Our History

On July 17, 1970 a capacity crowd met for dinner at the former site of Sheraton Motor Inn on Union Avenue to honor the original inductees into what was then Memphis Park Commission Amateur Sports Hall of Fame. The inductees include Doris Falcinelli, Buck Miller and Rabbit Cook for softball, Pep Marquette and Allie Prescott Jr. for basketball, Tommy Marshall for baseball, Virginia Simmons and Alex Wellford Sr. for tennis, and Frances DeGraffenreid and Author Moore for golf. All of the original inductees are deceased.

Lew Chandler, Ralph Galtelli, Bobby Richardson, and Bill Weakley had approached the late Lloyd Sowell, the Assistant Superintendent of Recreation for Memphis Park Commission (MPC), 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 Hall of Fame activities continued until his death in 1988.

The original Executive Council established the goals and objectives for the Amateur Sports Hall of Fame. Members in addition to Chandler, Galtelli, and Weakley were Ed Rast, Maxine Palazola, Shedric McKain, Galvin Gentry, John Robertson, Bill Peeples, Ruth Bowen, Janell Spencer, Brenda Lockhart, Charlie Powell and Helen Zollinger.

The Executive Council functioned throughout the Hall of Fame’s early years then officers were elected in 1976 starting with Cliff Norvell as the organization’s first president. Bill Weakley served as the M.C. for the first ten consecutive banquets that included Gene Bartow and Charlie B. Watson. Each year, deserving inductees become part of the organization’s history and tradition.

Past Presidents

1976-1977 | Cliff Norvell
1978-1985 | Ray Hayes
1986-1989 | Larry Bell
1990-1992 | Bobby Dunavant
1993-1995 | Larry Hilbun
1996-1998 | Al Brown
1999-2000 | Brenda Lockhard
2001-2002 | Jim Bacon
2003-2004 | Alex McCollum
2005 | Jim Bacon
2006 | Ray Daniels
2007-2008 | Alex McCollum
2009-2010 | Murrell Weaver
2011-2012 | Butch Parker
2013-2014 | Murrell Weaver
2015-2017 | Jan Averwater
2017-2018 | Lynn Alford
2019-2020 | Bobby Simmons
2021-2022 | Paul Holt (Current)

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.

Famous Firsts

First football inductee: Rusty Brown

First church honored: Bellevue Baptist (sponsor)

First sponsor inductee: Coca Cola
First manager/coach inductee: George P. Everett

First slow pitch softball inductee: Jim Bacon

First boxers inducted: Dempsey Dwyer and John Goodspeed

First Female President: Brenda Lockhard

First game official inducted: Pat Elmore
First elected official inducted: Bobby Dunavant (baseball)

First track and field inductee: Rochelle Stevens
First distance runners inducted: Sarah Minga Overton and Hugh Powers
First Lifetime Achievement Award: Gene Bartow First bowler inducted: Dot Barker

First special award to a contributor: Early Maxwell

First racquetball inductee: Andy Roberts

First special award to a professional athlete: Larry Herndon
First clergyman honored: Rev. Monsignor Paul Clunan (contributor)

First volleyball inductee: Chris Luhrs
First swimming inductee: Dick Fadgen