BOGACZYK: Hall of Fame Dedication Part of Big Weekend
The Word on the Herd-Nov. 10, 2014
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- It’s going to be a very special – and busy – upcoming weekend for Marshall Athletics.
There’s the annual Memorial Fountain ceremony on Friday morning, honoring the 75 who died in the Nov. 14, 1970 plane crash. That night, MU Hall of Famer and former point guard Dan D’Antoni makes his anticipated debut as the Herd men’s basketball coach against Jacksonville State.
On Saturday afternoon, Rice brings a six-game winning streak into Joan C. Edwards Stadium for a compelling Conference USA football matchup against the nationally ranked and unbeaten Herd. The following afternoon, it’s "Bring on the Herd" again in D’Antoni’s second game at the Henderson Center, against Savannah State.
But perhaps what is the weekend’s crescendo is a special event at noon Saturday. That’s when MU will unveil the latest piece made possible by the Vision Campaign – the MU Athletics Hall of Fame adjacent to the Chris Cline Athletic Complex’s indoor facility.
The Hall will be dedicated in a naming ceremony that has been anticipated for many years.
"We’re finally going to have a place to properly recognize our best in Herd athletics history," Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick said. "It’s what we’re about. It’s our story, all told in one place."
It’s 1,200 square feet of memorabilia, names, faces, places, facts and figures. And visitors to the Hall will finally be able to learn so much more about the 220-plus MU Hall of Famers -- A to Z, from football’s Bob Adkins to soccer’s Andy Zulauf.
Aaron Goebbel, the MU associate AD for external affairs, said the Saturday noon ceremony will be open only to Hall of Famers and their families, and families of those who died in the 1970 Marshall football team plane crash. There will be other "openings" later.
I got a sneak peak last week at the Hall of Fame. It’s a facility that hits the high notes … and there are more than you think involving names like Henderson, Greer, Pruett, Slack, Pennington, D’Antoni, Hunt, Pursley, Gatski, Hicks and Moss.
And the centerpiece of the Hall is just what you’d expect.
"I think, naturally, the 75 names from the 1970 plane crash, the recognition is extraordinary," said Goebbel, who has been the MU point man in the design and artifact selection and collection. "It’s a very proper area to recognize that. It’s the focal point as to where it is physically located in the Hall.
"We all know about the Memorial Fountain and the (Spring Hill) cemetery, but we never really have -- as an athletic department -- had an area that we dedicated and we feel properly recognizes that sad moment and day in our athletic history.
"We all know it is referenced over and over; it’s our story, and it’s unique and I think when you look at the Hall of Fame, that Hall is your overall story of our athletic history. It’s important that day is recognized properly there."
With 1,200 square feet of display space, the Marshall staff had to be selective in the displays. There is plenty to see and plenty to read. But you won’t find every old trophy won jammed into glass cases.
"When we took on this project, and the overall project of the indoor facility, the track oval, the medical center and the academic center, we said our facilities had to catch up with the times," Goebbel said. "And I don’t think our Hall of Fame needed to be exempt from that.
"We’re in the era of ‘less is more’ and we were able to contract with Digital Innovations of Kansas City, and those people were able to bring our vision to life and make a lot of the recognition of the Hall of Fame members and the moments in time a very impactful, in-your-face kind of representation without putting every golf tee, or a batting glove in there.
"Now, there definitely is space for those artifacts and they will be recognized. It’s going to be a fluid situation, with some items changing in and out. We look forward to having people come to us and telling us the things that they have, and they’d like to share with our Hall of Fame and there is a space for that.
"But we wanted this Hall of Fame to be dynamic and have a different impact. We want people to spend time in there, but we don’t want you to have to go searching and look for every nook and cranny to find what you’re looking for to understand our story. So, all of the displays are large and impactful, and really dynamic pieces we think people will enjoy."
Perhaps the facet of the Hall that visitors will appreciate most are the east and west brick walls, where etched metal nameplates list each Herd Hall of Famer, surrounding giant touch-screen monitors on which visitors can call up any name and check a biographical sketch.
"The engraved plaques are very tastefully done," Goebbel said. "We did have more than 200 Hall of Famers in gold frames – very dated – hanging in the Henderson Center concourse for years. There was no information on the Hall of Famers other than their name and sport.
"Now, we have an engraved plaque, name, sport, years, and on each Hall of Fame wall you have an 80-inch digital monitor that is touch screen where accomplishments and accolades will live in that digital. And individuals have opportunity to go through that.
"We’ll continue to add video and information as it becomes available. This will give people a platform to tell the stories of these individuals maybe more in depth than we have. I think that’s really an exciting thing."
Some displays and artifacts will change in and out.
Just last week, Herd staffers hung the jersey of late quarterback Ted Shoebridge, who died in the plane crash. The jersey is the one he wore in his final game, the Nov. 14, 1970 loss at East Carolina. Shoebridge’s younger brother, Tom, donated it to the Hall after it had been displayed in Shoebridge family homes in New Jersey for more than 40 years.
Goebbel said there will be more examples just like that.
"One of the main pieces we hope to have by (Saturday) is in transit," the Herd associate AD said. "Donnie Gibson, our MVP in the Tangerine Bowl (1947 season) lives in New Mexico. He has a cap and whistle from Cam Henderson, and so that is a very valuable piece on its way.
"Other things we’ve found a way to display are official scorebooks for Marshall basketball from about 1947 to ’60. So, you have Hal Greer playing against Oscar Robertson from Cincinnati in there."
Hamrick and Goebbel said that after Saturday’s dedication, the Hall of Fame will have a "second opening" on Friday, Nov. 28 (the day after Thanksgiving) in conjunction with the Western Kentucky-Marshall football game at Edwards Stadium. That one will be open to Vision Campaign donors.
Goebbel said the athletic department intends to open the Hall for regular hours – still to be determined – the week of Dec. 8.