Southwest Conference Hall of Fame Adds 15 Former Baylor Greats
WACO, Texas – Fifteen former Bears will join the all-time greats in the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame September 8, 2017. This induction class includes Danny Brabham (track and field), Fritz Connally (baseball), Todd Harbour (track and field), Don Heathington (basketball), Vinnie Johnson (basketball), Jack Lummus (football and baseball), Bill Menefee (men’s basketball coach and athletic director), Deon Minor (track and field), Steve Macko (baseball), Natalie Nalepa (track and cross country), Del Shofner (football, track and field, and baseball), Stacey Bowers-Smith (track and field), Mickey Sullivan (baseball, football, baseball coach), Ricky Thompson (football and track and field), and Micheal Williams (basketball). The Southwest Conference Hall of Fame is one of four separate halls of fame housed within the Texas Sports Hall of Fame located in Waco. Members of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame are automatically included in the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame.
The 2017 induction class will be enshrined during a luncheon Friday September 8th at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. The induction class will also be recognized Saturday September 9th at the Baylor football game against UTSA. For luncheon tickets, please contact Emily McAnsh at 254-756-1633.
2017 Southwest Conference Hall of Fame Induction Class
Track and Field
Referred to by Coach Clyde Hart as the most versatile athlete he has ever coached, Danny Brabham was one of the all-time greatest long jumpers in Southwest Conference history. While competing at Baylor, Brabham excelled in the sprints, relays, high jump, hurdles, and pole vault, but the long jump was where his greatest success came. Brabham burst onto the scene in 1971 when he became Baylor’s first NCAA track All-American after finishing second at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Brabham then won the SWC long jump title in 1972 and 1973, setting conference records both years. Other major titles Brabham won included the 1971 Texas Relays and the 1971, 72, 73 Kansas Relays. In his career at Baylor, Brabham was voted Baylor’s Outstanding Track Man four consecutive years, and was voted Baylor’s Outstanding Athlete in 1971. After competing for Baylor, Brabham coached track and field for 44 years including 28 years at Baylor. Brabham was inducted into the Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991.
One of the best sluggers to ever come through Baylor, Fritz Connally led Baylor baseball to the program’s first two College World Series appearances as well as two Southwest Conference tournament Championships. Connally was an All-Southwest Conference selection in all four of his years at Baylor. His performance in the 1978 College World Series Tournament earned him regional MVP honors after going 7-14 and knocking in 4 RBIs. In his career, Connally was well known for how well he could swing the bat. Connally led the Bears in homeruns in 1978, 79, and 80, hits in 1980, and RBI’s in 1980. When he graduated, Connally was Baylor’s all-time homerun hitter after racking up 38 in his career (now fifth on that list). Connally was inducted into the Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996, and is also a member of the Pasadena Texas Athletic Hall of Fame.
Track and Field
As one of Baylor’s most legendary track athletes, Todd Harbour’s speed in the 1,500-meter run and the mile run remains unmatched at Baylor. Harbour holds the school mark in the 1,500-meter run and the mile run after his productive 4 year career for the Bears. His 3:50.34 run at Oslo, Norway his senior year is still the fastest mile ever run by a collegiate athlete. While at Baylor, Harbour was the Southwest Conference Champion in the 1,500-meter run four years in a row (1978-1981). Harbour went on to run in the NCAA championships for the 1,500 meter run and earned a second place finish in 1979, 1980, and 1981. After graduating from Baylor, Harbour ran professionally for Nike and was one of the world’s top milers. Harbour was the head track and field coach for the Bears from 2005 to 2017 and was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992. Harbour was also inducted into the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
Don Heathington (deceased)
After enlisting in the United States Navy at 17 and serving in World War II for 4 years, Don Heathington enrolled at Baylor and joined the Men’s Basketball team. Heathington immediately became a crucial piece to the Baylor basketball team as he led his team to three consecutive Southwest Conference Championships (1948-1950) and two final four appearances (1948 & 1950). In 1948, the Bears made it to the NCAA championship game and finished runner-up; the best finish in school history. In 1950, Heathington was selected to the NCAA All-Tournament team after leading his team in points during the tournament. In his three seasons at Baylor, Heathington received All-Southwest Conference recognition each year and led his team in points his junior and senior seasons. Heathington joined Baylor’s 1,000 point club after racking up a total of 1,040 points placing him 18th in career points scored. Heathington was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 1975.
