Clemson’s legendary baseball coach Bill Wilhelm and former Augusta National Club Chairman Hootie Johnson lead the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012.
The Class of 2012 also consists of South Carolina’s football great Duce Staley and former baseball coach June Raines; Clemson basketball standout Dale Davis; Spartanburg High’s Stephen Davis; NASCAR executive Jim Hunter and AAU legend Evelyn “Eckie” Jordan.
Wilhelm and Hunter will be enshrined posthumously.
The eight individuals will be inducted to the state’s highest athletic honor on May 14 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Tickets (table of eight for $500) and program sponsorships may be purchased by calling the SCAHOF office at 803-779-0905. The affair, which includes a reception, dinner and a raffle, begins at 5:30 p.m.
In addition to the inductees donning of the symbolic blue jackets, the Bobby Richardson Sportsmanship Award recipient will also be honored. The event, which includes a host of returning past inductees, is the largest annual celebration of Palmetto State sports stars under one roof. Legendary South Carolina State coach and 2008 SCAHOF President Willie Jeffries, known for his wit and witticism, will again preside over the banquet as master of ceremonies along with Executive Director Ephraim Ulmer and this year’s president, Charles R. Thompson, Jr. of Charleston.
BILL WILHELM: A 2011 inductee of the National College Baseball Hall of Fame, Coach Bill Wilhelm coached at Clemson for 36 years (1958-93) and never had a losing season. His 1,161 win total was fifth-best in the nation at the time of his retirement and still is in the top 20. He led Clemson to 19 regular-season ACC Championships, seven ACC Tournament titles, and remains the career wins leader in the ACC with 381. Wilhelm’s teams were immediately successful, with the 28-year-old head coach taking his first two teams to the College World Series in Omaha in 1958 and 1959. His teams would return to Omaha four more times in 1976, ‘77, ‘80 and ‘91. Among Wilhelm’s legacies was his invention of the ACC Tournament, which began in 1973 and provided the template for other conferences around the nation. From 1973-85, Wilhelm’s teams either won the ACC title or played in the championship game, a streak that speaks to the dominance of the baseball program under his leadership. Wilhelm coached 88 First-Team All-ACC selections and had 100 players sign professional contracts, with 27 players advancing to Major League careers. Wilhelm’s last team in 1993 provided a fitting farewell for the legendary coach, winning the ACC Tournament in dramatic fashion with a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning. The win earned Wilhelm his seventh tournament title, and in addition to 19 regular-season titles, gave him 26 ACC Championships in 36 years of coaching. He passed away in 2010.
HOOTIE JOHNSON: William W. “Hootie” Johnson, a member of Augusta National since 1968, became club chairman in 1998. He oversaw significant changes to the famous golf course, modified The Masters Golf Tournament qualifications for invitation, initiated 18-hole TV coverage and guided sizable charitable donations by the club. Johnson, who won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as a fullback at the University of South Carolina, embarked on a stellar banking career in 1953 in his hometown of Greenwood. In 1965, at age 34, he became the youngest president of a major bank (Banker’s Trust of South Carolina) in the Palmetto State. He retired in 2001 as chairman of the executive committee of the Bank of America Corp. in Charlotte.
DALE DAVIS: A 6-11, 252-pound big man who played basketball from 1987-91, Dale Davis is one of the best basketball players ever to play at Clemson. In 2000, he became the first men’s basketball player inducted into Clemson’s Ring of Honor. While at Clemson, he was an honorable mention All-American and the first ACC player to lead the conference in both rebounding and field goal percentage in consecutive years. He is one of just three players in conference history to accumulate 1,500 points, 1,200 rebounds, and 200 blocked shots in a career. He was named an All-ACC player three times, becoming only the fourth Clemson player to do so. He helped lead the Tigers to an ACC championship in 1990, the first title in program history. At the time of his graduation, he ranked in the Top-10 in ACC history in three categories and is one of only four players to lead the conference in rebounding three straight seasons. After graduating with a degree in management, Davis was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the 1991 NBA Draft (13th overall). In his first nine years, he led the Pacers in field goal percentage and is ranked first in team history in that category and rebounding. In 2000, he was selected to participate in the NBA All-Star game. He played in the Final Four of the NBA Finals four times and was ranked 22nd in NBA history in career field goal percentage. He also played for Portland, Golden State, New Orleans and Detroit, and was inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame in 1996.
