Harris County-Houston Sports Authority Inisder

New class of Houston sports Hall of Fame inductees announced

New class of Houston sports Hall of Fame inductees announced
George Foreman heads the latest Houston Hall class. Gary Miller/Getty Images for Houston Sports Awards

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It was a perfect Saturday morning and the putting green at Champions Golf Club was packed. Some were getting in a little work. Others were waiting for a special moment.

In the middle of the green, Jack Burke Jr had his head down, showing a member how to stroke through the ball. He took another stroke and the ball slipped into the hole.

He turned around and - with Champions green and white balloons blowing in the wind - was welcomed to the 2019 Houston Sports Hall of Fame Class by Chairman of the Houston Sports Hall of Fame selection committee John McClain, and Harris County – Houston Sports Authority CEO Janis Burke.

The 95-year-old Burke joins Houston Oilers Luv Ya Blue quarterback Dan Pastorini, two-time world heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist George Foreman and A.J. Foyt, one of the best drivers ever to slip into a race car.

It's hard to top last year's inaugural class of Earl Campbell, Hakeem Olajuwon and Nolan Ryan – Houston's 34s – so we cast a wider net for the 2019 Houston Sports Awards and are celebrating a lifetime of Houston sports, one decade at a time, February 6 at the Hilton Americas.

And it just so happens that Burke, Foyt, Foreman and Pastorini highlight four of those decades as they mark anniversaries of some iconic milestones.

For Burke, who graduated from St, Thomas High School, that means celebrating the 70th anniversary of his first professional win – the 1949 Metropolitan Open. He went on to win 17 PGA TOUR events, including both the Masters and PGA in 1956. And it doesn't stop there. The World Golf Hall of Famer also played on five Ryder Cup teams, captained two Ryder Cup teams and Champions, the club he co-founded with Jimmy Demaret, hosted the 1967 Ryder Cup.

For our 60th Anniversary celebration, it was a no brainer as 1958 was the year that AJ Foyt Made his Indianapolis 500 debut. He would go on to win Indy four times, the first ever to accomplish that feat. He won at every level and is the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Already a member or International Motorsports Hall of Fame, The Auto racing Hall of Fame, The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, and countless others, AJ Foyt was genuinely thrilled to recognized by his hometown.

"I'm glad to be in the Hall of Fame here,'' he said. "I was born and raised here and I guess this is where I'm gonna die, but it's great to be here and Houston's been a good town for me.''

50 Years, the golden anniversary. Fitting, since it was 1968 that a kid from the 5th ward in Houston would take home a gold medal at the Olympic games in Mexico City. That kid, George Edward Foreman, would go on to become a boxing legend. Foreman was a two-time heavyweight champion, and has been inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Of course if you ask anyone under the age of 30, Big George is best known for his George Foreman Grill.

When Foreman was surprised with the Hall of Fame news, he admitted he wasn't sure he would ever amount to much, let alone become an iconic boxer and Hall of Famer.

"What a tremendous opportunity to have walked the streets of Houston, Texas, where I thought nothing much would become of me, I really didn't,'' Foreman said. "And now to be mentioned in the Sports Hall of Fame in Houston, it really is probably the most important award I've ever received."

It has been said many times that if Earl Campbell was the heart of the Luv Ya Blue Oilers, then Dan Pastorini was the soul.

The first-round draft pick in 1971, Pastorini was the charismatic leader of Bum Phillips' rough-and-tumble team that created an electric movement with its 35-30 win over Miami on Monday Night Football on November 20, 1978. His best season was in 1978 when he threw for a career-high 2,473 yards and 16 touchdowns.

"It means the world,'' Pastorini said of the honor. "Last year, when I had the opportunity to present to Earl it was quite thrilling for me because the 34s (Campbell, Olajuwon and Ryan) should be in there. But to represent the Luv Ya Blue years and our teams back then is very special to me. We don't really have an identity in this city, except for the love and the respect we have from the Luv Ya Blue fans and they keep us alive.

". . . This now gives us permanency in the city. It'll be something we can take our grandchildren to and say – We were here; we were part of this great history of the city of Houston."

Robert Brazile, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this year, was the first to call and congratulate, just moments after Pastorini was notified. Both were very emotional and looking forward to reuniting in February.

# # #

If you love Houston sports, you might want to purchase a ticket for the 2019 Houston Sports Awards Golden Ticket Raffle.

There are only 500 tickets available and the winner will get a pair of season tickets to all Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, Houston Dynamo, Houston Dash and Rodeo Houston home games/events during the 2019-20 season. The winner will also receive tickets to two Texans home games and to the Academy Sports + Outdoors 2019 Texas Bowl.

Raffle tickets can be purchased for $100 per ticket and that enters you into the drawing for all the above-mentioned tickets.

All proceeds from Golden Ticket sales benefit Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Foundation and the winner of drawn at the Houston Sports Awards Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at the Hilton Americas. Winners do not need to be present to win. To enter go to https://houstonsportsawards.com/golden-ticket-raffle/

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Duran leads the AL to victory! Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Speedy Jarren Duran describes himself as a player who keeps his head down, works hard and never thinks of himself as being better than anybody else.

