The Mobile Sports Hall of Fame passed the century mark with its number of inductees on Wednesday, March 12, as a large crowd gathered to welcome them in the lobby of the RSA Battle House Tower in downtown Mobile.
“Once again, we have a dynamic and diverse group of athletes entering the Hall,” said Peter Albrecht, president of the group who served as emcee for the day. “We will be inducting our first-ever swimmer and female basketball player, our second-ever team, and even an athlete with an amazing story who passed away 120 years ago.”
The newest class – which brings the Hall to 102 entries — includes Dameyune Craig in football, Casey Converse in swimming, Charlie “Home Run” Duffee in baseball, Lauretta Freeman-Horn in basketball and Sam Pettaway in track. Also being honored is the 1988 Vigor High School football team, which was rated the top team in America after winning back-to-back state titles.
Craig is the most well known of the athletes. He quarterbacked Blount High School to two state championships, and then led Auburn into the 1997 SEC title game. He later played for the Carolina Panthers and in NFL Europe, before beginning a coaching career that has included stops with the Miami Dolphins, LSU, Florida State and South Alabama.
“It is really great to be honored by your home fans,” said Craig, who is now the co-offensive coordinator for his college alma mater.
J. Mark Bryant / Lagniappe
Converse was one of the top distance swimmers for the U.S. in the 1970s. After setting a pair of NCAA records while at the University of Alabama, he represented his country at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. For the last 29 years, Converse has been the head swimming coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“Casey could not make it today, but he wanted me to tell you what an honor it is to be remembered by his hometown and to join the Sports Hall of Fame,” Brandly Monroe, his sister, told the audience.
Albrecht talked about Duffee, whom reportedly was the first-ever player born in Mobile or Alabama to reach the major leagues. As a rookie in 1889 with the St. Louis Browns (now Cardinals), Duffee was third in the American Association in home runs. He also played for the Columbus Solons, Washington Senators and Cincinnati Reds before dying at 28 of tuberculosis. He is buried in Mobile’s Magnolia Cemetery. Sue Edwards, his grandniece, represented Duffee.
The next inductee to speak was Freeman-Horn, who first starred at Williamson High School. She went on to Auburn, where she was the SEC Player of the Year and a first-team All-American, while leading the Lady Tigers to the NCAA Final Four. After winning a gold medal at the 1994 Goodwill Games, she played professionally in America and overseas.
“I am humbled and excited about this nomination,” said Freeman-Horn, who went into coaching after her playing career. She served on the staff at Auburn and as the head coach at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile.
Perhaps the most excited person to be there was Pettaway, who coached track at Davidson High School from 1976 to 1992. His boys’ team won seven state titles, while his girls’ squad added two more. He had more than 40 athletes earn All-American honors.
“I enjoyed every minute as a coach,” said Pettaway, who was involved in the city of Mobile’s parks and recreation track program for many years. “It was not like a work day for me.
“It is amazing that a little guy who grew up in Trinity Gardens would be standing here today. It is so overwhelming, that I woke up with a headache.”
The final introduction was for the Vigor football squad. The only other team to previously be inducted into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame was the 1947 Mobile Bears baseball squad.
The Wolves went 13-0 in 1988, allowing only 44 points. The team finished No. 1 in national polls published by ESPN and USA Today. Eight players were named all-state, and many went on to successful college and professional careers. Among those present at the announcement were assistant coach James Perine and players Darrell “Lectron Williams, Roosevelt Patterson, Rodney Craig and Kelvin Simmons. The team’s head coach, the late Harold Clark, had been inducted into the Hall back in 1995.
Albrecht said the induction ceremony and banquet is set for May 22 at the Battle House Hotel. Tickets are $100, and are available by calling 251-709-0310.
Plans continue for a permanent display of the inductees to appear at the RSA Battle House Tower, and Albrecht said an announcement on that subject should come in the next few weeks. For more information, visit www.mobilesportshalloffame.com.