Many long-time observers consider the 1965-66 Pearl High state champ basketball the best in Tennessee history. At the very least, that team ranks high on any list.
On Tuesday, forward James Douglas became the third player from that squad that went 31-0 to be inducted the Metro Public Schools Sports Hall of Fame. He was one of eight people inducted at a luncheon at LP Field.
Coached by the late Cornelius Ridley, the Tigers breezed through the season, with virtually no close games. They capped things with a win over Memphis Treadwell in the finals at Vanderbilt in March 1966.
Teammates Perry Wallace and Ted (Hound) McClain were inducted with the Hall’s first class in 2005. Ridley joined them in 2007.
“We had an extremely talented team, so many good players,” Douglas said. “I was awestruck by the talents of Ted McClain and the leaping and athleticism and smartness of Perry Wallace. We all brought something and were all so close.
“But more than anything, it was coach Ridley who inspired me. For someone working with players ages16 and 17, he was so inspirational in the way he coached, taught us teamwork and how to work together as a group. I owe so much to him.”
Douglas, a power forward, scored more than 1,000 points and received over 100 college offers. He eventually played at Memphis State where he had an outstanding career under coach Gene Bartow. He played in the East-West All-American game in 1971.
He married right out of college and didn’t play professionally. He and wife Earlie have lived in the Los Angeles area since 1976 and he has served as general manager for Host Marriott Services and vice-president of Jim Dandy Fried Chicken.
Also inducted Tuesday were former McGavock High and Lipscomb College baseball star Reggie Whittemore, who went on to play nine pro years, mainly in the Boston Red Sox organization.
“I was so fortunate to play for coach Mel Brown at McGavock, who was a disciple of coach Ken Dugan, who I played for at Lipscomb,” Whittemore said. “I came right into the same coaching style as Coach Brown, for which I was grateful. I played with so many good players.”
Whittemore led McGavock to the 1975 state championship and played on two NAIA national championship teams at Lipscomb (1977 and 1979).
Most notably, Whittemore began the Nashville RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner city) program, which aids inner city youths who otherwise couldn’t afford the equipment and means to play baseball. That after serving as a long-time executive of the Nashville Boys and Girls Club.
“I’ve had six wonderful years with RBI, and I’m just glad I’m in a position to help young people,” he said.
Other inductees included:
• Tommy Wells: A standout football, basketball, baseball and track star and one of the greatest athletes ever to play for old Cohn High. He led the NIL in rushing with 1,505 yards and 105 points his senior year in 1956 when he won the prestigious Hume Award and was also named NIL most valuable player. He played football at Georgia Tech, where he became an outstanding field goal kicker, and later signed with the Dallas Texans of the old American Football League.
• Charlie Anderson: Has coached boys basketball for more than half a century in Nashville at old Central High, Stratford, Bellevue, Hillsboro (girls) and currently at Nashville Christian School and has a 1,044-460 record. He also coached for 20 years at Aquinas Junior College, where his 1991 team won the national junior college championship.
• Avion Black: Lettered in football and track at Maplewood High and went on to play on back-to-back OVC championship teams at Tennessee State. As a punt returner, he ran back four kicks for touchdowns. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills and played for the Bills, Houston Texans, New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings.
• Chuck Boyd: A standout football player at old Madison High, he was all-city and all-state and also won the state decathlon his junior year (1963) as a standout track and field performer. He played at Vanderbilt where he was an outstanding kickoff/punt returner before injuries cut short his career.
• Frederick Sumrall: Was an outstanding offensive and defensive lineman for the old Pearl High football team from 1963-65. He played at Tennessee State, where he was a member of two undefeated teams. He alse played two years in the NFL with the Washington Redskins.
• Donna Vaughn (Howell): Star player for the Maplewood High basketball teams from 1962-65 and a member of the all-decade team in the 1960s. She led her team in scoring her junior and senior years at 29.9 points per game, and her 1966 team was undefeated before it lost in the state tournament.
• The Cohn High Alumni Association held a reception for Wells. The group proclaimed April 10 as “Tommy Wells Day’’ for the player who many consider the greatest athlete in school history.
• Christ Presbyterian Academy held a rally day reception for its girls and boys Class AA state basketball championship teams Tuesday afternoon. Children from all grades, kindergarten through 12th, attended.
Coaches Becky LeGate (girls) and Drew Maddux (boys) made remarks and presented the trophies to headmaster Richard Anderson.
• Earlier in the day, CPA right-handed pitcher Davis King signed to play baseball at Bryan College in Dayton.