50 Classes of ASHOF Class of 1981

Class of 1981

Published Thursday, August 10, 2017 3:00 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 12th of 50 Classes of the ASHOF

Class of 1981



Bill Battle

William Raines Battle, III was born December 8, 1941 in Birmingham, AL.  He was a three-year starter at University of Alabama from 1960-62.  He was Coach Paul Bryant's first three-year regular at Alabama. He was a leader on the 1961 National Championship team. He was named a member of the Crimson Tide 1960's All-Decade Team.  He left Alabama in 1963 to become a graduate assistant coach at Oklahoma and then went on to become an assistant at the United States Military Academy, where he served a two-year military tour. He would make a name for himself in the coaching ranks at the University of Tennessee, where he was an assistant coach for four seasons before being named the Volunteers' head coach in 1970.  From 1970 until 1976 his Volunteers won the Sugar Bowl, the Bluebonnet Bowl and two Liberty Bowls. His overall record was 59-22-2.  After his coaching career he became a very successful business man.  He was the founder of Collegiate Licensing Company and served as the company's CEO until 2002. He also served as Chairman of the Board of Licensing Partners International.  In March of 2013 he was name Athletic Director at the University of Alabama.  After four very successful years as Athletic Director he retired in March of 2017.






Frederick Lee Davis 

Frederick Lee Davis was born February 15, 1919, in Louisville, Kentucky. He played at the University of Alabama from 1938-'40. He was All-SEC in 1940 and played in the East-West All Star game in San Francisco. He was the first Bama player to be named Most Outstanding Player in the East West All Star game. He was third round pick in the NFL Draft in 1941 by the Washington Redskins.  That same year he was named NFL Rookie of the Year with the Washington Redskins. He was a member of the Redskins World Championship team in 1942. He played with the Redskins from 1941-'46 and then with the Chicago Bears from 1946-'51.  He won his second World Championship as a member of Bears 1946 team.  He was All-Pro selection twice, once with the Redskins in 1942 and once with Bears in 1950.  He passed away on March 10, 1995.


Monte Irvin 
 Monte Irvin was born February 25, 1919 near Columbus at Haleburg, AL.  He played in Negro Leagues for the Newark Eagles from 1938-'42.  Then played in the Mexican League in '42 where he won the Triple Crown.  He served in the Army during World War II from 1942-'45.  He then played again for the Newark Eagles from 1945-'48. He help lead the Eagles to Negro League World Series Championship in '46.  He was a five time All-Star in the Negro Leagues.  The New York Giants acquired his contact in 1949 and he played for the Giants until 1955.   In 1951, he sparked the Giants' miraculous comeback to overtake the Dodgers in the National League pennant race, batting .312 with 24 homers and 121 runs batted in (RBI).  During the 1951 World Series, which the Giants lost he went 11–24 for .458.  Also that year he teamed with  Hank Thompson and  fellow ASHOF inductee Willie Mays to form the first all-black outfield in the majors.  He was named to the 1952 All-Star game.  In helping the Giants win the World Series in 1954, he hit .262 with 19 HR and 64 RBI.  He finished his playing career with the Chicago Cubs in 1956.  For his career he had a batted average  of .293, with 99 home runs, 443 RBI, 366 runs scored, 731 hits, 97 doubles, 31 triples, and 28 stolen bases, with 351 walks for a .383 on-base percentage. After his playing career he was  a scout for the New York Mets from 1967 to 1968.  In '68 he was named a Major League Baseball public relations specialist for the Commissioner's office under Bowie Kuhn. The appointment made him the first black executive in professional baseball.  He retired from Mayor League Baseball in 1984.  He was elected to the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. The next year, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  On June 26, 2010, the San Francisco Giants officially retired his number 20 uniform.  He passed away on January 11, 2016.  At the time of his death, he was the oldest living African American to have played in the major leagues, as well as, the oldest living member of a World Series-winning team.
 Governor Forrest James
 Governor Forrest James was born September 15, 1934 in Lanett, AL. He was a starting left halfback on Auburn's football team in 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1955. He gained All-American status as a senior. As a freshman he was third in the nation in kickoff returns. As a sophomore he led the SEC with 6.7 yards per carry; his overall career mark was 5.5 yards per carry. In 1955 he was the Atlanta Touchdown Club's Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. When he graduated from Auburn he was their All-Time leading rusher with 1,913.  His record stood for 21 years.  He played professional football in Canada as a member of the Montreal Alouettes during the 1956 season.  In 1962, he founded Diversified Products Inc., a manufacturer of fitness equipment known for the plastic-disc barbells.  In addition to physical fitness equipment, the company manufactured ballasts and counterweights for farms, industry and trucking. He founded DP in his basement and, over the next 15 years, the company ultimately grew to employ 1,500 people with plants in Opelika, AL, Los Angeles, and Toronto, with sales of about $1 billion annually.  He served two terms as Governor of the State of Alabama.  The first term as a Democrat (1978-1982).  The second term as a republican 1995-98.


