On February 24, 1966, a small dedicated group gathered at Manchester’s Holiday Inn to honor an impressive inaugural roster of Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame inductees. These volunteers were convinced they could offer something of critical and lasting value–the spiritual force of sportsmanship.
In 1967 they wrote, “…we find that our problems are increased and intensified by one constantly growing necessity; to find and use means by which we can get along with each other, individually and collectively. Learning to live together in a competitive situation…is a must.”
Today we invite you to cherish their ideal. Look upon Tennessee’s sports heroes not as people with super-human abilities, but as individuals upholding values to which we can all ascribe: commitment, discipline, peaceful competition, and excellence.
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, a non-profit 501c3, was founded by this visionary group known as the Middle Tennessee Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association. Its early growth was due largely to three of the founders: С. Е. Jackson Jr., Charlie Sons, and the Rev. A. Richard Smith. The late Bernie Moore, retired commissioner of the SEC, and the late Bishop Frank Julian guided the fledgling Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in its struggle for recognition. In 1966, the prep sportswriters and sportscasters spent their last $300 to finance the first banquet.
The State Legislature, under the leadership of Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh and Lieutenant Governor John Wilder along with Representative Bill Purcell and Senator Robert Rochelle, passed legislation in 1994 to officially create the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. The legislation passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate of the 98th General Assembly. Very seldom in the history in the state of Tennessee has a piece of legislation ever passed unanimously or as quickly as the “Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Act of 1994.” The creation of the Act began a new era in the history of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. A new Board was founded composed of 25 Tennessee citizens, eight each appointed by the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House; the 25th member of the Board is the State Treasurer or his designee.
The organizers of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame are grateful to their sponsors for making the commemoration possible; to the citizens of Tennessee, whose enthusiasm has driven the event forward; to the many who have brought wonderful individuals to the attention of the selection committee; and, of course, to the inductees, who have contributed immeasurably to their teams and their communities. Join us in honoring the history of the Hall and in looking to its future.