They were in a plastic bag, stashed away in a drawer hundreds of miles away in Chattanooga,
an important part of the University of Memphis’ athletic history many had forgotten
about. But a simple phone call changed that.
|(Top) Hardaway was on hand for the grand opening of the Hall of Fame named in his
honor. The facility at 570 Normal Street is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
(Above) The running shoes and gold and silver medals of Ed Hammonds, along with an
autographed baseball from Tiger standout Terry Pressgrove.
“It wasn’t like I had a crowd of people coming through my house to look at them,”
said Ed Hammonds in describing the two national track and field championship medals
he won in 1973. “I felt someone needed to see them.”
According to U of M associate athletic director Bob Winn, now people will see them,
as well as hundreds of other Tiger artifacts from the past in the sparkling new Anfernee
“Penny” Hardaway/U of M Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I believe that our fans will be very surprised and pleased by some of the treasures
we have found pertaining to Tiger history,” said Winn. “We have scoured literally
every part of the Memphis campus and have uncovered some very old pieces from our
U of M athletics contacted Hammonds and many more of the 400-plus M Club inductees
looking for memorabilia to place in the facility. Among the many items visitors can
see are the basketball jersey of the late Larry Finch, football jerseys from such
noted players as Bob Rush, Keith Wright and Bob Ford, the baseball from Mark Bowlan’s
1987 perfect game, and newer items such as cleats worn by members of the 2010 record-setting
women’s soccer team.
“We have case displays devoted to Larry Finch and Elma Roane as well as cases that
illustrate different time periods in Tiger athletics,” said women’s basketball sports
information director Tammy DeGroff.
Added Winn, “For years we searched for the trophy from the Pasadena Bowl and the silver
cup from the 1957 NIT. We have found both of these items and they are now displayed
in the Hall.”
DeGroff and historian John Guinozzo scanned and resized more than 4,000 photos that
are a part of the Hall. It includes interactive databases and videos of some of the
most memorable events in Tiger history.
The Hall was made possible by a $1 million donation by Hardaway, a national player-of-the-year
runner-up in 1993. “I wanted to give back to the University that gave me so much and
has meant so much to me,” he said.
Winn said the Hall is an ongoing project.
“As with any museum, exhibits will periodically change,” he said. “We hope that former
athletes will visit or hear about the Hall and decide that it is the ideal location
for displaying items from their playing careers.”
Hammonds, meanwhile, is the only person in Tiger athletic history to win two NCAA
national titles. At the 1973 NCAA outdoor track and field championships, he used world-class
speed to win the 100-yard dash finals and teamed with Maurice Knight, Lynn Fox and
Everet Taylor to capture the 440-yard relay title. A hamstring injury had kept him
from competing in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. “He would have won Olympic gold
if not for his injury,” said former coach Glenn Hays.
Hammonds, a retired Chattanooga city court clerk, said the Hall will give Memphis
fans a way to relive some of the greatest moments in Tiger history, and will allow
him to prove a point.
“My grandsons, they look at me and think granddaddy never did do anything because
I am old. Well, this will show them!”
— by Greg Russell