One of the most prolific scorers in Baylor Basketball history, Vinnie “the Microwave” Johnson averaged 24.1 points per game in his two seasons in Waco. A two-time All-American and All-Southwest Conference selection, Johnson is the school record-holder in points-per-game average, ranks 15th in career points, and third in career assists at Baylor. Johnson also holds the Baylor record for most points scored in a game after dropping 50 points against TCU in 1979. After his prolific career with the Bears, Johnson was chosen seventh overall in the 1979 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics and was traded to the Detroit Pistons. Johnson was a member of the 1989 and 1990 NBA Championship teams. His NBA career stats are some of the highest of any Baylor Bear to play in the league. Johnson was inducted to the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991, and his No. 15 Jersey was retired by the Pistons in 1994.
Jack Lummus (Deceased)
The two sport star Jack Lummus was dominant on the baseball field and the football field for the Baylor Bears. In his time at Baylor, Lummus received All-Southwest Conference recognition in both baseball and football. Many considered Lummus to be the greatest defensive center fielder in the history of Baylor Baseball. On the gridiron, Lummus was a two-year starter and was a Second-Team All-American in his senior year. Lummus played for the New York Giants before he answered the Call of Duty and joined the Marine Corps. While in serving in World War II, First Lt. Lummus posthumously received the Medal of honor for his “outstanding valor, skilled tactics, and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds” in Iwo Jima. Lt. Lummus was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 1984 as well as the New York Giants Ring of Honor in 2015.
Bill Menefee (Deceased)
Head Basketball Coach, Athletic Director
Bill Menefee took the reins of the varsity basketball program in 1962 and accumulated a 12-year record of 149-144 that included Southwest Conference runner-up finishes in 1967, ’68, 69, and ‘71. Menefee earned Southwest Conference Coach of the Year honors three times in his career at Baylor, and racked up 108 wins over his last seven seasons before retiring in 1973. In 1980, Menefee took over as Baylor’s Athletic Director. In his 12 years as Athletic Director, Menefee saw the bears win the 1980 Southwest Conference Championship and go to five bowl games in football; and make the NIT (1987) and NCAA Tournament (1988) in men’s basketball. Bill Menefee was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997.
Track and Field
Before Deon Minor showed up to Baylor, he was already a 400 meter champion. After winning the 400 meter race at the Pan American Junior Athletics Championship in 1991, Minor joined Coach Clyde Hart at Baylor. At Baylor, Minor went on to have a prolific college career. Minor earned 14 All-American honors and won 4 NCAA titles. This success came primarily in his best event: the 400 meter run. In 1992 and 1995, Minor made it to the NCAA Indoor championships and walked away as the champion. Minor also found success with the 4x400 meter relay team after becoming the NCAA Indoor Champion in 1992 and NCAA Outdoor Champion in 1995. In 1992, Minor ran his fastest 400 meter run at a blazing 44.75 in Austin, Texas. Later that year, Minor went on to take the world junior title in Seoul. Minor was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.
Steve Macko (Deceased)
In the two years that Steve Macko played for the Baylor Bears, Macko developed into a fearless leader. In his senior season with the Bears, Macko led his team to their first ever College World Series Appearance. Macko’s .417 season batting average helped the Bears win the Southwest Conference tournament, and also helped the Bears claw their way through the loser’s bracket to make it to the College World Series. His .417 batting average ranks fourth in school history and is the best batting average for Baylor in the aluminum bat era. Macko’s career batting average of .370 remains the best in Baylor baseball history. In his senior season, Macko earned All-Southwest Conference honors as well as All-American honors. Macko was voted by his teammates to win the inaugural Larry Isbell Baylor MVP award in 1977. Macko was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 1988.
