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.