Lanier and golf were the most common connections among the newest members of the Macon Sports Hall of Fame.
Of the nine inductees, seven had a connection to the high school or the sport.
There was a definite Auburn influence, as well.
Nobody had a longer history of friendship than Bill Fickling and Joe Davis.
“Joe and I were in high school together. We were friends, and luckily, we both went to Auburn at the same time and were teammates with each other. And I have seen a number of athletic friends who didn’t stay in Macon like I did. It’s a great occasion to be here.”
The former multi-sport standouts were joined by seven others — three golfers, four Lanier alums — as inductees into the Macon Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony and dinner Tuesday night at the Macon Coliseum.
After last year’s ceremony took up most of the night, thanks to 15 inductees and some detailed acceptance speeches, this year’s group was extraordinarily efficient with two taking less than a minute and only two going longer than four minutes.
The Hall also honored a female and male athlete from each Bibb County high school before inducting the Class of 2010.
Fickling and Davis were part of the Poets’ 1949 state championship football team, and both excelled in other sports, baseball for Davis and track and basketball for Fickling.
Davis noted some familiar names for the veterans of the Macon high school sports scene, including coach Selby Buck. Davis recalled how he had two senior years. He was prepared to go to prep school after his main senior year.
“Coach Buck, brilliant mind that he was, said, ‘You don’t have to do that, just drop English and come back and play here again,’” Davis said. “I did. Lo and behold, they changed the rule the next year. Seemed like every time Coach Buck came up with something, they changed the rule the next year.”
Davis made sure the audience was clear about the record for consecutive point-after-touchdown kicks he made at Auburn in the 1950s with 17.
“I know people read the paper last Saturday and said that had to be a typo, it must be 117,” Davis said, citing the publishing in The Telegraph of the induction class and its accomplishments. “You’ve got to understand. Back in the 1950s, if you scored two touchdowns in a game, you were a marvelous offensive football team. If you let other team score two touchdowns on you, you didn’t win many football games in those days.”
Inductee Jack Stuart was unable to attend because of a family medical emergency. Inductees W.L. “Young” Stribling and Jack Morgan are deceased.
Morgan’s stepson Wes Heath spoke in acceptance, and he noted a few familiar names to local golfers.
“One of the things I can tell you about my dad is that he was a competitor,” Heath said. “Arnold Bloom and Merlin Woodell both said he was the most competitive person they ever played, whether they were playing golf (or) ping pong. Ed DeFore said he was pretty bad at marbles when he was a kid (playing) on Second Street.”
Jiggy Smaha, a football standout at Lanier and Georgia, remembered when football became a love. He was in fourth grade at St. Joseph’s and had been told to line up against a seventh-grader, the biggest youngster on the team.
“The coach called out the snap count, and my teammate knocked me on my backside,” Smaha said. “Five times in a row. The sixth time, we crashed into each other and it was a stalemate. The seventh-grader gave me a pat on the shoulder and said, ‘good hit.’ From that moment on, I always loved the game.”