Lackey, Warren, Goodenough headline 2019 Class in Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame
Former Major League pitcher John Lackey, former Abilene High football coach Steve Warren and current Abilene Christian University women’s basketball coach Julie Goodenough headline a list of 11 new inductees into the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame.
The 18th annual banquet is set for May 6 at the Abilene Convention Center. Tickets are $65 each and tables of 10 can be purchased for $800, which includes the VIP reception. To order tickets, go online to bigcountryhalloffame.org or call (325) 668-3685. A portion of table sponsorship will go to the college scholarship endowment. The Hall of Fame will again award 12 $1,000 college scholarships to graduating senior athletes from the Big Country. Including this year, the Hall of Fame will have given out $77,000 in college scholarships.
Lackey, Warren and Goodenough will be honored along with former national champion skeet shooter Jackie Ramsey Cox, former state champion and NCAA champion gymnast Mark Oates and former Abilene Wylie girls basketball coach Stanley Whisenhunt.
The 2019 Legacy Award recipients are brothers Ernie, Charlie and Don Davis of Stamford. The Bill Hart Legends Award for those who competed more than 50 years ago will be awarded posthumously to Elijah Childers, who played football, basketball and track at Abilene Woodson High School, and Ellis Jones, a former Abilene High football player who played linebacker in the National Football League despite having lost an arm in a childhood accident.
The Lifetime Achievement for Media award goes to Lance Kitchens of Breckenridge, who has been the voice of the Buckaroos in football for 38 years.
The Hall of Fame board of directors is also introducing a new award this year, called the “Impact on Big Country Athletics” Award for someone who didn’t necessarily qualify as a former athlete or coach in the Big Country but made a significant impact on the Big Country. The first recipient will be the late Myrle Greathouse, a former oilman and philanthropist who played football at the University of Oklahoma.
Their inductions will bring the total number of inductees in the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame to more than 190.
Here is a brief biography on each of this year’s inductees:
John Lackey, a three-sport standout at Abilene High, pitched in the major leagues for the Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs from 2002-2017. He compiled a career record of 188-147 with 2,294 strikeouts and a career earned run average of 3.92. Lackey, who helped Grayson College to the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship before being drafted by the Angels, was a three-time World Series champion and was the winning pitcher in the deciding game in two World Series. When he retired following the 2017 season, he was the second winningest active pitcher in baseball.
Steve Warren led Abilene High to the Class 5A Division II 2009 state football championship. He compiled a record of 175-68 in 19 seasons at AHS from 1996-2014 as the school’s all-time leader in wins. His career coaching record is 190-82, which included stints at Wall and Rotan. Abilene High hadn’t been to the state playoffs for 40 years until Warren guided the Eagles to the regional finals in 1999. Warren and the Eagles reached the playoffs in 15 of the next 16 years.
Julie Roewe Goodenough, a native of Haskell, played on a Western Texas College team that went to the National Junior College Athletic Association national basketball tournament. She then played at Texas-Arlington, becoming one of the first Big Country girls to receive a Division I basketball scholarship. She has won more than 425 games in 25 seasons as a college basketball coach. From 1993-2002, Goodenough was head coach at Hardin-Simmons, which transitioned from NAIA Division II to NCAA Division III in 1996. In nine seasons, Goodenough went 188-52 at HSU. Under Goodenough, Hardin–Simmons made the Division III national tournament four consecutive times from 1999-2002, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 2000. From 2002-2005, she served as the head women’s basketball coach at Oklahoma State. She then coached at Charleston Southern from 2006-12 before being hired at Abilene Christian in 2012. Her ACU teams won back-to-back Southland Conference titles in 2016 and 2017, and she is in the Hardin-Simmons Hall of Fame.
Jackie Ramsey Cox, 1970 graduate of Abilene Cooper, was an All-American skeet shooter and a seven-time world champion. She was a member of the young, upstart Texas Whiz Kids who won the 5-man team 12 gauge World Championship in 1972 at Rochester, New York with a score of 1242×1250. She once held a women’s world record for all-around high mark in skeet shooting. Cox won a Pan American gold medal and was invited twice to join the U.S. Olympic Skeet Shooting Team but was unable to compete due to school and career obligations. Cox set numerous world records, some of which have never been broken in 40 years. She has been inducted into the National Skeet Shooting Association Hall of Fame and the Texas Skeet Shooting Association Hall of Fame.
Mark Oates, a 1981 graduate of Abilene High, is the most decorated gymnast in Abilene history and is the first gymnast selected to the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame. He won the Class 5A state all-around championship in 1981. He was then a three-time all-American in gymnastics at the University of Oklahoma. He won a NCAA championship in the vault in 1983 and was a member of the USA Gymnastics team in 1988. Oates just missed making the 1988 U.S. Olympic team.
