/William Winter, Mississippi sports fanatic

William Winter, Mississippi sports fanatic

Winter is a master of the state’s social and political history. However, Winter’s friends also know that he knows more about the state’s sporting history than any human being. Archie Manning says that William is an “encyclopedia”. “Every time I see him, I am amazed. He loves sports. His entire life has been influenced by sports in some way. He is a great man and great leader. I treasure the time that I have with him.” The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum will present the Rube Award to Winter for his lifetime contributions in Mississippi sports at its annual induction banquet. This award will be presented for the fifth consecutive year in memory of Michael Rubenstein, a long-time Jackson sportscaster who also served as the executive director of MSHOF. Winter was the chairperson of the selection process for the state’s sport hall of fame. He also emceed induction banquets almost every year for nearly two decades between the 1960s & 1970s. Winter was an Ole Miss undergraduate and served as the sports editor for the school’s student paper. Unknown fact: The 58th governor of our state grew up wanting the life of a sports journalist. Winter grew up in Grenada and read Walter Stewart’s sports columns. He also enjoyed reading The Commercial Appeal of Memphis about the Major League box scores. Winter stated that Walter Stewart was the man he wanted to be. “He was my model.” True story. Two years ago, when Ole Miss (now Mississippi State) were winning big and both were ranked among the top three nationally, a national publication asked me if I would write an extensive history of the rival schools in advance of this year’s Egg Bowl. First, I called Gov. Winter. He could have written it from memory without any research or Google. I asked Gov. Winter was interested in the 1941 Egg Bowl. This is the only game that had the SEC Championship at stake. State would win the SEC Championship if it won. Ole Miss would win the SEC Championship if State won. Winter, a student journalist who covered the game, remembered the weather and all the important plays. This included State’s winning touchdown, and an apparent Ole Miss touchdown. Officials called it back after officials determined that the Rebel runner had stepped beyond bounds. It had been 72 year. Gov. I was amazed at Winter’s memory. He said, “Well, it was the most important thing I had in my life at that time.” Things were different back then. Winter didn’t have a car so he frequently hitchhiked to games that he covered for The Mississippian. “I hitchhiked all across the South to cover games. Winter stated that although it was mostly Ole Miss games, he did recall hitchhiking to Tuscaloosa in order to see State play Alabama. Winter recalled riding on a cottonseed truck from Memphis to Memphis in 1942, for an Ole Miss Georgia game. It featured all-stars Charlie Conerly as well as Frank Sinkwich. Winter recalls, “There was a bunch of us that got onto that truck on Highway 6.” “When we reached Memphis, we couldn’t get all of the cotton lint from our clothes.” Winter clearly remembers this score. Georgia, 38-13. Winter was there to cover Boo Ferriss’s final pitching performance at Mississippi State in 1942. It was a win over Ole Miss in Oxford. Winter rode along with the writer to the C Spire Ferriss Trophy ceremonies at Cleveland seventy-four year later. He recalled that day so many years ago. Winter stated, “I was in awe back then of Boo Ferriss; I was certain he would become a Major League superstar.” “I was an Ole Miss fan, but I was a Boo Feriss fan.” When I interviewed him, I believe I called him Mr. Ferriss.” Can you picture? He was 20 years old. The future Gov. Winter, 19. Oh, but that we had an audio recording of that interview…*** Next weekend is the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame’s annual Induction Weekend, highlighted by Saturday’s Induction Banquet, July 30. Six new inductees were announced: College Football Hall of Famer Sean Brewer and Wesley Walls; football coach Jackie Sherill and Alcorn, NBA standout Larry Smith; Southern Miss women’s basketball coach Kay James and Willie Heidelburg, Southern Miss football legend (posthumously). Tickets can be purchased at msfame.com, or by calling 601-982-8264. Rick Cleveland writes a weekly sports column running Fridays at Mississippitoday.org. To support this work, you can make a regular donation to us today as we celebrate our Spring Member Drive. This will allow us to continue important work such as this story. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of all Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think.