The 54th class of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame (ASHOF), which was inducted last week in Birmingham, was an impressive group.
The class included a Cy Young Award-winning pitcher, a football player with a couple of Super Bowl rings, the most accomplished athlete in the history of the University of Montevallo (my alma mater), a trailblazing championship softball coach, a member of perhaps the best backfield in Southeastern Conference history, a basketball player who may be about to earn another NBA title ring, a veteran baseball pitcher and a quarterback who will be headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible.
So, with all that star power, how could it be that the show was stolen by a 9-year-old boy from Mobile?
Here is the portion of inductee Jake Peavy’s acceptance speech that brought down the house.
“I’ve got a huge group of family members here supporting me tonight,” Peavy said. “When I asked them who I should thank and what I should say here tonight, my nephew Cash said, ‘Just tell ’em there are more Peavys coming.’”
That would be good news for sports fans in Mobile, and particularly St. Paul’s Episcopal, the school Jake attended and still supports. Nine-year-old Cash, as well as Jake’s sons, Waylon and Judson, are potential star athletes for the school.
Peavy shared his faith (infused with a bit of humor) during his induction speech.
Growing up in Mobile, Peavy was very close to his grandmother, who passed away prior to the 2009 baseball season. But before she died, she told her grandson that she knew that was going to be the season he finally won a World Series championship. So, when Peavy reported for spring training, he was fired up to tell his Chicago White Sox teammates that it was divine intervention; the White Sox were going to win the championship.
Everyone in the room was waiting for the rousing conclusion to the story that the White Sox went on to great success. Instead, Peavy deadpanned, “And then we went out and got our brains beat out. We were terrible.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be that way for long. Peavy went on to win World Series championships in back-to-back seasons with the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants.
He became only the second starting pitcher after Don Gullett to win consecutive World Series championship titles with different teams, one in each league. He is one of eight players in Major League history to win back-to-back World Series titles on different teams.
As impressive as Peavy’s resume is, it’s matched by the other members of the most recent ASHOF class.
Philip Rivers, the football coach at St. Michael Catholic in Fairhope, was a nine-time Pro Bowler after being taken in the first round of a legendary NFL draft that also included Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Rivers ranks sixth in all-time passing yards behind only Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Roethlisberger.
Doyle Alexander won 194 games during his 19-year Major League career with the Dodgers, Orioles, Yankees, Rangers, Braves, Giants, Blue Jays and Tigers. He was famously traded from the Braves to the Tigers for John Smoltz, a deal that worked out for both teams as Alexander led the Tigers to a pennant and Smoltz eventually became a Hall of Famer.
Williams Andrews was part of the ABC backfield at Auburn in the late 1970s. Andrews, James Brooks and Joe Cribbs were a terror for Auburn opponents. They also went on to star in the NFL for ABC teams. Andrews with Atlanta, Brooks with the Bengals and Cribbs with the Colts.
Keith Askins starred at Alabama and in the NBA and is still a member of the Miami Heat organization as the director of college and pro scouting.
Rusty Greer hit .305 over a 15-year career with the Texas Rangers after starring at Montevallo.
Alabama’s Patrick Murphy is the first softball coach or player to be inducted into the ASHOF. He won a national championship in 2012. His team is among the favorites to contend for a national championship again this year.
Justin Tuck made the unlikely trek from small town Kellyton in Coosa County to Notre Dame to the bright lights of New York. With the New York Giants, where he won two Super Bowls.
As impressive as the 2022 ASHOF Class was, it was just standard fare. Our state has an incredible sports history. And, as the Peavy clan can tell you, there are more coming.
Randy Kennedy, who has been a leading voice on the Gulf Coast sports scene for 20 years, writes a weekly column for Lagniappe. His sports talk show airs weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on Sports Talk 99.5 and the free iHeartRadio app.
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