50 Classes of ASHOF Class of 1974

Class of 1974

Published Friday, June 23, 2017 4:00 pm

On April 28, 2018, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame will induct its 50th Class.  In celebration of this milestone, we will be sending an email out each week, over the next 50 weeks, beginning with the Inaugural Class of 1969, and culminating with the

Class of 2018.

This is the 6th of 50 Classes of the ASHOF

Class of 1974


Mel Allen
Mel Allen born February 13, 1914 in Birmingham, Al. As a junior in law school at the University of Alabama, he broadcast his first college football game for the University of Alabama. By 1937 he was a staff announcer with CBS. He was the "Voice of the Yankees" from 1946 to 1964. He eventually called 22 World Series on radio or television, including all but one in the 17-year stretch between 1947 and 1963. He also called 24 All-Star Games. In football he broadcast 14 Rose Bowls, five Orange Bowls, and two Sugar Bowls.  In the NFL, he served as play-by-play announcer for the Washington Redskins in 1952 and 1953 and for the New York Giants on WCBS-AM in 1960, with some of the Giants' broadcasts also carried nationally by the CBS Radio Network. He also did radio play-by-play for the Miami Dolphins and for the Miami Hurricanes.  In his later years, he hosted a syndicated highlights show This Week in Baseball, which he hosted from its inception in 1977 until his death.  He is a member of the National Sportswriters and Broadcasters Hall of Fame. He passed away June 16, 1996.

William H. Bancroft

William H. Bancroft born August 25, 1904 in Livingston, AL. He  football at Howard College from 1924-28. He stayed on as a coach and became the head coach 1934-39. In 1935 Howard tied Alabama 7-7. In the off-season he played minor league baseball.  He played on six teams from 1929 to 1940.  He played on two Dixie Series Championship teams - Birmingham 1931 and Oklahoma City 1935. He managed Selma in 1940 and Gadsden in 1941. After serving in World War II he coached at Anniston High School from 1946-58. From 1958-70 he was boys' advisor at Woodlawn High School before retiring. He passed away December 6, 1993.

Garland Washington (Jeff) Beard
Garland Washington (Jeff) Beard born August 4, 1910 in Hardinsburg, Kentucky. In 1928, he enrolled at Auburn and became captain of the track team and Southern Conference champion in discus throw. In 1932 he joined the Auburn athletic staff as business manager, and in 1951 he was named athletic director.  His first major decision as athletic director was the hiring of  Ralph Jordan as the Auburn Tigers football coach.  He expanded the seating capacity at Cliff Hare Stadium from 20,000 to 63,000, and oversaw the construction of Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.    At the time, he developed a new track, a dormitory for athletics and a ten acre football practice field. He stepped down as Auburn's athletic director in July 1972.  He passed away on November 10, 1995.


Samuel Dewey Byrd
 Samuel Dewey Byrd born October 15, 1906 in Bremen, Georgia, moved to Birmingham at an early age. He was both a professional baseball and professional golfer. He was a member of the New York Yankees' "All Birmingham Outfield" with Ben Chapman and Dixie Walker. He played 744 games-with the Yankees from 1929-34 and with Cincinnati Reds from 1935-36, hitting ..274.  In 1936, he quit baseball to pursue a career in professional golf. He won 23 events on the  PGA Tour. In 1944 he won the Philadelphia Open, the war time equivalent of the U.S. Open.  He finished twice in the top 10 at the Masters: third in 1941 and fourth in  1942. He finished second in the 1945 PGA Championship.  He is the only person to have played in a World Series and competed in Masters Golf Tournament. He made one appearance in the 1932 World Series (game 4) while playing for the New York Yankees - as a defensive replacement for Babe Ruth - in the bottom of the 9th inning.  The Yankees went on to win 1932 World Series.  Byron Nelson referred to him as perhaps the greatest long iron player ever. He passed away May 11, 1981.


Walter B. Gilbert

 Walter B. Gilbert born February 5, 1915, in Ensley, Alabama. He was an All-American football at  Auburn from 1935-36, and was also All Southeastern Conference three consecutive years (1934, 1935 and 1936).  He also played linebacker.  He was the Auburn captain in 1936 and rated as one of the greatest centers and linebackers in Southern Football at that time.  In 1956 he was elected to the National Football Hall of Fame.  In 1981 Auburn began bestowing the Walter Gilbert Award to distinguished alumni athletes.  He passed away on August 19, 1980.


Frank James Howard
 Frank James Howard born in 1909 at Barlow Bend, AL.  He went to the University of Alabama on academic scholarship. The "Baron of Barlow Bend" earned three letters in football  and three in baseball. He was track coach and assistant football coach at Clemson from 1931 through 1939. In 1940 he was named head football coach.  He led Clemson to ten bowl games, an undefeated season in 1948, and several top-20 rankings during his tenure as head coach.  He compiled a 165-118-12 mark in 30 years as head coach.  His teams won six ACC Championships and he was named ACC Coach of Year in both 1958 and 1966. After retiring as head coach he became Athletic Director at Clemson.  He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, and the Clemson Ring of Honor.  He passed away on January 26, 1996.
 Virgil Oliver Trucks
 Virgil Oliver Trucks born in Birmingham, AL. on August 16, 1919. He played pro baseball for sixteen years. "Fire" Trucks became a genuine strike-out king. He played 17 seasons in the Major leagues.  He pitched for Detroit 1941-52 and 1956, St. Louis and Chicago in 1953, Kansas City and New York, 1957. He had a career pitching record of 177 wins, 135 losses (.568) , including 1,532 strike-outs, 1,090 bases on balls.  In 1949 he led the American League in shutouts and strikeouts.  His best season was in 1953 when he won 20 games.  In 1952 he threw two no hitters, one one hitter and a one two hitter.  He also had 19 losses that season. He was the third major league pitcher to throw two no hitters in one season.   He pitched in the 1949 and 1954 All-Star games and won the 1949 game.  He played on one World Series Championship team in1945 with the Detroit Tigers  and was on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Pirates World Series win in 1960.  He passed away on March 23, 2013.