Auburn Offensive Coordinator Dameyune Craig is among the newest inductees to the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame. The Class of 2014 was announced today. It includes the Hall's first ever women's basketball player, its first ever swimmer, a baseball pioneer, a highly decorated track and field coach, and a high school football team considered the best in Alabama history.
Dameyune Craig quarterbacked Blount High School to two state championships before starring at Auburn where he led the Tigers to the 1997 SEC Championship Game. Craig later played for the Carolina Panthers and in NFL Europe before embarking on a coaching career that has featured stops with the Miami Dolphins, L.S.U., Florida State, South Alabama, and Auburn.
"The first thing I thought about was ‘where will this go on my accomplishment list,' and it went straight to the top," said Craig. "Sometimes you set goals for yourself but this one is one I never thought I could achieve."
Another Auburn great will accompany Craig into the Hall. Lauretta Freeman-Horn starred at Williamson High School before embarking on a remarkable career on the Plains. Freeman led Auburn to the 1990 Final Four and was the SEC Player of the Year and First Team All America in 1993. She won a gold medal for the U.S. at the 1994 Goodwill Games. Freeman played professional basketball overseas and in the ABL. After retiring, she has been an assistant coach at Auburn and a head high school coach in Mobile (St. Paul's).
She will be the first women's basketball player inducted into the MSHF.
"It's a great honor," said Freeman-Horn. "It makes me think about all the little girls that are going to follow me and I just thank God that I'm in this position."
Casey Converse will be the first swimmer in the MSHF. Converse learned to swim competitively at the Mobile County Club becoming one of the United States' pre-eminent distance swimmers during the 1970s. He set a pair of NCAA records while swimming for the University of Alabama and swam in the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal.
"He considers Mobile his hometown and he's just so excited that his home town is honoring him in this way," said Converse's sister Brandly Monroe who attended today's announcement. For the last 29 years, Converse has been the head swimming coach at the Air Force Academy.
The most surprising inductee this year might be Charlie "Home Run" Duffee who died 120 years ago.
He was the first Mobile born baseball player to reach the major leagues. As a rookie in 1889 with the St. Louis Browns of the then major league American Association, Duffee finished third in the A.A. in home runs. He also played for the Columbus Solons, the Washington Senators, and the Cincinnati Reds before his promising career and life were cut short by tuberculosis. He died in 1894 at the age of 28.
His grandniece Sue Edwards, 83, of Bay Minette, is believed to be Duffee's last remaining relative.
"On my 83rd birthday that's when (they) called me and told me about this," said Edwards. "What a birthday present."
Duffee may have become one of the game's early stars.
"He had a pretty good batting average and he was a good base stealer," said ron Wilhelm, a member of the MSHF Selection Committee. "And he had this great stat. One year he threw out 43 base-runners which means he had a rocket for an arm."
"We never forget," said MSHF Chairman Joe Gottfried when discussing Duffee's induction. "People will say to me ‘why isn't so-and-so in the Hall and I tell them we have so many great athletes. Now I can say we had one athlete who had to wait 120 years to get in the Hall."
Sam Pettaway will only have to wait twenty years to be inducted after retiring as Davidson track coach in 1992. His boys' teams won state championships in 1976, '81, '82, '84, '85, '86, '87. His girls' teams won state championships in 1987 and '88. Pettaway's athletes earned more than forty All-American distinctions and many went on to successful college careers.
"It's one of the things in life you look forward to and hope one day you'll be good enough to get into something like this," said Pettaway. "But when you're sitting around you really don't think that's going to happen."
The 1988 Vigor High School Football Team will join the 1947 Mobile Bears as the only teams inducted into the MSHF. The ‘88 Wolves is the only Alabama squad ever designated National High School Football Champions. The Wolves went 13-0 and allowed just 44 points all year as they won the Alabama 6A Championship. The team was named National High School Football Champions by ESPN. Eight players were named All-State. Several players went on to successful college and professional careers including Kevin Lee, Lectron Williams, Mitch Davis, Roosevelt Patterson, and Kelvin Sigler.
"Every position we had a player that was a potential division one player and that was something no other team could compete against and that's why I think we had so much success," said Williams. "There weren't any weaknesses on that football team."
The '88 Wolves were coached by the late Harold Clark who is already a member of the MSHF.
The MSHF Induction Ceremony and Banquet will be held Thursday May 22nd at the Battle House Hotel. Tickets are $100 and are available at mobilepsortshalloffame.com or by calling 709-0310.