A Baylor-bred Olympic gold medalist and the only Waco-born ballplayer enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame are among the sports greats who have made the ballot for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame’s class of 2015.
Jeremy Wariner, a former NCAA 400-meter champion at Baylor, made the 20-member primary ballot. The late Andy Cooper, a Waco native who pitched 19 seasons in the Negro Leagues, landed on the 12-member veterans ballot. Generally, the top six vote-getters from the primary ballot and the top two from the veterans ballot comprise the induction class.
Wariner won Olympic gold in the 400 at the Athens Games in 2004, and also has a silver medal and two gold medals in relays to his credit. Cooper won 116 games for the Detroit Stars and Kansas City Monarchs, and also held the Negro Leagues career record for saves with 29.
Others who made the primary ballot were Dallas Cowboys defensive back Everson Walls, Heisman-winning quarterback Ty Detmer of BYU and TCU head football coach Gary Patterson. Other football greats included Fred Akers of Texas, Gil Brandt of the Cowboys, Dave Elmendorf and Jacob Green of Texas A&M and NFL fame, NFL single-season sacks king Michael Strahan and the University of Houston’s Wilson Whitley, the Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Decade for the 1970s.
Nolan Richardson, the only basketball coach to have won a junior college, NIT and NCAA title, also made the primary ballot for the second straight year. Richardson is a 2014 inductee to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The rest of the primary ballot includes rodeo star Trevor Brazile, baseball’s Cecil Cooper, basketball’s Ricky Pierce and Rudy Davalos, soccer’s Clint Dempsey, volleyball’s Flo Hyman, gymnastics champion Nastia Liukin and swimming’s Richard Quick and Dana Vollmer.
Andy Cooper was one of two stars of the old Negro Leagues to make the veterans ballot, joining Hilton Smith of Giddings. The rest of that ballot is made up of basketball’s Zelmo Beaty, Luke Jackson and Jay Arnette, football’s Bobby Cavazos, Ken Gray, Cliff Harris, King Hill, Jack Mildren and James Saxton and former golfer Dave Marr.
Voting will take place over the summer by members of the selection committee, which is made up of media from around the state, former inductees and voting members of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. The induction class is scheduled to be announced in September.