseball player at East Central Community College, then at Delta State for Boo Ferriss. Boatner described Ferriss as “the greatest man that I ever met” and said that he is the reason he became a coach. His baseball teams won 1,202 games, and 14 state championships. He coached the girls’ softball team, winning eight state championships. Six halls of fame have already been inducted into his honor, including the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame as well as the National High School Hall of Fame. Monday’s Boatner said, “This one is the most meaningful because it’s Mississippi. Although I don’t merit it, I now stand alongside Walter Payton and Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Brett Favre, and many others. “Those guys are my heroes man.” Pete Brown: Brown was born in Port Gibson, and grew up in Jackson. He learned golf from his father, who caddied at the Jackson public course. Brown played a few holes at the Jackson public golf course as he was a teenager. The segregated courses were not allowed for African-Americans. Margaret Brown, Brown’s widow, said that Brown could play at New Orleans for three hours every Monday. He and his friends would then load their car and drive down to the course to play. Brown was able to learn to play on a high-level level. He was second African-American to be awarded a PGA Tour card in 1963 (Charles Sifford being the first). Brown was the first person of his race to win a PGA Tournament in the Waco Open a year later. He won the Andy Williams/San Diego Open in 1970 after coming from seven behind in the final round. In a sudden-death playoff, he beat Tony Jacklin, World Golf Hall of Famer. Third was Jack Nicklaus, a young golfer. Antonio McDyess, a Quitman native and 6-foot-9 McDyess is considered one of the most successful basketball players in Mississippi’s history. He was highly recruited from high school and led Alabama’s scoring and rebounding in his sophomore year. After that, he was selected for the 1995 NBA Draft. He was a member of the NBA All-Rookie team in Denver with the Nuggets. In 2001, he averaged 21 and 12 rebounds per games and was an NBA All-Star. He won a gold medal in 2000 for Team USA at the Summer Olympics in Sydney. He averaged 12 points per game over 17 NBA seasons. Janet Marie Smith is a proud graduate of Jackson Callaway High School, Mississippi State and Smith’s architecture skills have changed how people view sporting events, particularly baseball, in the 21st Century. She was the principal architect of Baltimore’s Camden Yards. This set the standard for modern stadium construction. George Will of Smith, a noted baseball writer, wrote that Smith was the chief architect for the conversion of Olympic Stadium in Atlanta to Turner Field and a redesign of Fenway Park in Boston. Now, she is the head of major renovations at Dodger Stadium. Larry Templeton: Templeton was born 55 yards from Scott Field, Mississippi State’s campus. He served the university in many capacities, including as an athletic director for 21 years. He also chaired the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee, and as a senior member of numerous other NCAA policy-making bodies. Templeton managed to make significant improvements in MSU athletics facilities, even though he had fewer resources than most of the other members of the Southeastern Conference. Templeton served many roles as associate commissioner for the SEC since he left State. Templeton will be joining his two favorite mentors, Bob Hartley, State’s long-serving sports information director, and Jack Cristil State’s legendary broadcaster. Patrick Willis: To be eligible for MSHOF Induction, an athlete must have been retired from their sport for at least five years or be over 50. Willis, who was inducted in 2015 after he retired, will induct himself in the first year of his eligibility. P-Willie (as he was fondly known) was a great slam dunk. Willis is simply one the most outstanding defensive players in Ole Miss and Mississippi football history. He was an All-SEC, All American and All American linebacker for Mississippi Rebels and then a first-team All-Pro for the San Francisco 49ers for five years. Willis is one among only two (Von Miller being the other) who have been awarded the Butkus Award for the best linebacker in college football and in professional football. In 2006, he was the SEC’s Defensive player of the year. In 2007, he was the NFL’s Defensive rookie of the year. He will be the 10th Ole Miss player in the College Football Hall of Fame in December.