The first class of the Gainesville athletics Hall of Fame will be inducted on Saturday. To mark the occasion, The Times will write a profile on each of the six inaugural members. Also inducted, will be former Red Elephants football coach Bobby Gruhn, and the 1956-57 Fair Street High football program that won back-to-back state titles during the segregation era.
Here’s a schedule for when stories will run in the print edition of The Times:
WEDNESDAY: Micah Owings
The hard-throwing right-handed pitcher was also one of the state’s best sluggers, who bashed 69 career home runs. After two superb seasons with the Red Elephants in 2001 and 2002, he was an All-American at Georgia Tech (2004) and was part of Tulane’s College World Series team in 2005. A third-round draft pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks, he pitched seven years in the MLB.
WEDNESDAY: Tommy Aaron
A three-sport athlete in high school, Aaron put Gainesville on the map as he staved off the competition to win the 1973 Masters in Augusta. Aaron is one of only two Masters champions from the state of Georgia. As a Red Elephants standout in the 1950s, he was most well known on campus as the quarterback of the football program. He was a golf revolutionary growing up, finding a way to learn his professional craft in a community without an 18-hole golf course.
THURSDAY: Tasha Humphrey
The four-year standout accomplished everything possible for a high school player. She was key to three Gainesville state championship teams, twice named Miss Georgia Basketball and was a McDonald’s All-American as a senior in 2004. At the University of Georgia, she finished second in school history in scoring (2,272 points). Humphrey was also the 2005 National and SEC Freshman of the Year with the Bulldogs, and a three-time first-team All-SEC. Following her college career, Humphrey was selected by the Detroit Shock with the 11th overall pick in the 2008 WNBA draft.
FRIDAY: Tommy West
As a four-year letterman for the Red Elephants, West was an elite player in football, basketball and baseball. The 1972 Gainesville graduate was a stalwart at running back for the football program, three time Gainesville High School defensive player of the year in basketball, and a fifth-round draft pick by the Chicago Cubs out of high school. As a senior, West was the Lanierland basketball tournament MVP. In college, West was a three-year football letterman at the University of Tennessee, making 32 consecutive starts.
FRIDAY: Tom Paris Sr.
One of the most diverse backgrounds for a Red Elephants athlete belongs to Tom Paris Sr. In the 1920s, he was quarterback of the football program, forward in basketball, two-position player in baseball and elite sprinter for the track and field team. He earned 16 athletic letterman awards at Gainesville. As quarterback of the Red Elephants, he guided the program to a 29-0 record his final three years. In college, Paris was quarterback for four years at Georgia, notably guiding it to an upset win against Yale, 15-0, during the first game played at Sanford Stadium in 1929.
SATURDAY: Cris Carpenter
During a time of considerable athletic success across the board, Carpenter was one of the Red Elephants’ best athletes, earning State Athlete of the Year honors in 1984. In the early 1980s, Carpenter was part of back-to-back state championship teams in basketball for the Red Elephants. He was also a key cog for the football program that finished state runner-up in 1983. A prestigious baseball talent, Carpenter played at the University of Georgia in football and baseball. He was a first-round draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals, playing eight years in the big leagues.
SATURDAY: Bobby Gruhn
His name is etched forever in the fabric of Red Elephants football, serving as head coach of the program from 1963-1992. During his tenure, the Red Elephants put together 23-straight winning seasons, earned 17 region championships and played four times for the state title. His son, Matthew, will pen a column, talking about the impact his father had in his 38 years with the Red Elephants football program.
SUNDAY: Fair Street Tigers football program
While schools were still segregated, Fair Street dominated in the late 1950s, winning back-to-back state championships in 1956-57. In 1956, the Tigers went 12-1 and the following season posted a perfect 12-0 mark.