Front row (left to right): Billy Canty, Robyn Ezell Gollott, Barbara Siedell (representing husband Robert Earl Siedell), Margaret Bosarge Howell (representing father Buster Bosarge), Iris Mendenhall, Eugene Winstead
Back row (left to right): Mike Thomas, Glen Larkins, Morris Richardson, Mitch Doze, Russ Walker, Bootsie Larsen
Starting in 2004, I wrote a sports/human interest column which appeared in The Mississippi Press for over 10 years. Day job needs and a changing format for the Press moved me to step away from that, but now, thanks to Jackson County Home, the opportunity to get back in the saddle has arrived. We at jaxcohome.com believe that there may be a need for this type of feature for you, our readers, and we hope that you’ll let us know if we’re on the right track through your response. We have a lot of catching up to do, and what better way to start than with today’s story about a significant Jackson County event that took place just last week.
On Saturday evening, June 16, the Pascagoula Athletic Hall of Fame welcomed its Class of 2018 for induction. The Hall of Fame was created is and sponsored by the Pascagoula Athletic Foundation, whose purpose is to support any and all athletic endeavors for schools in Pascagoula. The Hall was the brainchild of Joe Davis and Dr. Donnis Harrison, both members of the Foundation’s board of directors. The PAHOF now has named three classes: 2015, 2016, and 2018.
As with the previous two, this year’s event was festive and well attended, with over 300 packing the Hilton Garden Inn ballroom. Here are the Class of 2018 inductees:
W.K. “Buster” Bosarge (PHS, 1931)- Team football captain who led the Panthers to 25 victories, then went on to play at Perkinston Junior College and Millsaps. Came back to Pascagoula and served as the city’s Parks and Recreation Commissioner as well as on the school board.
Billy Canty (PHS, 1958)- Football, baseball, and basketball star for the Panthers, including quarterbacking the football team and leading the basketball team in scoring. Went on to play at Furman and with Toronto in the CFL. Had a distinguished coaching career including stints at Furman, Florida State, New Mexico, and Ole Miss. Capped off career by working on the staff of Senators Trent Lott and Thad Cochran.
Robert Earl Siedell (PHS, 1959)- Led PHS to its first district baseball title in 1959, pitching two no-hitters along the way. Went on to make All SEC at Ole Miss, where he no-hit Tulane and set the still standing school record of 16 strikeouts against Alabama. Had a 35 year career in management with Chevron.
Percy “Bootsie” Larsen (PHS, 1961)- Football, baseball, and basketball star for PHS. All Big 8 in football as a center-linebacker. Was co-captain at Mississippi State, playing the same two positions. His outstanding 41 year coaching career included stops at USM, North Alabama, Richmond, and SMU.
Eugene Winstead (PHS, 1962)- Another three sport star at PHS. Kicked the winning field goal in final seconds to beat Moss Point in 1960, and holds school record for interceptions with 4 in one game. Went on to play baseball at Alabama and Mississippi College. Worked at Ingalls for many years.
Russ Walker (PHS, 1967)- Led PHS to its first state championship in baseball in 1967, and was a three year starter at QB for the football Panthers. Went on to play second base for Auburn, then came home to start what is now a 45 year veterinary practice.
Glen “Spooner” Larkins (Carver High School, 1967)- Football and basketball star at CHS, making all-conference in football. Received a scholarship to Perkinston Junior College where he, along with fellow Class of 2018 inductees Morris Richardson and Josh Wells, became the first African-Americans in history to play a sport at a college in Mississippi. Helped lead Perk to the 1967 state JUCO championship, then went on to play at Tennessee State. Retired after many years with the City of Pascagoula Utilities Department.
Morris Richardson (CHS, 1967)- All-conference lineman in football at CHS. Helped lead Perkinston Junior College to that 1967 championship. Served 21 years in the United States Army, where he was in Special Forces and achieved the rank of Master Sergeant. Now owns G&M Goat Farm and Dairies.
Josh Wells (CHS, 1967)- Co-captain and all-conference football player for CHS. All-Mississippi Junior College selection on the 1967 state champs at Perk. Member of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Hall of Fame. Went on to be an all-conference lineman for Southeastern Louisiana University. Retired recently after long career in law enforcement and construction management.
Mitch Doze (PHS, 1981)- Football, baseball, and track star at PHS. Made All Big 8 and All State as a running back in football, and was a state champion and All-American with the discus in track. Went on to play for USM and Tulane. Has worked for Ingalls, First Chemical and Chevron.
Mike Thomas (PHS, 1983)- Led PHS to the state baseball championship in 1983 as a pitcher-third baseman, and made All Big 8 in football as a linebacker. State Player of the Year in baseball. Went on to play baseball at MGCCC and Southeastern Louisiana, where he was all- conference. Has had a 28-year high school baseball coaching career, and is presently coach at Chalmette High in Louisiana.
Iris Mendenhall (PHS, 1986)- Basketball star and track letterman at PHS. Was team captain in basketball and made All Big 8. Went on to play at Pensacola Junior College, where she made all-conference, and at the University of West Florida, where she set a single game scoring record of 41 points. Works for Adient Automotive in Holland, Michigan.
Robyn Ezell Gollott (PHS, 1990)- Track star at PHS, where she still holds school records in the 100, 220, and 440-yard dashes. Went on to be co-captain of the track team at Southern Mississippi, where she helped lead the team to its first conference title. Returned to the Coast where she is in the midst of a 21-year nursing career, presently a supervisor at Ocean Springs Hospital.
All I can say is wow: what an incredible group of athletes and all-around good people. The first two Pascagoula Athletic Hall of Fame classes were similarly star studded. What is abundantly clear is that our hometown of Pascagoula has an athletic heritage that is very rich, second to none.
I think this is true for several reasons. Number one is just plain old good genes—we have a lot of talented people around here, in athletics and other endeavors. Also, we have always had good leadership for our kids coming up—good parents, good coaching, and so on. Then, I would submit to you that the citizens of Pascagoula have always cared about sports, and have supported our teams extremely well over the years. That goes a long way towards producing excellence.
The atmosphere at these Hall of Fame events these past three classes has been off-the- charts positive. Inductees, family members, friends, organizers and other attendees all gather together to celebrate something uniquely Pascagoulan. Look forward with me to when the next Hall of Fame Class is named, as we continue to find ways to commemorate our local history.
(Richard Lucas can be contacted at [email protected].)