STEPHEN DAVIS: A Spartanburg native and a graduate of Spartanburg High, Davis played three years (1993-95) for Auburn University starting in his sophomore year. He made the All-SEC team his last two seasons and graduated as the team’s fourth all-time leading rusher behind Joe Cribbs, James Brooks and Bo Jackson. He held the record for rush attempts (1,945), rush yards (8,052) and rushing TDs (65) amongst all Auburn alumni in NFL history. He was drafted in the fourth round (103rd overall) in the 1996 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, where he was a fullback. He spent three seasons as a backup and fullback before getting the starting nod at the start of the 1999 season. That was his breakout season as he posted career highs and ended up representing the NFC in the Pro Bowl. Davis led the NFC in yards rushing with 1,405, and led the league in yards per carry (4.8). He was also the league’s leading non-kicking scorer, posting 108 points on 17 touchdowns and one 2-point conversion. He continued to post high numbers the following season en route to his second straight Pro Bowl selection. In 2001, Davis rushed for 1,432 yards, breaking the record he set in 1999 for most rushing yards in a season by a Redskin. He signed with the Carolina Panthers for the start of the ’03 season, and was a catalyst in leading the team to Super Bowl XXXVIII. Davis rushed for a career-high 1,444 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, and also finished in the top three for the NFL MVP voting that year.
JIM HUNTER: A Charleston native and longtime NASCAR executive, Jim Hunter started with NASCAR in 1968 as the public relations director Darlington International Raceway and then as president of the “Track Too Tough to Tame.” He implemented most the changes and improvements at the historic track when he served as president from 1993-01. Between his stints at Darlington, he worked as the PR director at Talladega Raceway. His climb up the NASCAR hierarchy put him in his final position of VP of Corporate Communications. NASCAR honored him by naming its track series standings the “Hunter Index” for Hunter’s work over the years in making the truck series an integral part of the business of racing. Hunter, one of the guiding forces behind NASCAR’s ascent from a regional to a national sport, played football and baseball at USC and then joined The State newspaper in the 60’s where he earned the nickname “Fumes” for his coverage of NASCAR. He passed away in 2010.
EVELYN “ECKIE” JORDAN: A diminutive guard, Eckie Jordan led her undefeated Pelzer High team in 1942 and dominated the women’s amateur basketball league in North Carolina, leading the Hanes Hosiery team of the Southern Textile league to 102 consecutive victories (the streak included three National AAU Championships (1951, ’52 & ‘53). She received the Teague Award in 1953 as the Carolinas’ most outstanding athlete. The five-time AAU All-American starred for the U.S. Gold Medal team at the 1955 Pan-Am Games. She also shined in softball and tennis in the Winston-Salem area. Jordan has been inducted into the National AAU Basketball Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and the NC Softball Hall of Fame. Her jersey rotates with those of George Mikan and Bob Cousy in the Smithsonian Museum.
JUNE RAINES: June Raines coached USC baseball from 1977-96, replacing Bobby Richardson, and finished his tenure as the program’s all-time winningest coach at the time with a 763-380-2 record in 20 years. He took the Gamecocks to four College World Series (1977, ‘81, ’82 & ‘85), and finished as runner-up in 1977. Overall, he led Carolina to 11 NCAA tournaments and won four Regionals. He also had nine 40-win seasons and during the 1980s witnessed the program’s most successful run during his tenure as the Gamecocks made eight NCAA Tournaments, including seven straight from 1980-1986.
DUCE STALEY: A graduate of Airport High in West Columbia, Duce Staley, as a Gamecock senior in 1996, was ranked 13th in the nation in rushing with 1,116 rushing yards. In his South Carolina career, he attempted 345 rushes for 1,582 yards (4.58 per average) and also caught 59 passes for 489 yards and two touchdowns. Staley was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1997 NFL Draft and played for the Eagles through the ’03 season. He developed into the team’s perennial leading receiver through the Eagles’ screen-heavy West Coast offense, and later signed with Pittsburgh in ’04, becoming their top running back and was seen as the eventual heir apparent for Jerome Bettis. In 2005, the Steelers won Super Bowl XL, giving Staley his first-ever championship. He officially retired as a Philadelphia Eagle during the Eagles-Giants game on December 9, 2007, and currently serves as the team’s special teams quality control coach.