NATCHITOCHES — Nearly six decades have passed since T.P. “Skipper” Heard served as athletic director at LSU.
Heard’s legacy grew Saturday night when he was posthumously inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, providing a lasting memory for 42 relatives on hand.
“We want to thank the Louisiana Sports Writers Association for their work and research that made this possible,” Heard’s grandson Will Wilton said. “When you look at the numbers — we have relatives who came from all across Louisiana and Texas to be here — it shows what it means to us. I know it’s something my grandfather would be very proud of.”
Heard and former LSU baseball star Todd Walker were part of an eight-member class inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame during ceremonies Saturday night at the Natchitoches Events Center. About 650 attended the 52nd annual induction event.
Also inducted were three former members of the New Orleans Saints: kicker Morten Andersen, fullback Buford Jordan and linebacker Vaughan Johnson. Former University of Louisiana at Lafayette softball star Kyla Hall Holas, former Xavier University and NBA standout Donald “Slick” Watts and West Monroe High football coach Don Shows were the other inductees.
Boxing official Elmo Adolph, of New Orleans, and former legislator and Haughton coach Billy Montgomery were recipients of the 2011 Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award. Also honored were New Orleans writer-historian Ron Brocato and former Southeastern Louisiana University Sports Information Director Larry Hymel, recipients of the 2011 Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism Award.
“I grew up watching the Saints,” Walker said. “So for me, it’s cool to be in the same room with them, much less be inducted into a hall of fame with them.
“The other halls of fame I’ve been put in are baseball specific. This is everybody who can run, jump or throw something. It’s a unique class and I’m very honored to be part of it.”
While Heard, who died in 1980, helped build LSU into the national sports power by promoting Saturday night football as an event by installing lights om Tiger Stadium and brokering statewide broadcasts of games during his tenure as athletic director from 1933-54, Walker was a key player in the Tigers’ rise to prominence in college baseball.
Walker was an All-American who was voted the 1993 College World Series MVP after helping lead the Tigers to the national title. He went on to play 12 seasons in the major leagues with seven teams after being drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Twins in 1994.
Holas, now the head softball coach at the University of Houston, became the first softball player inducted. She led the Cajuns to their first Women’s College World Series in 1993. She compiled a 104-20 record in the circle and an earned run average of 0.50.
“It’s still very humbling getting a whole perspective of it,” Hollas said of the Hall of Fame. “It’s just something I never imagined, but it’s also something I worked very hard for.”
West Monroe’s Shows enters the 2011 season with 321 victories and has won seven state titles with the Rebels dating to the early 1990s. He ranks fourth on Louisiana’s all-time victories list.
“This is a great thing you have done for all the people of Louisiana,” Shows said of the Hall of Fame. “And not just for the ones who have received this award. It gives everybody a hope of getting in the Hall of Fame.
“I’m privileged to be where I am. It’s not a Don Shows thing at West Monroe or anywhere else I’ve coached. It’s about the parents, the players and the other coaches.”
Watts, a Mississippi native, was an NAIA All-American at Xavier-New Orleans, then went on to play with both the Seattle SuperSonics and New Orleans Jazz in the NBA. He led the NBA in assists and steals and made the NBA’s All-Defensive team.
Jordan, an Iota native, helps lead the contingent of three New Orleans Saints who all played at the same time with the team. He played fullback and special teams for the Saints from 1986-92 and also was Louisiana’s all-time leading rusher with 4,156 yards when he graduated and now ranks third.
“We all did some good things for Louisiana,” Jordan said. “And I’m Louisiana through and through. It’s an honor to be inducted with this group. I’m glad to bring some recognition to my home town.”
a Andersen scored 2,544 career points during an illustrious 25-year career in the NFL that included 13 seasons with the Saints. Johnson becomes the fourth member of the Saints’ famed “Dome Patrol” linebacker corps inducted. He played eight seasons with the Saints and made the Pro Bowl four times.