This year’s honorees also include two-time American Football League all-star Garland Boyette, 400-game winning women’s college basketball coach Patricia Bibbs, hall of fame trainer Eugene “Doc” Harvey, 1950s-era basketball standout James Hooper, former Grambling school president Joseph B. Johnson, two-time NFL Pro Bowler Roosevelt Taylor, and former NFL rookie of the year Sammy White.
“There is such a legacy at Grambling,” said Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Brown, part of last year’s inaugural Grambling Legends Hall of Fame class. “We have so many great athletes to come out of Grambling, and this is a way for those athletes to be recognized because of the things they have done.”
The second annual Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 17, 2010 at the Monroe Civic Center in Monroe , LA.
The 2010 class is rounded out by Jerry Barr (former all-conference basketball honoree), Adolph Byrd (ex-football player and valued scout), Mary Currie (women’s basketball standout), Mackie Freeze (two-sport athlete and mentor of future Grambling stars as a high school football coach), Melvin Lee (two-way player on Grambling’s undefeated 1955 football team, then longtime offensive assistant), Jerry Robinson (two-time rushing leader) and Robert Williams (former Grambling baseball player).
Tickets are $60 each, and $500 for a table of eight, with all proceeds going to the non-profit Legends group for distribution in support athletics at Grambling. Tickets can be purchased at the Monroe Civic Center box office. Call 318-329-2837.
After winning two SWAC titles at Grambling from 1974-77, the Heisman Trophy-finalist Williams went on to a groundbreaking pro career as an African-American quarterback, first leading Tampa Bay to the NFC Championship Game then becoming the first to start in a Super Bowl for the Washington Redskins. He’s still the only one to win the game and to be named the game’s MVP.
“It says a lot,” said Williams, who followed his playing career with a six-season stint as Grambling’s head coach that included another three Southwestern Athletic Conference championships. “Grambling will always be home.”
A special reception is also scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, July 16, 2010, at the just-opened Eddie G. Robinson Museum on the Grambling campus. Robinson, the winningest coach in Division I college football history, was inducted into the Legends Hall during last summer’s inaugural event.
The Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame was founded by former NFL Pro Bowl MVP James “Shack” Harris, a four-time championship-winning Grambling quarterback from 1965-68, and a host of GSU greats who say they want to help ensure that their alma mater’s most storied athletic accomplishments are remembered into posterity.
“The Legends Hall of Fame provides the recognition and notoriety that should have come to those individuals who made great contributions to the university a long time ago,” said Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Davis, also a previous inductee. “There’s nothing in life more gratifying than being recognized and honored for those things they did on the field.”
Bio information on this year’s Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame inductees:
JERRY BARR: Part of a 1958-59 squad that won 28 games in a row before falling to Lenoir Rhyne in the NAIA finals at Kansas City , Barr ultimately netted 1,656 career points. He was All-Midwest Conference honors during Grambling’s final season before joining the Southwestern Athletic Conference, then was NAIA All-America in 1958. Inducted into Grambling State University ’s Gallery of Distinction in 1988.
GARLAND BOYETTE: Helped Grambling to its first-ever SWAC football championship in 1960, then earned first-team All-SWAC honors in 1961, as well as Little All-America honors as the Tigers won 17 games over his junior and senior seasons. An American Football League All-Star in 1968-69, Boyette played for the Houston Oilers from 1966-72, as well as NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals (1962-63), the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes (1964-65) and in the World Football League’s Houston Texans and Shreveport Steamer (1974-75). A versatile athlete, Boyette played guard, defensive end, outside linebacker, and middle linebacker. He even tried out for the 1960 Olympic U.S. decathlon team, but barely missed qualifying.
PATRICIA BIBBS: Coached the women’s basketball team to six championships over a 13-year tenure at Grambling – including three over a four-year span that included the first-ever undefeated season in SWAC conference play. Bibbs has added six more league titles during subsequent stops at Hampton and North Carolina A&T. Bibbs just completed a record-breaking year with A&T, where she led the Lady Aggies to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s regular-season title with a 14-2 mark, then became the first HBCU (historically black college or university) to make it to the Sweet 16 of a Division I postseason event – advancing to the third round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. A SWAC Hall of Famer, Bibbs was inducted into Grambling State University ’s Gallery of Distinction in 2008.
ADOLPH BYRD: Served as a tackle on Grambling’s 1940s teams before becoming one of the football program’s most important talent scouts in south Louisiana . Amongst the players he directed to GSU were Leroy Carter, Henry Davis, Henry Dyer and both Doug and Mike Williams. A football, track and basketball coach between 1950-66 at Baton Rouge ’s McKinley High, Byrd was inducted into Grambling State University ’s Gallery of Distinction in 1984.
