In Natchitoches this weekend, Louisiana celebrates its own.
Led by a pair of former celebrated NFL running backs, Deuce McAllister and Warrick Dunn, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame will welcome eight new members Saturday night.
A sellout crowd will be on hand at the Natchitoches Events Center as McAllister, Dunn, former LSU running back Terry Robiskie, former Louisiana Tech wide receiver Roger Carr, ex-Southern coach Pete Richardson, former LSU baseball star Eddy Furniss, New Orleans native and basketball great Aaron James and Thoroughbred jockey Mark Guidry take their place in the Hall.
Until now, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame has been portraits and a few pieces of memorabilia inside the lobby of Prather Coliseum on the campus of Northwestern State University. But that is about to change.
Construction is well underway on the 27,500-square-foot Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum in downtown Natchitoches. By the time the members of the 2013 induction class accept their honors next June, the museum will be complete.
If you are a fan of Louisiana sports – and based on the fact that you’re reading this website, it’s likely you are – plan a trip to Natchitoches next year to see the museum. I’ve been privileged to get an advance peek at what the finished product will look like, and it will be an all-encompassing trip through our state’s storied sports history for fans of all ages.
While the facility is being built with state funds, it takes much more to maintain and upkeep a high-quality museum project. You can support the hall through its non-profit arm, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation. Click here to find out how.
One of sportsNOLA’s own, Bill Bumgarner, will be part of the ceremonies this weekend. Bumgarner, who has covered sports in New Orleans for four decades, will be one of two recipients of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism at Saturday night’s event.
Recently retired Baton Rouge Advocate sports editor Butch Muir will also receive the award.
These days, news on football recruiting comes in many shapes and sizes, with multiple websites dedicated to recruiting both by school and on a national basis. The news can be instantaneous and more and more is coming straight from the player who has made his college choice.
But before thousands of fans would fill a convention hall on National Signing Day in downtown Baton Rouge or schools would put a video stream of the football office fax machine on their website, Bumgarner was Louisiana’s leading source for recruiting news. Before websites assigned “stars” to prospects on a seemingly random basis, Bumgarner’s blue chip lists each year were the standard bearer for rating the ability of soon-to-be college freshmen.
For his tireless efforts covering high school, college and pro sports for The States-Item, The Times-Picayune and now SportsNOLA.com, it’s a deserving honor.
It’s actually the second major award Bumgarner will accept in as many months. The Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches presented him with their Mr. Louisiana Basketball award in May.
Since Saturday night’s event in Natchitoches is sold out, let me recommend a terrific cause to support locally.
The annual Grand Slam Gala to support the New Orleans Boosters summer baseball program is Saturday night from 8 p.m.-midnight at Delgado’s student life center.
New Orleans has sent a team to Johnstown, Pa., each summer for the All American Amateur Baseball Association national championship each year since 1946. The proceeds from Saturday night’s event help defray the cost of travel for the team.
Tickets are $100 per couple and the event includes a dinner buffet and open bar. Every ticket purchased is eligible to win more than $5,000 in prizes, including the grand prize of $3,000.
Tickets are still available. To reserve your spot, call 504-906-1568.
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