THE EARLY DAYS
On July 17, 1970, a capacity crowd met for dinner at the former site of the Sheraton Motor Inn on Union Avenue to honor the original inductees into what was then the Memphis Park Commission Amateur Sports Hall of Fame..... Doris Falcinelli, Buck Miller, and Rabbit Cook for softball... Pep Marquette and Allie Prescott, Jr. for basketball... Tommy Marshall for baseball... Virgina Simmons and Alex Wellford, Sr. for tennis... Frances DeGraffenreid and Author Moore for Golf. All of the original inductees are now deceased.
Bill Weakley served as the M.C. for the first of his ten consecutive banquets that include Gene Bartow and Charlie B. Watson. Lew Chandler, Ralph Galtelli, Bobby Richardson, and Bill Weakley had approached the late Lloyd Sowell, the Assistant Superintendent of Recreation for the Memphis Park Commisson, with the idea of starting a local hall of fame for the sport of fast pitch softball.
Sowell expanded the idea to include honorees from all amateur sports under the MPC umbrella. Even though assisted by an Executive Council, Lloyd Sowell's leadership was the single most important factor in the growth of the Memphis Amateur Sports Hall of Fame. Sowell's very active role as Chairman of the Executive Council and coordinator of the HOF activities continued until his death in 1988.
THE ORGANIZATION DEVELOPS
The original Executive Council established the goals and objectives for the Hall of Fame. Members in addition to Chandler, Galtelli and Weakley, were Ed Rast, Maxine Palazola, Shedric McKain, Gavin Gentry, John Roberson, Bill Peeples, Ruth Bowen, Janell Spencer, Brenda Lockhart, Charlie Powell and Helen Zollinger.
The Executive Council functioned throughout the Halls' early years then officers were elected. The late Cliff Norvell served as the first president in 1976 and 1977. The longest period under one leader began in 1978 when Ray Hayes became president. Haynes left office at the end of 1985 after serving eight years and was followed by Larry Bell who completed four terms in 1989. The late Bobby Dunavant's three year tenure began in 1990 and lasted through 1992. Larry Hilbun served in 1993, 1994 and 1995 and was followed by late Al Brown for the period 1996 - 1998. An original Executive Council member, Brenda Lockhart, served as the Hall's first female president in 1999-2000. The late Jim Bacon, first served in 2001-2002 and then again in 2005. Ray Daniels deceased during his term in 2006. Alex McCollum served in 2003-2004 and again in 2007-1008. Murrell Weaver was elected for 2009-2010 and turned the reins over to Butch Parker in 2011 and 2012. Murrell Weaver was elected to serve a second term for 2013-2014. Jan Averwater was elected by the membership to serve a two year term for 2015-2016 - and is now our past president. Lynn Alford is our current president, serving for the 2017-2018 term.
TODAY, TOMORROW AND BEYOND
TODAY'S HALL OF FAME
The Memphis Amateur Sports Hall of Fame is now a private not-for profit tax exempt organization funded completely by individuals and businesses. In addition, funds are raised at the annual Lloyd Sowell Memorial golf tournament and the HOF has enjoyed the strong financial support from several area businesses.
Four elected officers serve the organization and the general membership meets bi-monthly. The four officers, the immediate past president and ten active members comprise the Selection Committee that reviews nominees for the HOF. All nominees are presented to the general membership for discussion prior to selection. Approximately 100 of the over 200 living members of the HOF pay annual dues and actively participate in the meetings and other activities.
THE TRADITION LIVES ON
Each year, deserving inductees become a part of this prestigious organization's history and tradition. They are added to the roll of Memphis sports history that includes names like Anderton, Bargiacchi, Blancett, Bramlett, Cavette, Cain, Dunavant, Dial, Dondeville, Dwyer, Dykema, Fletcher, Fondren, Gagliano, Gunn, Hilbun, Lapides, Charlie Lee, Marquette, Metz, Prescott, Roane, Scheele, Schopfer, Speros, Stratmann, Vollmer, Wenzler and Zollinger. They can be identified with talented yet colorful sports legends who became widely known by names like "Sleepy," "Dollar," "Tootsie," Cotton," "Showboat," "Cobb," "Chicken," "Dixie," "Tick-Tock," "Monk," "Tater-Bug," and "Dink." They will help select future inductees who, like most of us, know we cannot measure up to the standards and achievements of those few among us who are truly great. Nevertheless, we are honored to be among this number.