Andy Pettitte looks around at all the greats who are in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and is thankful that he’s joining them.
Though Pettitte is best known for helping the New York Yankees win five World Series titles, the hall is especially meaningful to him because he went to high school in Deer Park and attended San Jacinto College before helping the Houston Astros reach the 2005 World Series.
“Anytime you have a hall of fame attached to somebody it’s obviously a great honor,” Pettitte said. “The history of Texas sports is incredible and special. The Yankees retired my number (46) and this is another thing that I feel very fortunate and blessed to have.”
Pettitte was among eight inductees in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame Tuesday night at the Waco Convention Center. He joined former Texas Longhorns football coach Fred Akers, former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Larry Allen, rodeo star Trevor Brazile, former Texas basketball player T.J. Ford, former St. Louis Cardinals offensive lineman Ken Gray and former Texas A&M defensive end acob Green.
Former Negro Leagues pitcher Smokey Joe Williams was inducted posthumously.
The Yankees drafted Pettitte in the 22nd round of the 1990 Major League draft, but he exceeded all expectations as he finished with a career record of 256-153. He was at his best in the postseason as he led the Yankees to six series clinching wins.
“When I started playing sports, I didn’t think about getting into any hall of fame,” Pettitte said. “But it’s great when people recognize you. I’m a beneficiary of the players and teams that surrounded me with the Yankees and Astros. I was able to stay healthy and have a long career.”
Larry Allen was one of the greatest offensive linemen in Dallas Cowboys’ history from 1994 to 2005 and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not bad for a player from Sonoma State University.
“It’s a great honor to be in here with Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin,” Allen said. “I love to be in the company with those guys.”
Allen learned the ropes playing against former teammate Charles Haley in practice and facing former Green Bay Packers defensive end Reggie White.
“Reggie would pick me up and throw me to the side, but then he’d say he was proud of me,” Allen said. “Charles Haley beat the tar out of me my rookie year.”
Ford was one of the greatest basketball players in Texas Longhorns’ history as he led them to the 2003 Final Four. The point guard grew up in Texas as he led Sugar Land Willowridge to a pair of Class 5A state championships.
The Longhorns lost to Syracuse, 95-84, in the national semifinals at the Superdome in New Orleans.
“I remember the media coverage at the Final Four was overwhelming and there was so much energy,” Ford said. “I was nervous playing in front of all those people.”
After playing high school football at Houston Kashmere, Green became a two-time All-America defensive lineman for Texas A&M in 1978-79. He went on to a 13-year career with the Seattle Seahawks where he collected 116 sacks.
Green credits his father for teaching him a work ethic that helped him achieve a lot in life.
“My dad was probably a much smarter and stronger man than I am,” Green said. “He was 6-5 and 275 pounds. He taught me responsibility, and that was important growing up.”
Akers coached the Longhorns from 1977-86 and came close to leading them to two national championships. Gray played at Howard Payne University and was an All-Pro offensive lineman for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1960s.
Born in Seguin, Williams was one of the greatest pitchers in Negro Leagues history during a 27-year career that ended in 1932.
Brazile is one of the rare rodeo cowboys to make the hall of fame. A native of Decatur, Brazile is a 23-time world champion who won eight consecutive world championships.
“It’s such an honor to be recognized,” Brazile said. “It’s important to be from Texas where so many great cowboys are from.”