Five selected to Marengo County Sports Hall

Published 9:48 pm Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The second class of the Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame has been selected by the Hall’s board of directors. The five honorees will be inducted on Monday, Feb. 8, at the Demopolis Civic Center.

Hall of Fame board member Tom Boggs said that, for the first time, the Marengo County Hall of Fame would give a college scholarship to a deserving scholar-athlete. A school will be chosen at random, and a student-athlete will be chosen from that school based on that student-athlete’s criteria. Dr. Ken Tucker of the University of West Alabama will provide the criteria and assist with the selection.

Another new feature for this year’s Hall of Fame will be the selection of a championship team to enter the Hall.

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The 2010 Class for the Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame includes:

Lafayette “Fate” Flowers, a left-handed pitcher in Marengo County at the turn of the 20th Century.

He was employed to pitch for several towns in Marengo County as well as Thomasville. His uniforms were made by his mother, and he quickly became well-known as a pitcher, “whose delivery was so fast and deceptive that batters often did not see the ball,” according to Thomasville native Cecil Nelson.

Pitching in a game for Sweet Water against Choctaw Conty, Flowers’ team led by a run in the bottom of the ninth inning. He retired the first two batters before giving up a single. With two strikes on the next batter, Flowers wound up, and instead of pitching to the plate, fired the ball over to first to pick off the runner. The batter thought the motion was a pitch to the plate and swung, striking out. The feat of striking out a batter without actually throwing the third strike was reported in numerous newspapers.

He returned to Thomasville in 1953 for a Fourth of July old-timers game dedicated to him. He not only threw out the first pitch, but insisted on staying in the game, pitching for three innings and not allowing a runner past first — at the age of 68. Flowers passed away in 1957 at the age of 72.

Alan Koch, who played baseball on one of the first two Little League teams in the state, pitched for Demopolia High School and Auburn University and in the Major League for the Detroit Lions and the Washington Senators.

Koch helped Demopolis to a second-place state finish in the state Little League championship in 1950, falling to Auburn, the only other team in the state. He played baseball, football and basketball at DHS and bolstered the local American Legion team to a state title. He was selected as a member of the Alabama State All-Star Line-Up for the East-West Baseball Game as a high school hurler.

At Auburn he was on the 1958 Southeastern Conference championship team, hitting .430 as a pitcher. He played summer ball for the Houma (La.) Oilers and led that team to the Big Eight League pennant and was a unanimous choice as the league’s MVP.

After graduation from college, he played two seasons with the Birmingham Barons AA team, going 7-6 in his first season and 15-10 in his second. He moved on to Syracuse’s AAA team, where he went 9-0, prompting Detroit to call him up to the Bigs in 1963. He went from Detroit to Washington, where he played until 1965, when he left pro baseball to study law at the University of Alabama, where he received his juris doctor in 1968. He retired in 1999 and lives in Prattville.

Marvin Tucker, a three-sport athlete at Linden High School who lettered five years in football, six years in baseball, four years in basketball and three years in track. He was named to the All-Black Belt Conference Team for four years and was a two-time all-state honoree. One season, he was named Super All-State.

At Auburn, he was named to the All-Southeastern Conference Freshman Team in 1964 and the All-SEC Sophomore Team in 1965. He earned the Cliff Hare Award in 1968, given to the student-athlete who achieves academically and athletically and shows a great degree in the qualities of leadership, integrity and courage. He was the president of the Student Body and was the salutatorian of his senior class. He was a four-year member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and graduated in 1969 with a degree in industrial engineering.

He currently lives in the Atlanta area.

Morris Ward, a coach and athletics director at Marengo Conty High School from 1951 to 1961. A three-sport star at Wetumpka High School in the late 1930s, he lettered in football, baseball and basketball at Troy State University. He served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II from 1941 to 1946, and began his coaching career at Lyeffion High School, forming that school’s first-ever football program.

From there, he came to Thomaston, building a 64-27-6 (.691) football record in his 10 seasons. His 1959 team claimed seven shutouts, giving up only four touchdowns all year. The following year, his last at Thomaston, his team allowed only six touchdowns all season. His 1959 team was voted as the Division 2 Class A state champion by The Birmingham News.

Ward also worked with the school’s basketball team. He currently resides in Camden.

Emanuel Zanders Jr., a standout football player at U.S. Jones High School, becoming the first professional football player from Demopolis.

From high school, he played at Jackson State University, where he lettered all four seasons. At JSU, he played both sides of the ball and on special teams. His collegiate honors include All-Southwestern Athletic Conference, All-NAIA, Ebony Magazine All-American and team captain, all in 1972.

After graduation, he began teaching in Cleveland, Ohio, when he was called to the Miami Dolphins training camp. Despite a strong off-season, Zanders was not chosen to be on the Miami team, but the New Orleans Saints found a place for him, the first African-American to play for that team.

He was chosen as the team captain from 1976 to 1979 and earned the team Offensive Player of the Year in 1977, the Soulful Saints Offensive Player of the Year in 1978 and the National Sports Foundation Offensive Player of the Year in 1980.

In 1980, Zanders was made the offensive line coach for the last four games of the season. The next season, he played for the Chicago Bears, becoming the only lineman to block for Walter Payton in college and in the pros. He currently resides in Baton Rouge, La.