MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Port City is home to several hall-of-fame and notable athletes who have made an impact in their respective sports and brought their winning ways back to their hometown of Mobile.
Among the plethora of high-profile athletes, Mobile is home to five Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famers. National Championship quarterbacks, former No. 1-overall National Football League draft picks and Hall-of-Fame coaches also call Mobile home.
WKRG took a deep dive into the extended list of athletes with list of accomplishments and more below.
Full list of notable athletes (in no particular order):
1. Hank Aaron, baseball
- Birth date: Feb. 5, 1934
- Death date: Jan. 22, 2021
- Accolades/Accomplishments: MLB Hall of Fame, 3x Gold Glove Winner, NL MVP, 25-time All-Star, 755 home runs, 3rd all-time in hits (3,771)
Hank “Henry” Aaron was born in Mobile, Ala. and is one of seven siblings. Aaron played outfield and third base for the Mobile Black Bears during his high school days, a semipro team. In an attempt to recognize Aaron for his accomplishments, the city of Mobile named the old Mobile Bay Bears stadium “Hank Aaron Stadium” as well as name the surrounding roadway around it as “Hank Aaron Loop.”
2. Satchel Paige, baseball
- Birth date: July 7, 1906
- Death date: June 8, 1982
- Accolades/Accomplishments: MLB Hall of Fame, 2x MLB All-Star, 1948 World Series champion, 1st African American pitcher in American League history
Satchel Paige is one of the most influential African American baseball players who helped break down the racial barrier in the MLB. Paige made his MLB debut at the age of 42 as the first African American pitcher in American League history. Paige is a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame after beginning his pitching career in the Negro Leagues, the first athlete to do so. There is Satchel Paige Drive in Mobile in remembrance of Paige.
3. Billy Williams, baseball
- Birth date: June 15, 1938
- Death date: Oct. 12, 1972
- Accolades/Accomplishments: MLB Hall of Fame, 6x MLB All-Star, NL Rookie of the Year, NL Batting Champion, Retired No. 26 with the Chicago Cubs, Hall of Fame for Chicago Cubs
Billy Williams was born in Prichard where he played for the local Mobile Black Bears baseball team before being signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1959. Williams hit 426 career home runs with 4,599 total bases. Williams still holds records for home runs (392), hits (2,510) and RBIs (1,353) as a left-handed batter for the Cubs organization.
4. Ozzie Smith, baseball
- Birth date: Dec. 26, 1954
- Death date: N/A
- Accolades/Accomplishments: MLB Hall of Fame, 15x MLB All-Star, World Series Champion, 13x Gold Glove winner, Roberto Clemente Award winner, Retired No. 1 for the St. Louis Cardinals, Hall of Fame for St. Louis Cardinals
Ozzie Smith was selected to the 2002 MLB Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility and was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2014. Smith was given the nickname “Wizard of Oz” during his time as a shortstop for both the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals. Smith was awarded the Gold Glove for 13 straight seasons, given to the top shortstop in the league.
5. Willie Lee McCovey, baseball
- Birth date: Jan. 10, 1938
- Death date: Oct. 31, 2018
- Accolades/Accomplishments: MLB Hall of Fame, NL MVP, NL Rookie of the Year, 3x NL Home Run leader, 2x NL RBI leader, Retired No. 33 for the San Francisco Giants, Hall of Fame for San Francisco Giants
Willie Lee McCovey, also known as “Stretch”, “Mac” and “Willie Mac” is the final MLB Hall of Famer in this list, making him the fifth. McCovey was awarded NL Rookie of the Year in 1959 and has his No. 44 retired with the San Francisco Giants as well as in the Hall of Fame with the organization. McCovey continues to hold an MLB record, 22 seasons played at first base. The left-handed hitter has 521 career homeruns, tied with Ted Williams.
6. Jake Peavy, baseball
- Birth date: May 31, 1981
- Death date: N/A
- Accolades/Accomplishments: 3x MLB All-Star, 2x World Series Champion, NL Cy Young Award, Gold Glove Award, 2x MLB ERA leader, 2x NL strikeout leader
A St. Paul’s Episcopal School graduate, Jake Peavy also made his mark in the MLB playing for the San Francisco Giants, likewise to aforementioned McCovey. In fact, Peavy’s number for most of his career was 44 before being traded to the Giants and moving to 43 as McCovey’s No. 44 was retired before then. Peavy was drafted 472nd overall in the 1999 MLB Draft out of high school.
7. A.J. McCarron, football
- Birth date: Sept. 30, 1990
- Death date: N/A
- Accolades/Accomplishments: 3x BCS National Champion, Maxwell Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Kellen Moore Award, First-team All-American, 2x Second-Team All-SEC
A.J. McCarron is perhaps one of the most decorated and successful college football quarterbacks since 2000. McCarron, born and raised in Mobile, attended St. Paul’s Episcopal School like Peavy. McCarron is a 3x National Champion with the University of Alabama under Coach Nick Saban. McCarron was drafted 164th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Mobile native spent three season with the Bengals before bouncing around between four organizations. McCarron most recently was signed to play for the St. Louis Battlehawks in 2022, one of the teams in the XFL.
8. JaMarcus Russell, football
- Birth date: Aug. 9, 1985
- Death date: N/A
- Accolades/Accomplishments: NFL first-overall pick, BCS National Champion, Sugar Bowl MVP, Manning Award
JaMarcus Russell is one of the most talked about athletes of all time regardless of sport. Deemed “one of the biggest busts in NFL history” by a plethora of outlets, Russell played just two season in the NFL after being selected No. 1 overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. Before Russell’s pro days, the quarterback attended Williamson High School where he started every game for the Lions in four seasons. Russell holds the record for career passing yards in Alabama High School football history with 10,774. Russell attended LSU on full scholarship where he won the 2003 BCS National Championship. More recently, Russell spent the 2022-23 high school season as the offensive coordinator for Williamson under head coach Antonio Coleman who also attended Williamson and is from Mobile.
9. Vince Dooley, football
- Birth date: Sept. 4, 1932
- Death date: Oct. 28, 2022
- Accolades/Accomplishments: 1x National Champion, 6x SEC Champion, Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, 4x SEC Coach of the Year, UGA Circle of Honor, College Football Hall of Fame, Walter Camp Coach of the Year
One of the most decorated coaches in Southeastern Conference football history, Vince Dooley was born and raised in Mobile where he attended the McGill Institute for high school. Dooley was an all-state athlete for the Yellow Jackets for football and basketball. Dooley played college football at Auburn University where he also coached. Dooley was the head coach of the University of Georgia from 1964-1988 where he was a national champion and is known as the best coach in program history. After that, Dooley was the athletic director for the Bulldogs from 1979-2004.
10. Bubba Wallace, NASCAR
- Birth date: Oct. 8, 1993
- Death date: N/A
- Accolades/Accomplishments: Six Camping World Truck Series wins, Two NASCAR Cup Series win
Bubba Wallace is known as one of the biggest rising stars in the NASCAR world. Wallace has two Cup Series wins and six Truck Series victories since being active in 2012. Wallace became the first African American driver since Wendell Scott to win a NASCAR race in 2013. Wallace is the second African American driver to win in the Cup Series, which came at Talladega Superspeedway in 2021.
You can read more on each of the five MLB Hall of Famers here. The City of Mobile said in March 2022 they are planning on opening a “Hall of Fame Courtyard” for each of the five players.