Track and Cross Country
As a five-time All-American for Baylor’s cross country and track programs, Natalie Nalepa wasted no time in emerging as the Bears’ first true female running star. Nalepa first joined the Baylor women’s track team as a miler and a half-miler in 1989, the year Baylor founded its women’s track program. By the time she was a senior, Nalepa grew into a more versatile runner as she competed in the 1,500 meters, the mile, the 3,000 meters, and the 5,000 meters. Nalepa’s senior year in 1991 included five Southwest Conference titles in the indoor mile, indoor 3,000 meters, outdoor 1,500 meters, outdoor 3,000 meters, and outdoor 5,000 meters. Nalepa was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002.
Football Track, Basketball
Del Shofner was a multi-sport star at Baylor as he stared on the Football field, the Basketball court, and the track. Shofner, most known for his performance on the gridiron, played running back, defensive back, and even punted for the Baylor Bears. In the 1956-1957 season, Shofner scored a Southwest Conference leading 11 touchdowns and lead the Bears to the 1957 Sugar Bowl. Thanks to Shofner’s 88 rushing yards, interception, and excellent punts, the Bears went on to win the Sugar Bowl 13-7 against the #2 ranked Tennessee Volunteers. Shofner’s performance earned him game’s most outstanding player. Shofner went on to play in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants where he was a 5-time Pro Bowler. Shofner was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 1970.
Track and Field
The most decorated female athlete in the program’s history, Bowers-Smith was a nine-time All-American and four-time conference champion who still holds the top 10 marks indoors and outdoors in the triple jump. She earned more individual All-American honors (six) than any other female athlete in school history and is tied with three others for the most overall. While the triple jump became her specialty, Smith was originally recruited to run the program’s signature event, the 4x400-meter relay. Bowers-Smith became Baylor’s first female individual NCAA champion when she won the 1999 outdoor triple jump title. Bowers-Smith was the first female athlete to become a member of a U.S. National team. Bowers-Smith was inducted into the Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009 and is currently an assistant coach for the Baylor track team.
Mickey Sullivan (Deceased)
Baseball, Football, Head Baseball Coach
Mickey Sullivan was a standout football and baseball player at Baylor in the 1950’s where he lettered three seasons in football and 3 seasons in baseball. Sullivan’s career on the diamond for the Bears was one of the most prolific careers for Baylor. Sullivan was one of the only players to receive First-team All-American honors in two seasons for the Bears. He also racked up three All-Southwest Conference selections. Sullivan’s senior season was highlighted by his Southwest Conference leading .519 batting average for the conference games. As Sullivan’s playing career came to a close, he pursued a career in coaching. Sullivan was first hired by Grant Teaff as an assistant football coach where he was then hired two years later to be the head coach for the Baylor baseball team. In his 21 seasons as head coach, Sullivan racked up 649 wins, 3 Southwest Conference Tournament titles, and 2 College World Series appearances. Sullivan was inducted into the Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame in 1983.
Lettering both in football and in track, Ricky Thompson showcased his speed both on the gridiron and on the track. Thompson was a member of one of the most memorable teams in school history after the 1974 Baylor Bears pulled off a Southwest Conference Championship. “The Miracle on the Brazos” team shocked everyone after being projected to finish last in the conference, and eventually winning the whole Southwest Conference Championship. Ricky Thompson was a crucial factor in the team’s success. In his three year career at Baylor, Thompson racked up 863 receiving yards for the Bears after starting every game each season. In the Cotton Bowl, Thompson hauled in two touchdown catches of the three scored by the Bears. After graduation, Thompson entered the NFL where he played 7 seasons, primarily with the Washington Redskins. After his NFL career, Thompson returned to Baylor where he served as a sideline reporter on radio broadcasts for Baylor football. Thompson was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992.
Micheal Williams’ career with the Baylor basketball team was prolific to say the least. Starting out his freshman year, Williams started every Southwest Conference game and was named to the Southwest Conference Newcomer Team. Associated Press also named him SWC Freshman of the Year. In his junior season, Williams led the SWC in steals with 93, was third in scoring after averaging 17.2 points per game, and was fourth in assists with 157. This performance led him to an All-SWC selection and an honorable mention All-American selection. In his senior season, Williams performed extremely well where he earned All- Conference and All-American recognition. For his outstanding play, Williams was selected by Dave Campbell on the All-Time All-SWC Baylor Basketball Team. He was drafted by the Detroit Pistons and played 10 years in the NBA. Williams was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001.