Duran turned some heads in his first All-Star Game, hitting a tiebreaking two-run homer for the American League and being awarded the MVP trophy named after Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams.

“That's an honor. Who else would I want to try to follow in the footsteps of besides a guy like that, who is not just a great baseball player but a great human being,” Duran said after becoming the fifth Red Sox player selected All-Star Game MVP. “That guy was awesome, and I’m honored to be able to have his award.”

The decisive homer came in the fifth inning Tuesday night as the AL beat the National League 5-3 for its 10th win in the past 11 All-Star Games.

Pittsburgh rookie Paul Skenes pitched a hitless first for the NL, twice hitting 100 mph, and Shohei Ohtani also went deep in Texas with a three-run homer for a 3-0 lead in the third.

Juan Soto hit a two-run double and scored on David Fry’s single to tie the score in the AL third, and Duran went deep off Cincinnati’s Hunter Greene.

“It’s a surreal moment. So I’m just thankful to be here,” said Duran, who was one of 39 first-time All-Stars this year.

Oakland right-hander Mason Miller got the win after throwing a 103.6 mph pitch, the fastest in the All-Star Game since tracking began in 2008. Hard-throwing Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase struck out two in the ninth for the save.

The 22-year-old Skenes, who has pitched only 11 big league games since being the No. 1 overall pick in the draft last July, became the first rookie starter since 1995 and had the fewest games played for any player to make an All-Star team. The right-hander threw a hitless first, with a two-out walk to Soto before his Yankees teammate Aaron Judge grounded into a forceout on the next pitch.

Skenes threw 11 of 16 pitches for strikes, with seven fastballs up to 100.1 mph.

“Frankly, I wish I’d had a few more pitches to do that today,” said Skenes, who has a good mix of pitches to go with the hard stuff. “It’s cool to bring eyes to the game.”

Ohtani, who has gone deep 29 times in the first season of his record $700 million, 10-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, pulled a 400-foot drive to right off Tanner Houck. That came after the Boston right-hander allowed singles to the first two batters he faced: No. 9 batter Jurickson Profar and leadoff hitter Ketel Marte.

“I haven’t really hit well in the All-Star Game, so I’m just relieved that I put the ball in play,” Ohtani said. “I just focused on having a regular at-bat as if I was in the regular season.”

When Ohtani went against Miller in the fifth, he struck out on an 89.2 mph slider well inside and out of the strike zone. That was after twice taking strikes on fastballs of more than 100 mph.

Ohtani’s first All-Star homer made him the first Dodgers player to go deep in the Midsummer Classic since Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza in 1996. Eleven days after his 30th birthday, Ohtani was an All-Star for the fourth time — his first with the NL.

Baltimore’s Anthony Santander, after taking over for Soto in right field, had a two-out single in the fifth before Duran’s 413-foot homer to right-center after he had replaced Judge in center. Duran took a 95.9 mph fastball before going deep on an 86 mph splitter.

“I knew he threw really hard so I was just praying he would throw me a first pitch fastball so I could see how hard it was. After that, I was hoping to get a pitch up,” Duran said. “He happened to leave a pitch up. I happened to put a good swing on it.”

The last Red Sox player to be the All-Star MVP was J.D. Drew in 2008, following Pedro Martinez in 1999, Roger Clemens in 1986 and Carl Yastrzemski in 1970.

Duran was voted by his peers as an All-Star after being the first AL player to go into the break with at least 100 hits, 10 triples, 10 homers and 20 stolen bases.

The AL has a 48-44-2 record in the All-Star Game, and had won nine in a row before the National League's 3-2 victory last year in Seattle.

AL starter Corbin Burnes arrived in Texas the morning of the game after spending time at home with his newborn twin daughters. The Baltimore right-hander allowed a walk and then a two-out double to Bryce Harper before getting out of his inning on a comebacker by William Contreras, his catcher last season in Milwaukee.

After his underhand toss of the ball to first base, Burnes had a big smile on his face when he kept jogging and wrapped his arm around Contreras on the baseline.

Quick game

Played in 2 hours, 28 minutes, it was the shortest All-Star Game since 1988, a game that the AL won 2-1 in Cincinnati that took only two minutes less.

Won in both leagues

Bruce Bochy of the host Rangers became the first manager to win World Series titles and All-Star Games in both leagues. Bochy is now 2-3 as an All-Star manager, leading the NL to a win in 2011. He won the World Series three times with the NL's San Francisco Giants in 2010, 2012 and 2014, then led the Rangers to their first championship in his debut season with them last year.

Up next

The MLB regular series resumes Friday when 14 games are scheduled, with Milwaukee and Minnesota the only teams that won’t play until Saturday. Philadelphia (62-34) has the best record in the majors and Cleveland (58-37) has an AL-best .611 winning percentage, though Baltimore and the New York Yankees also have 58 wins.

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