Sports Hall of Fame inducts five

Published 10:21 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame inducted five new members Monday night, expanding its membership to 11 honorees. The Class of 2010 was the second class to be inducted.

Inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame were LaFayette “Fate” Flowers, Alan Koch, Marvin Tucker, Morris Ward and Emanuel Zanders.

Demopolis High School senior Charles “Trey” Jones III accepted the first-ever Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame scholarship prior to the induction ceremony, and the Linden High School football team of 1959 was also recognized, with a special recognition of team member Charlie Henson.

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Flowers was 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.

Flowers’ award was accepted by his grandson, Ken Flowers.

“This is wonderful. We’re so excited!” said LaFayette Flowers’ granddaughter, Gail Flowers, who taught for many years in the Demopolis City Schools system. “It’s hard to believe that someone’s career was over 100 years ago, and people still talk about him.”

Koch played baseball for Demopolis on the first Little League team in the state, and pitched for Demopolis High School and Auburn University and in the Major League for the Detroit Lions and the Washington Senators.

“I was really reluctant to get involved in (the Hall of Fame) because the statistics don’t do it justice,” Koch said. “I just take the attitude that getting to the Major League was a big accomplishment. But, the bigger accomplishment was the interest that our parents had and that Demopolis has shown to the kids today. Sports will make them better individuals, and everybody ought to be proud of that.”

Tucker was 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.

At Auburn, he was named to the All-Southeastern Conference Freshman Team in 1964 and the All-SEC Sophomore Team in 1965.

“You know, it’s overwhelming,” Tucker said. “Seeing the people on the 1959 team and knowing the inductees from last year and this year — particularly the coaches and the influences that they had — and seeing the people from Thomaston and their support, it just shows what an impact they had on their lives.

“It was a great time to play football. The competition was good, and it was a great time. I am so blessed to have been raised here. My family’s got roots here. The relationships that you make here are great. It’s a great night that I will never forget.”

Ward was a coach and athletics director at Marengo County High School from 1951 to 1961. At Thomaston, he built a 64-27-6 (.691) football record in his 10 seasons. His 1959 team claimed seven shutouts, giving up only four touchdowns all year. His 1959 team was voted as the Division 2 Class A state champion by The Birmingham News.

“It’s a great honor to me,” said Ward, now 91. “A lot of people were concerned about us running the halfback dive so much, but what they didn’t know was that one dive turned out to be 60 other plays! But nobody — nobody! — recognized that in all the time I coached. That’s what you want to do: keep it simple.”

Zanders was a standout football player at U.S. Jones High School who signed to play for the New Orleans Saints.

He played at Jackson State University, where 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. He later played for the Chicago Bears, becoming the only lineman to block for Walter Payton in college and in the pros.

“It feels great, just to be a part of this organization,” Zanders said. “This is something that Demopolis needs for the youth and the people who are going forward.”