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Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame announces 2020 inductees

Photo by News Mississippi

The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame has announced its newest inductees. The 2020 Hall of Fame class includes six members from all different backgrounds and fields. 

“This six-person class is diverse in gender, color and sports they represent,” Executive Director Bill Blackwell said. “The addition of the six new members brings the total number of Inductees to 322.”

The class includes legendary baseball coach Jerry Boatner, ground-breaking golfer Pete Brown (posthumously), former NBA All-Star Antonio McDyess, architect Janet Marie Smith, former MSU Athletic Director Larry Templeton and Ole Miss standout LB Patrick Willis. 

Sanderson Farms and the Sanderson Farms Championship will be the presenting sponsors of the Hall of Fame Induction for the fourth consecutive year.  The Induction ceremony will be held on August 1, 2020 at the Jackson Convention Complex.

Below, you can read a brief bio for each indictee, courtesy of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. 

Jerry Boatner – is the winningest baseball coach in Mississippi history.  Boatner graduated from East Mississippi Community College and Delta State University before beginning his 50-year career in high school baseball.  He spent 5 years at Clarkdale High School before mentoring the players at West Lauderdale High School for the next 45 years.  When he retired his teams had won 1202 games and 14 state championships.  He also coached the girl’s slow pitch team to 8 state titles in 19 years at their helm.  He is in numerous Halls of Fame including: The National Federation of State High School Associations, the Mississippi Association of Coaches, the American Baseball Coaches Association, the Delta State HOF, the East Mississippi CC HOF, and the Crossroads Diamond Club HOF.  Boatner now lives in Jefferson, GA and is a volunteer coach at their local schools.

Pete Brown – was born in Port Gibson, MS but grew up in Jackson.  Pete spent a large portion of his youth at the Jackson Municipal Golf Course that was renamed in his honor.  He learned the game at that facility and after winning many tournaments for blacks only, Brown became just the second African-American to earn a PGA Tour Card.  Charles Sifford was the first allowed to play in tour events but Pete Brown was the first African-American to register a win on the previously all-white circuit by winning the 1964 Waco Open.  He played on the tour for 17 years and added a victory at the Andy Williams/San Diego Invitational in 1970 in a playoff vs. Tony Jacklin.  In 1985 he began playing in the PGA Senior Tour (now the Champions Tour).  He was the Head Pro at the Madden Golf Course in Dayton, OH until he retired.  Mr. Brown passed away in May of 2015 at the age of 80.

Antonio McDyess – a native of Quitman, MS earned national attention as one of the top basketball players coming out of high school.  The 6’9” McDyess was highly recruited and chose Alabama for his college destination.  He led the Crimson Tide in scoring and rebounding his sophomore year and then entered the 1995 NBA draft.  He was the second player chosen that year.  Selected by the Clippers, he was traded before his first season to the Denver Nuggets.  During his 16 year NBA career McDyess also played for Phoenix, the New York Knicks, the Pistons and the Spurs.  He was first-team on the NBA All-Rookie squad in 1996 and an NBA All-Star in 2001.  He was a Gold Medal winner in basketball in the 2000 Olympics.  The power forward averaged over 20 points per game in two different seasons while playing for the Nuggets.

Janet Marie Smith – This Callaway High School product from Jackson, MS has revolutionized the way people watch sporting events today.  She is a graduate of Mississippi State University and City College of New York.  Janet Marie has been the chief architect of transforming the Atlanta Olympic Stadium into Turner Field, designed what is now State Farm Arena in Atlanta, worked on building and remodeling Camden Yards in Baltimore, modernized Fenway Park and added the Monster Seats in Boston and currently works for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  With the Dodgers, she had her finger on creating the Dodgers Dominican Complex and is currently heading up a major renovation of Dodger Stadium.  Although she works for the Dodgers, she still resides with her husband and three children in Baltimore and is consulting on a new minor league stadium in Worcester, MA.

Larry Templeton – born and raised in Starkville, MS, Larry was one of the longest-tenured Athletic Directors in Mississippi State history.  Templeton oversaw great changes while AD at MSU including renovations to Scott Field, Dudy Noble Field, Humphrey Coliseum and the construction of a new state of the art Academic Center.  Since retiring from the AD position, Larry has stayed involved with helping the SEC offices as an Associate Commissioner in many capacities and serving on NCAA committees.  He also broke ground by hiring the first African American Head Football Coach in the SEC when he picked Sylvester Croom to lead the Bulldogs.  He also oversaw the addition of women’s soccer and softball as varsity sports.  The Athletic Department finished in the black each of his years as AD.  In 2005-2006 MSU recorded the highest combined student-athlete grade point and received a commendation from the American Football Coaches Association.  

Patrick Willis – a Bruceton, TN native, Willis became an All-SEC and All-American linebacker while at Ole Miss.  He went on to play for eight years for the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL.  When he is inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December, he will be the tenth Ole Miss representative of the school.  Selected to the Sports Illustrated All-Decade team, he is also a member of the Ole Miss HOF and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.  Willis was named to seven consecutive Pro Bowls and named 1st team All-Pro 5 times.  He was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2007.  He is one of only two players to earn the Butkus Award as the top linebacker in both college and the pros.

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