Union University inducted a class of eight sports legends in Union University’s Sports Hall of Fame during a dinner on Feb. 13 in the Carl Grant Events Center.
The Hall of fame inductees included:
– Amos J. Davenport Jr., bus driver and video recorder for the women’s basketball team. Davenport started traveling with the Lady Bulldogs in 1985, video recording all their games and driving the bus for many years.
Davenport traveled to at least 15 different states with the team and even went to the Bahamas with them. At this time, Davenport has traveled approximately 150,000 miles and has recorded over 1,000 games.
– Don Rayburn Richard, scorekeeper for home basketball games for 25 years. Richard arrived on campus in 1983 and has been a supporter of the basketball program ever since. He also worked at the scorer’s table at the NAIA National Tournament for 22 years. Richard began working as a scorekeeper because he would yell at the referees so much that his wife, Majorie, did not want to sit with him at games.
Richard was a member of the Union’s faculty for over 20 years in a variety of roles. He was the Faculty Athletic Representative, working with the registrar to ensure that eligibility requirements were met. Richard was selected as the Faculty Member of the Year in 1992 and was honored with the Distinguished Faculty/Staff Award in the fall of 2009.
– Carlo Spencer, longtime clock operator for Union basketball games. Spencer began as a volunteer in 1985. He was the clock operator at the NAIA National Tournament for the entire 22 years it was held in Jackson while also serving as the chair of the scorer’s table for most of that time.
Spencer has been the Vice President of the Union University Booster Club since 1985 and helps fellow Hall of Fame member, Gary Neese, with color commentary for road basketball games.
– Joe Aden, class of 1962. Aden played four years of basketball at Union from 1958-1963 and was team captain all four seasons. He was also the leading scorer for Union during that time as well. Despite all of Aden’s individual accolades and being the leader of the team, he stressed that his teammates were what made him great.
“If you surround yourself with good people, you will have success,” Aden said in his acceptance speech.
– Gary Blaylock, class of 1973. Blaylock was a first baseman on the Union baseball team from 1971-1973. He ranks second all-time at Union in home runs, finishing his career with 36. Blaylock signed with the Kansas City Royals after his time at Union and played in the minor leagues for four years.
Blaylock credited his teammates with transforming his life while at Union.
“We cared about each other and we played hard. That’s why we were good,” said Blaylock.
Aside from his playing career, Blaylock maintained that teaching high school is one of the greatest accomplishments of his life.
– Mae Ester Coleman, class of 1984. Coleman was a member of the women’s basketball team at Union and currently holds the record for most points in a regulation game with 44 in the 1982-1983 season. She also set the school record for the best career field goal percentage at .532.
“If you get your mind together, stick together with another, pray and strive for what you know, you can accomplish anything in life you want to do,” Coleman said during her acceptance speech.
While at Union Coleman led the team to consistent top-15 NAIA national rankings.
– Rachel Murray Buchanan, class of 2002. Buchanan is the first softball player inducted into the Union Sports Hall of Fame. She posted a career record of 126 wins, 22 losses and two saves with a 0.58 ERA over her four season with the softball team. Murray Buchanan threw in 970 innings with 1,257 career strikeouts.
Murray Buchanan led the team to three NAIA National Tournaments with a best finish of third place in 2001. While at school the team also won two NCCAA national titles. During her time at Union, Murray Buchanan won numerous awards and also holds 21 pitching records and 6 offensive records. After graduating from Union, she played a few seasons of summer league softball and won the chance to try out for the USA Olympic team.
– Steve Valadez, class of 1973. Valadez was a pitcher and outfielder for the Bulldogs. As a senior, Valadez was 9-0 with a 0.56 ERA. He struck out 66 hitters in 64.1 innings and allowed just four walks in 1972. In 1970, he was named the Most Valuable Player at Union and earned All-American honors in 1973.
One of his favorite highlights from his career at Union was playing an exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles in 1971 at Miami Stadium. Valadez pitched the game and Union only lost 1-0 against the major league team.
After graduating from Union, Valadez signed with the Kansas City Royals and played in both the minor and Mexican League for several years.