by Doug Ireland
It’s summer, time to enjoy trips and festivities and fireworks and STARS
It’s summer now, so one of the biggest events (well, seven actually) of every year in Cenla is on the horizon.
Ordinarily, the annual three-day Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration – including the Bowling Bash at Four Seasons Bowling Center in Alexandria – is staged on the weekend after Father’s Day, in late June.
This year, we’re several weeks away. The 2023 LSHOF festivities are Thursday, July 27 through Saturday, July 29, with the Celebrity Bowling Bash presented by BOM set for lunchtime Friday, July 28.
Friday’s a great day – after a fun-filled outing indoors in Alexandria for lunch, music and kegling, the LSHOF throws its big riverfront concert that evening, the Rockin’ Riverfest in Natchitoches on the downtown Cane River Lake stage, presented by Rapides Regional Medical Center. The show is absolutely free with a fireworks show about 9:15, right after the Class of 2023 inductees are introduced on stage.
Also free – the Thursday evening Welcome Reception at the LSHOF museum, presented by La. Capitol Federal Credit Union, and the Saturday morning Junior Training Camp led by staff from the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, and coaches and athletes from NSU.
The four events requiring ticket purchases: the Bowling Bash, the Friday Night VIP Taste of Tailgating Party presented by Hancock Whitney held in conjunction with the Rockin’ Riverfest, then Saturday’s Round Table Luncheon presented by the Tiger Athletic Foundation, and the culmination of the festivities, the Reception and Induction Ceremony Saturday evening presented by State Farm Insurance agents of Louisiana. Visit LaSportsHall.com for more information and to make secure online purchases.
What about the stars of the show? Once again, it’s a dynamic dozen.
Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, a New Orleans native, joins four-time WNBA All-Star Alana Beard from Shreveport and College World Series champion LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri in a 10- member group of 2023 competitive ballot inductees
The LSHOF Class of 2023 also includes New Orleans native Ron Washington, who managed the Texas Rangers to a pair of World Series appearances and last year helped the Atlanta Braves win the world’s championship; two-time LSU track and field USA Olympian and world champion Walter Davis; and Slidell native, Tulane great and Chicago Bears two-time Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte.
Also gearing up for induction are All-American LSU pitcher Paul Byrd, a 14-year Major League Baseball veteran who made the 1999 All-Star Game; Shreveport native Wendell Davis, who shattered LSU football receiving records before heading to the NFL; multiple national champion and world class weightlifter Walter Imahara, a UL-Lafayette legend; and retired Baton Rouge-Parkview Baptist baseball coach M.L. Woodruff, whose teams claimed 11 state championships.
Two impactful sports journalists, Lori Lyons of New Orleans and Lafayette’s Bruce Brown, round out the Class of 2023.
A 40-member Louisiana Sports Writers Association committee selected the 2023 inductees. The panel considered 151 nominees from 28 different sport categories on a 36-page competitors ballot, and voted on nearly three dozen nominees in sports journalism.
Five of the inductees – Byrd, Walter Davis and Wendell Davis, Mainieri and Woodruff (who were baseball teammates as freshmen) – competed at LSU.
The 2023 Induction Class will be showcased as the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum celebrates its 10 th anniversary. The facility, on the north end of Front Street in Natchitoches, is operated by the Louisiana State Museum system in a partnership with the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
The 10 new competitive ballot inductees will raise the total of Hall of Fame members to 377 competitors honored since the first induction class — baseball’s Mel Ott, world champion boxer Tony Canzoneri and LSU football great Gaynell Tinsley — were enshrined in 1959 after their election a year earlier.
The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame already includes 25 Pro Football Hall of Fame members, 18 Olympic medalists including 11 gold medal winners, 12 members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, seven of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, seven National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, 42 College Football Hall of Fame members, nine National High School Hall of Fame enshrinees, jockeys with a combined 16 Triple Crown victories, six world boxing champions, nine Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinees, seven College Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, 10 College Basketball Hall of Fame members, four NBA
Finals MVPs, four winners of major professional golf championships, five National Museum of (Thoroughbred) Racing and Hall of Fame inductees and two Super Bowl MVPs.
There’s more to come. Eligible for the first time in 2024 – Drew Brees and Semoine Augustus headline that list.
First, we have plenty to celebrate later THIS summer, July 27-29. Hope you join the fun!