Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame Announces its 2018 Class

Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2018 announced

      Two key members of Abilene High’s “Team of the Century” state championship football teams in the 1950s, a defensive back who played in the first-ever Big 12 football game, a former NFL standout, a six-time national champion in the triple jump, a state champion quarterback who became a noted sports agent, and an umpire who has worked the College World Series headline the 2018 inductees in the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame.

Former athletes from Abilene, Cross Plains, Coleman, Colorado City, Stamford, Rising Star and Ranger are included in the Class of 2018, which brings the total number of inductees in the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame to 179. The Hall of Fame honors former athletes and coaches from the 19-county Big Country area.

The 17th annual induction banquet is set for Monday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Abilene Convention Center. Tickets are $65 and tables of 10 can be purchased for $800. To order tickets, go online to bigcountryhalloffame.org or call (325) 668-3685. A portion of table sponsorships 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 $65,000 in college scholarships.

Fred Green and John Thomas were all-state players on the Abilene High state championship football teams in the 1950s. Green was also an all-stater in baseball for the Eagles’ state championship team and still holds several records at the UIL state tournament.

Jody Brown was a standout in track and football at Cross Plains and was a four-year letterman at Texas Tech, playing in the first Big 12 football game in 1996.

Dick Compton from Colorado City still holds a number of football records at McMurry University and played six seasons for the Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Oilers.

Darcell Edwards of Coleman was a six-time NCAA Division III national track and field champion and a 10-time all-American in the long jump and triple jump at McMurry.

Jack Mills was the quarterback on Hall of Fame coach Gordon Wood’s first state championship football team at Stamford in 1955 and is now a noted attorney and sports agent in Colorado.

Mike Morris of Abilene is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement for Officiating. He is a college baseball umpire, who has called numerous NCAA tournament games including the 2015 College World Series.

The Hall of Fame will also recognize two Bill Hart Memorial Legends recipients, who competed before 1950. Honored posthumously will be Gene Alford of Rising Star and Colonel Buster Mills of Ranger. Alford scored the first touchdown in Texas Tech football history, and Mills, a four-sport letterman at the University of Oklahoma, played major league baseball from 1934-46.

Below is a brief biography on each of this year’s inductees:

Jody Brown was a three-time all-state selection in football at Cross Plains. He holds school records with 50 career touchdowns and 4,860 yards rushing. He also played basketball and ran track and was a state champion in both hurdle events. He won two gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the state track meet. He played football four years at Texas Tech, appearing in all 48 games and four bowl games. He helped lead the Red Raiders to a share of the 1994 Southwest Conference championship and was an all-Big 12 defensive back selection in 1996. He also played in first Big 12 football game (Texas Tech at Kansas State).

Dick Compton was a standout in football and basketball at Colorado City. He played football at McMurry from 1958-60 and holds school records for the longest reception for a touchdown, the longest kickoff return and longest run from scrimmage. He played six seasons as a split end and cornerback in the NFL and the AFL for the Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Oilers. He had 42 catches for 503 yards and was the Steelers’ offensive MVP in 1967. He was named to the Wall of Honor in Colorado City in 2011 and the McMurry Hall of Fame in 2017.

Darcell Edwards of Coleman was a six-time national champion in NCAA Division III and a 10-time Division III all-American in the long jump and triple jump at McMurry. She holds the NCAA Division III record in the triple jump at 44-feet-2-inches and qualified for the 2004 Olympic Trials.

Fred Green was an all-state punter and all-state end in 1955 at Abilene High and an all-state baseball player as well. He still holds the record for most doubles and the most RBIs in the state baseball tournament. He played on state championship football teams in 1954 and 1955 at Abilene High and the Eagles’ state championship baseball team in 1956. Following high school, Green turned down a bonus offer from the Detroit Tigers. He originally signed with SMU and then went to the University of Houston, where he played football and was also a member of the Cougars’ baseball team that went to the College World Series in 1961.

A.J. (Jack) Mills Jr., was a co-captain quarterback and valedictorian on Gordon Wood’s first state championship team at Stamford in 1955. After graduating with two degrees from Oklahoma, he became an assistant athletic director at the University of Colorado in 1965-66. He is now in private law practice in Boulder, Colo., specializing in representation of hundreds of professional athletes, including Eric Dickerson, Tony Boselli and pro golfer Hale Irwin, as well as his newest client, Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma. Mills is the founder and managing partner of Ascent Sports Management.

Mike Morris, a graduate of Abilene Cooper, is the seventh official to be named  a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement for Officiating in the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame and the first baseball umpire. He has reached the pinnacle of collegiate baseball umpiring by calling games in  the College World Series. To date, he has worked 11 college regional tournaments, six super regionals and the 2015 College World Series. He also worked the Big 12 championship tournament 14 times.

John Thomas was an all-state nose guard and offensive lineman for the 1954 state championship football team at Abilene High. He led the team in tackles. Abilene coach Chuck Moser once called him the best player he ever coached. Thomas originally went to Allen Academy in Bryan, which was a prep school for Texas A&M. He decided not to attend Texas A&M, however, instead transferring to McMurry, where he was a two-time all-American lineman.

 Bill Hart Memorial Legends Award Recipients

Gene Alford from Rising Star was quarterback/halfback at Daniel Baker in Brownwood and then transferred to Texas Tech and later to Sul Ross State. Coach Pete Shotwell, then at Sul Ross, called Alford the best player he ever coached. Alford scored the first touchdown in Texas Tech football history. He also starred in track and baseball in college. He played for the Portsmouth Spartans (which later became the Detroit Lions) professionally in the 1930s.

Colonel Buster Mills from Ranger was a four-sport standout at Oklahoma (All-American quarterback/halfback in football, an outfielder in baseball, a guard in basketball and threw the javelin for the track team). He enjoyed a lengthy major league baseball career from 1934-46 with the Cardinals, Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees and Indians. He managed the Cincinnati Reds for the final eight games in 1953 and then spent years as a scout for the A’s and Yankees.

For more information, contact Al Pickett, chairman of the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame, at (325) 668-3014.