Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame

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Gerald-Tucker
Leslie-O'Neal
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JC Watts

Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame & Jim Thorpe Museum
AN OKLAHOMA TREASURE AND LEGACY…

BY DON SWIFT

November 17, 2009 was a special day in Oklahoma history. It was the day the Jim Thorpe Museum and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame opened its doors to a new 30,000 square foot, one-of-a-kind, museum and event center. At this outstanding facility, hundreds of notable Oklahomans have been honored. With more than 11,000 visitors annually, the museum showcases Oklahoma’s greatest athlete, Jim Thorpe.

The Jeaneen and Bob Naifeh and Bud Wilkinson event center is the home for different sports-related events annually. For example, the Jim Thorpe Award is given annually to the best defensive back in NCCA college football nationwide. The 2014 Jim Thorpe Award Winner is Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State University.

Also, another event is a Leadership Luncheon announcing the names of Oklahomans being inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. The Induction Class of 2014 includes outstanding people who have made significant contributions to Oklahoma’s rich sports history.

What makes the Oklahoma Hall of Fame so special and worthwhile?
It’s the home to many of Oklahoma’s greatest athletes who have been NFL Pro Bowlers, NBA All Stars, MLB All Stars, NCAA National Champions, Heisman Trophy Winners, World Series Champions, Super Bowl Champions, and Olympic Medalists. An experience

2014 HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

J.C. Watts: A former U.S. Congressman, J.C. is Chairman of the J.C. Watts Companies, a multi –industry holding company headquartered in Washington, DC. with operations in Texas and Oklahoma. As chairman, J.C. provides strategic focus and program leadership to the firm’s business engagements, alliances, and initiatives.

J.C. has built a diverse business organization that includes Mustang Equipment (John Deere dealerships in Texas), J.C. Watts Holdings, private equity investments and Watts Partners, government and public affairs consulting company. J.C. was elected to the U.S. Congress from the fourth district of Oklahoma in 1994. He attended the University of Oklahoma until his graduation in 1981. While at the University of Oklahoma, J.C. quarterbacked for the Sooners, leading them to two consecutive Big Eight Championships and Orange Bowl victories. He was voted the Most Valuable Player in the 1980 and 1981 Orange Bowl games.

Leslie O’Neal: Leslie was a two time All-American at Oklahoma State University. He was runner-up as the nation’s college top defensive player in 1985 and for the Lombardi Award. Leslie was a Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year and earned All-Big Eight honors all three years. O’Neal was fifth in all time tackles with 351, and tied for the 10th best season in OSU history with 134 in 1984. Leslie was first round draft choice of the San Diego Chargers in 1986 =, and was named NFL rookie of the year after posting 82 tackles and 12.5 sacks his first season. He missed the next two seasons with a career-threatening knee injury, but returned in 1989 ti earn his first Pro Bowl invitation. He was also named comeback Player of the Year. During his career as defensive end, he was selected to the Pro Bowl six times, while recording 136.0 career sacks.

Mayor Mick Cornett: The world is taking notice of Oklahoma City’s remarkable renaissance and its popular mayor, Mick Cornett. Known for his commitment to streets and public safety, his growing list of individual awards and honors include nods for urban design, health, sports, and the arts. In September he was named the State of Oklahoma’s Mayor of the Year. Governing Magazine named him the public Official of the Year. Newsweek named him one of the five most innovative Mayors in the United States. And, Over Europe, a London- based organization that studies Mayors and their work, listed him as the Second Best Mayor in the world, second only to the Mayor of Mexico City. Mayor Cornett was instrumental in the creation of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.

Darrell Porter: Darrell played as a catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, Kansas City Royals, St Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. He quickly gained a reputation for his defensive skills and power hitting. A perennial fan favorite, Darrell played in three World Series, was named Series MVP in 1982 and was a four-time All Star. Darrell excelled at both football and baseball while attending Oklahoma Southeast High School. He was named All-State football quarterback in 1969 and Oklahoma Baseball Player of the year in 1970. He could have played either sport, yet he chose baseball and was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round of the 1970 draft. Darrell made his major league debut with the Brewers at age 19. In 1979, he became only the sixth catcher in major league history to score 100 runs and 100 RBI’s, and is one of only two catchers to have 100 runs, 100 RBI’s and 100 walks in the same season. Darrell finished his career with 188 home runs and a .247 batting average. Greater than his love of sports were God and his family. Darrell is survived by his wife Deanne, daughter Lindsay Porter-Wilson (John) and sons, Jeff and Ryan.

Gerald Tucker: Tucker was the head coach of the U.S. Olympic men’s gold medal basketball team in 1956. He was a member Winfield High School’s state championship teams in 1939 and 1940 and a two- time Helms Foundation Basketball All American at Oklahoma in 1943 and 1947. Gerald was also named the national player of the year in 1947. Tucker was also an AAU All America for the Phillips 66 Oilers in 1949 and 1950 and coached the Oilers to the 1955 AAU National Championship. In 1989, he was named to the Final Four all star 1940 team. In 2010, Tucker was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. Tucker was presented the Naismith Award by Kareem Abdul Jabar. Gerald was a loving father and husband and helped people in many ways. He was the General Manager of Phillips 66 Plastics until his death in 1979.

Roy Cooper: Following an impressive rodeo career at Southwestern Oklahoma State University that included a 1975 Collegiate National Finals Rodeo Championship, Cooper burst onto the professional roping scene in 1976 earning PRCA Rookie of the Years honors while winning the calf roping championship, as well as his first eight world titles. In a professional career that has spanned five decades, Cooper has won eight individual world championships, one of only 10 men in pro-rodeo to ever do so, and one of only three to hold multiple Triple Crown titles. Copper became the first cowboy to break the $2 million career earning mark and has won nearly every major rodeo across the United States and Canada. Copper’s career includes a record 32 National Finals Rodeo qualifications: a stunning 19 qualifications in Calf Roping and 13 in Steer Roping. Copper owns eight National Finals Rodeo area records and holds one of the fastest average times in history at the Steer Roping Finals. Copper’s unparalleled ability with a rope earned him the nickname “Super Looper,” and he has been inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.

The Induction Ceremony into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame for these outstanding inductees is scheduled on August 4, 2014 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Showcasing Oklahoma’s rich sports heritage is the mission of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization. Preserving the memories, starting with the positive lifestyle of the Legendary Native American, Jim Thorpe and many more Oklahoma Sports Legends, can be enjoyed by all Oklahomans and an experience people will not soon forget.

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