Joe Namath

Joe Willie Namath was born May 31, 1941 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.  He played at the University of Alabama.  In 1964 he lead the Crimson Tide to a National Championship.  He was drafted in the first round in both the NFL and AFL Drafts.  He was the first overall pick in the AFL Draft by the New York Jets.  He signed the highest salary contract at that time in either the NFL or AFL for $427,000 for three years.  He was named AFL Rookie of the Year after leading the Jets to victories in five of their last eight games that season.  He became the first professional quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards in a season when he threw for 4,007 yards in 1967.  He lead the Jets to AFC Championship in 1968.  He lead the Jets to victory in Super Bowl III over the Baltimore Colts, in which he famously said a few days before the game "I guarantee it," the victory.  The win gave the AFL instant legitimacy.   He was named MVP of Super Bowl III.  He was an AFL All-Star four times.  He was first team All AFL in 1968.  For two consecutive years he was AFL Most Valuable Player (1968-'69).  He was AFL passing leader for two consecutive years (1967-'68).  He was selected as a member of the All-Time AFL Team.  He was a Pro Bowl selection in 1972.  He was the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1974.  He was the NFL Passing Yards Leader and Touchdown Pass Leader in 1972. For his career he completed 1,886 passes for 27,663 yards  and threw 173 touchdowns.  In 1968 he was awarded the Hickok Belt as the Professional Athlete of Year.  The Super Bowl III victory made him the first quarterback to start and win a national championship game in college football and start and win a Super Bowl.  He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.   The Jets retired his jersey number 12.  His brashness on and off the field established him as a sports icon.  On the field, he stood out from other players by wearing low-cut white shoes rather than traditional black high-tops and he originated the fad of wearing a full-length fur coat on the sidelines.  During and after his playing days he parlayed his notoriety into success with endorsement deals, talk show host, pioneering advertising spokesman, theater, motion picture, television actor, sports broadcaster and as a nightclub owner. He remains a highly recognizable figure in the media and sports worlds forty plus years after  his playing days.



Pat Sullivan
 Patrick Joseph Sullivan was born January 18, 1950 in Birmingham, AL.  He played at Auburn University.   He was a two-time All-American in 1970-'71.  He was also an Academic All-American two consecutive years.  He was a two-time SEC Player of the Year in 1970-'71.  In 1970, he was the NCAA total offense leader with 2856 yards and set an NCAA record for most yards per play with 8.57. He also tied an NCAA record for most touchdowns responsible for with 71 (53 passing and 18 rushing).  For his career, he threw 817 passes and completed 454 for 6,284 yards. Both the Birmingham and Atlanta Touchdown Clubs named him SEC Back of the Year in 1970. He won the Sammy Baugh Trophy in 1970.  In 1971 he won college football's most prestigious award  the Heisman Trophy (named for ASHOF inductee and former Auburn head football coach John Heisman).  He also won the Walter Camp Award in 1971.  He was named the Most Valuable Player in both the Gator Bowl (1970) and the Sugar Bowl (1971).  He was also named the Senior Bowl and College All-Star Game MVP's in 1972.  He has been elected to the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.  He has also been elected to the Sugar, Gator and Senior Bowl Halls of Fame.  He was selected in the second round of the 1972 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons.  He played four seasons with the Falcons and split his last season with the Washington Redskins and the San Francisco 49ers.  After his football career he went into private business.  For five years, he worked as a radio color commentator alongside Auburn play-by-play broadcaster (ASHOF inductee) Jim Fyffe on the Auburn Football Network. In 1986, he was named quarterbacks coach at Auburn under head coach (ASHOF inductee) Pat Dye. Auburn won three SEC titles during his six seasons at his Alma Mater.  In 1992, he left Auburn to serve as Head Coach at Texas Christian University (TCU).  In 1994 TCU amassed a 7-5 record  and played in the Independence Bowl, its first post-season appearance in 10 years. For his efforts he was named Southwest Conference Coach of the Year.  In 1999 he accepted the position of offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) where he served for six years.  In 2003 he was diagnosed with throat cancer.  He underwent surgery and then chemotherapy and radiation.  During the ordeal, he only missed coaching one game.  On December 1, 2006, he was named Head Coach at Samford University. In 2013 he lead Samford to the Southern Conference Championship.  Samford also earned their first FCS playoff bid since 1992.  He was Southern Conference Co-Coach of the Year.  He stepped down as Head Football Coach on December 2, 2014 due to health reasons. At the time, he was Samford's all-time leader in wins and led the Bulldogs to four straight winning seasons.  

Arthur P. White 
 Arthur P. White was born December 6, 1915 at Lockhart, AL.  He played for the University of Alabama.   He was All-American at offensive guard in 1936.   During his college career,  he was Phi Beta Kappa and a mathematical wizard earning his B.S. and Masters Degree in four years. He played in the NFL for both the New York Giants and the Chicago Cardinals.  He was named All-Pro with the Giants in 1938 and  Cardinals in 1941. While playing for the Giants, he earned his Doctorate at Columbia University in 1939. After his football career he went into professional wrestling.  He was world heavyweight champion twice. He passed away in January 1996.