Stanley Whisenhunt was the long-time girls basketball coach at Abilene Wylie where he was known as just Stanley by his students and players in the 1960s and ‘70s. His teams won 15 consecutive district championships and two regional championships. His team captured third place in the Class A girls basketball state tournament and then won the state title in 1970. He coached, taught and was a school administrator at Wylie from 1959-85 and was the Wylie superintendent during the school’s major growth period. He has been inducted into the Wylie Hall of Honor and the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame. Whisenhunt also served as president of the Texas High School Girls Coaches Association.
The Davis brothers (Ernie, Charlie and Donald) from Stamford will receive the Legacy Award. All three are in the McMurry University Athletic Hall of Honor. Ernie graduated from Stamford in 1955, where he played football and ran track. He was a Little All-American at McMurry where he scored 104 points in 1958 (ranked fifth best in the nation). Ernie ranks 13th in McMurry history in career rushing (1,643 yards). He was drafted in the 23rd round of NFL Draft by Pittsburgh Steelers and in the AFL draft by the New York Titans. Ernie coached for 13 years at several places, including Cisco, Port Neches, Littlefield, Odessa and Slaton. Charlie (deceased) graduated from Stamford in 1953. He was all-state in high school and is a member of the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame. He was an all-American at McMurry in 1957 and 1958 and was selected by the New York Titans (Jets) in the 1960 AFL draft. Charlie coached at Graham, Anson, Rotan and Olney. Donald (deceased) was all-state and a key contributor on two state championship football teams and one state championship track team at Stamford. He graduated in 1959. Donald competed in multiple state track meets in the long jump and relays. He has the fourth longest kickoff return in McMurry history (93 yards in 1961). He played three years at McMurry under fellow Hall of Famer Grant Teaff and was drafted in the 20th round of the NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers in 1963. He coached at Cleburne and Lorenzo before starting a career with Levi Strauss & Co. in 1969.
Elijah Childers (deceased) graduated from Woodson High School in Abilene before integration where he was a three-year letterman in football, basketball and track. He started at tackle on offense and defense at Prairie View A&M, where he was all-SWAC in 1954-55. Prairie View won four consecutive SWAC titles and was crowned national champions of the Negro League in 1953 and 1954. He also lettered in track. Childers played for the Detroit Lions in 1955 and 1956 and the Cleveland Browns in 1957. He later played a season with the Ottawa Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League before leaving pro football because of knee problems. He coached in Cuero, Sweeney, Aldine and Houston from 1958-91. He was named to the Prairie View A&M Hall of Fame in 1988.
Ellis Jones (deceased) played football at Abilene High from 1939-41. He then played guard and linebacker at Tulsa where he was a first-team all-American and played for the College All-Stars in their annual game against the defending NFL champion Chicago Bears in 1944. He then played one year for the Boston Yankees in the NFL, accomplishing all of that despite having lost an arm in a childhood accident at age 11. He died in 2002 in Greeley, Colorado, at the age of 80.
Lance Kitchens, who has been in the broadcasting industry for 38 years, has been the “Voice of Buckaroo Sports” since 1984 in Breckenridge. When he was dismissed from the broadcasts by Palo Pinto Communications, the community of Breckenridge created such as uproar that he returned to the airwaves for the 2017-18 basketball season under the ownership of “For the Love of the Game Broadcasting.” A graduate of Midland Lee, he coached and taught in Childress and Quanah before moving to Breckenridge in 1973. He and his wife bought Melton-Kitchens Funeral Home in Breckenridge in 1988. Recently, the ownership at KLXK/KROO Radio in Breckenridge began a scholarship to honor Kitchens for his contribution to the broadcast industry and the community of Breckenridge.
Myrle Greathouse was a two-way all-state player at linebacker and running back at Amarillo High, helping the Sandies win a state championship in 1940. Following his service in World War II, he was a three-year letterman in football at the University of Oklahoma under legendary coach Bud Wilkinson.He was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals. In 1954 Greathouse went to work for Wes-Tex Drilling Company in Abilene, a company he later owned. His civic and business involvement included Chairman of the West Texas Rehabilitation Center of Abilene, a director of the First National Bank of Abilene, a director of the Board of Crockett County National Bank of San Angelo and Ozona, a director of the West Central Texas Oil and Gas Association, board member of the Petroleum Museum, and past president of the Petroleum Club of Abilene. He was named the 1988 Oilman of the Year by the West Central Texas Oil and Gas Association, and was inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame in March, 1996. He died in 2000, and the annual Myrle Greathouse/Big Country Fellowship of Christian Athletes All-Star Football game in Abilene is named in his honor for his years of support of youth sports in the Big Country.