Texas Sports Hall of Fame
The Texas Sports Hall of Fame recognizes athletes, coaches, and administrators who have made "lasting fame and honor to Texas sports". It was established in 1951 by the Texas Sports Writers Association. Once it made its first induction (baseball star Tris Speaker) in 1951, Texas became the first U.S. state to have a sports hall of fame.
Home of more than 300 Texas legends, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame was the idea of the sports editor at The Beaumont Enterprise. Thad Johnson spoke to the Texas Sportswriters Association during the 1949 Texas High School Coaches Association All Star Games in Beaumont about starting the Hall of Fame. The sports writers unanimously agreed with Johnson and in 1951 baseball great Tris Speaker was the inaugural inductee and Texas became the first state to honor its athletes with a hall of fame. The Texas Sports Hall of Fame under the guidance of Texas sports entrepreneur Lamar Hunt was opened in Grand Prairie on Saturday, May 23, 1981 but was closed in 1986. The Hall of Fame remained dormant until several prominent members of the Waco community created a plan in 1990 to have the Hall of Fame moved to Waco. Their plan was realized on April 16, 1993 when Waco had its grand opening for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. The museum also houses the Texas Tennis Museum and Hall of Fame and Texas High School Football Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame expanded in 2010 to include a new banquet hall, the Health, Fitness and Education Center and Texas’ preeminent college conference, the Southwest Conference (SWC). The Southwest Conference was a national power conference for most of the century until it broke up in 1996. The Southwest Conference exhibit displays the grand history of college athletics in Texas. The Texas Sports Hall of Fame is now truly representative of the athletic history in Texas as it sits at 35,000 sq. ft. History
Nominations for the Hall of Fame are open to the public. The selection committee, consisting of at least 21 sports journalists from various Texas newspapers, meets annually to review the nominees and make a ballot. The ballot consists of a primary and veterans section. The Primary Ballot has 20 names, while the Veterans has 12. Dues-paying members of the Hall of Fame vote each year to decide the inductees. The top 6 vote getters of the Primary Ballot and the top 2 of the Veterans are inducted into the Hall of Fame. The top 5 vote getters of each ballot who are not selected are automatically placed into the next year's ballot.
The Hall of Fame, with assistance from the selection committee, notifies the winning nominees once the voting process has completed.
The winning nominees, if they accept their induction, must then attend the banquet at Ferrell Center in Waco to be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame. If a nominee rejects their induction, the Hall of Fame inducts the next highest vote getter. If a nominee declines their induction for two consecutive years without a legitimate reason, the nominee will not be eligible for the ballot for another five years.