MARY CURRIE: Finished her career at Grambling with 2,256 points and 905 rebounds over the 1983-87 seasons, averaging 20.7 points and 8.3 rebounds. A prolific shooter, Currie and once scored 52 points in a single game for Grambling. She would become the first female player to score more than 2,000 points in a career at GSU, averaging 51.9 percent from the field and 74.8 percent from the free-throw line. Named All-America by Black College Sports Information Directors Association in 1986, she died at age 34 in 2000 after a bout with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
MACKIE FREEZE: A two-sport star who played football and, as a standout pitcher, helped Grambling win 120 of 137 baseball games over his final three college seasons. He signed a 1950 contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers before coaching at Richwood from 1954-67. There, he earned victory in 116 of 139 football games – including a run of 66 in a row – on the way to four consecutive state titles. Freeze sent guided scores of youth to Grambling, and had 11 players who were drafted or signed to pro football contracts.
EUGENE “DOC” HARVEY: A trainer for the Dodgers over four seasons in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles , Harvey subsequently served as Grambling’s trainer and physical therapist for 32 seasons, joining the staff in 1959. He then worked part time as a coordinator of sports medicine until last season, and continues to operate a private clinic. Harvey was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers Association’s Hall of Fame in 1986, and was the first African-American to be named to the Louisiana Trainers Hall of Fame, in 1982. He received NATA’s 50-Year Award in 2005.
JAMES HOOPER: Averaged 25 points per game in 1957, as Grambling entered the SWAC, and was named NAIA All-American 1958, then led the Tigers to an undefeated season in 1959 while averaging 29 points per game. “James Hooper Day” was proclaimed later that summer by then-Mayor W.P. Seiver, of Tallulah , LA , Hooper’s hometown. Inducted into the Grambling State University ’s Gallery of Distinction in 1989, and named a starter on the Tigers’ all-time team in January 2010 by The Bleacher Report.
JOSEPH B. JOHNSON: A former basketball player, Johnson served as president at Grambling from 1978, when he succeeded Ralph W.E. Jones, until 1991. He earned the Thurgood Marshall Educational Achievement Award and Ebony’s American Black Achievement Award during a career that also included stops as an assistant to the president at the University of Colorado (1969-77) and Talladega College (1991-98). Johnson has been inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame and, in 1986, Grambling State University ’s Gallery of Distinction.
MELVIN LEE: A quarterback of the offensive line at center and team captain on Grambling’s undefeated 1955 black college championship squad, Lee ultimately had an astonishing impact on future generations of young men as a 37-year offensive assistant coach to Eddie Robinson. Credited with perfecting the program’s fabled Wing-T offense that would contribute to a record-breaking 408 career wins for Robinson at Grambling.
JERRY ROBINSON: Nicknamed “Ghost,” Robinson was a two-time first-team all-conference halfback beginning in 1960 as Grambling won its first-ever SWAC title. He led all Grambling rushers over through 1962, gaining 1,300 yards. Robinson played in the Senior All-American Bowl, then joined the AFL’s San Diego Chargers where he claimed three championships on a team that included fellow Grambling Legends Hall of Famer Ernie “Big Cat” Ladd. Robinson held the school record for career touchdowns until Frank Lewis set a new mark in the early 1970s.
ROOSEVELT TAYLOR: Part of Grambling’s initial SWAC championship defense in 1960 – the group included four future All-Pros – Taylor went on to lead the NFL with nine interceptions in 1963, on the way to 32 career picks. In 1968, he scored 6 TDs, including 96-yard interception return. Twice selected to the Pro Bowl, Taylor never missed a game in nearly nine seasons with the Chicago Bears and later appeared in Super Bowl VII with the Washington Redskins. He is a member of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, and was named among The 50 Best Bears earlier this year by the Chicago Sun-Times.
SAMMY WHITE: A former three-time SWAC champion receiver and 11-year assistant football coach at Grambling, White won both football and basketball state titles in high school before twice being named all-conference (1973, ’75) as a wingback at Grambling. After college, White went on to become an integral part of a Minnesota team that reached the Super Bowl after the 1976 season, the 1977 NFC championship and then the divisional playoff round both a year later and in 1982. White was named All-Pro three times. He is also a 2004 SWAC Hall of Fame inductee.
DOUG WILLIAMS: After winning two SWAC titles, and becoming a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, at Grambling from 1974-77, Williams became a groundbreaking African-American quarterback in the NFL, becoming the first to start in a Super Bowl. He’s still the only one to win the game and to be named the game’s MVP. Williams also led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the NFL Championship Game, then later succeeded Eddie Robinson as coach at Grambling, winning a trio of league titles in 2000-02. He has been inducted into the Louisiana Sports and SWAC halls of fame and, in the 1985, to Grambling State University ’s Gallery of Distinction.
ROBERT WILLIAMS: A standout pitcher as Grambling completed a run of four straight SWAC titles in 1960-64. Needing three wins for the 1963 crown and facing rival Southern in the final series, Williams started Games 1 and 3, and was the closer in Game 2 – and the junior won them all. The Tigers were also national runners up in the 1963-64 NAIA championship tournaments. Williams shone as a reliever in the ’63 tournament, and was approached about a contract by Gene Autry, then owner of the Los Angeles Angels. He ultimately signed with the Cleveland Indians, but his pro career was cut short by a rotator cuff injury in 1968. Elder brother of 2010 Legends inductee Doug Williams, who has always called Robert Williams his greatest inspiration.