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2007 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductees

Originally published in the Daily Advertiser, June 24, 2007

Willard Brown

Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in July of 2006, Brown was black baseball’s premier slugging outfielder in the 1940s. He joined Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby and Hank Thompson as players who made major league baseball debuts in 1947 from the Negro Leagues. The Shreveport native, 36 at the time, lasted 21 games with the St. Louis Browns and was released after hitting .179. He became the first black American Leaguer to hit a home run during his short stay with the last-place Browns. He returned to the Negro League and batted .374 with 18 homers in 1948 and .317 in 1949, ending his Negro League career with a .355 batting average. In winter ball in Puerto Rico, he had a .350 career batting average and won three batting crowns. He ended his career in the Texas League with Dallas and Houston, hitting .306 with 23 homers despite being in his 40s. He was managed while with the legendary Kansas City Monarchs by Negro League icon Buck O’Neill and was nicknamed "Home Run" by famed slugger Josh Gibson while with the Monarchs. Brown died in 1996, 10 years before his Cooperstown induction.

 

Joel Hawkins

The state’s all-time leader in high school basketball coaching victories, Hawkins coached at Lake Providence and G.W. Griffin in Lake Providence along with his current post at Southern Lab in Baton Rouge. He holds a career record of 1,071-263 (.805) through the 2006-07 season, and a win in the Class 1A title game over Plain Dealing in 2005 made him the all-time state leader, passing Hall of Famer Leslie Gaudet of Pine Prairie. Hawkins began his coaching career in 1965 at his alma mater G.W. Griffin, and moved to Lake Providence High a few years later when the schools were combined during state integration. He has been the boys’ basketball coach at Southern Lab since 1989, winning 11 state titles in a 13-year stretch, and he also won a 1985 title at Lake Providence to give him 12 state titles to go along with 40 winning seasons and 21 district titles. He was named Mr. Louisiana Basketball by the La. Association of Basketball Coaches in 2005.

 

Stan Humphries

Humphries quarterbacked then-Northeast Louisiana to the NCAA Division I-AA national title in 1987, the only I-AA title ever won by a Louisiana team, and led the San Diego Chargers to their only Super Bowl appearance in 1995. He retired for health reasons in 1998 after a 10-year NFL career during which he led the Chargers to three playoff appearances, and ranked third on the Chargers’ all-time regular-season passing list. Humphries started 81 of 88 games, completed 1,431-of-2,516 passes (.560) for over 17,000 yards and threw 89 touchdowns, and was inducted into the Chargers’ Hall of Fame in 2002. A Shreveport native, he was a prep All-American at Southwood High before signing with LSU, and eventually transferred to NLU. In two seasons there, he passed for 4,395 yards and 29 scores, figures which ranked him second among Indian quarterbacks at the time he finished his career. He was the Louisiana and Southland Conference "Offensive Player of the Year" and a first-team I-AA All-American in 1987 and still holds the school record for 300-yard passing games (eight). Later a member of the UL Monroe staff, he is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame and one of only two Indians to have his number retired

Esther Jones

A 21-time All-American for the nationally-acclaimed LSU women’s track program from 1988-91, Jones is the most decorated athletes in the history of the Tiger program. She helped LSU claim six national titles, four outdoor and two indoor, during her four-year career. The Chicago native who grew up in Milwaukee won 10 SEC titles and also swept the 100 and 200-meter titles at the 1990 NCAA outdoor championships. She was part of a team that set an American record in the 4×200-meter relay in 1989 and a collegiate record in the 4×100-meter relay in 1989, the latter 42.50 mark which still stands. With bests of 11.11 and 22.49 in the two sprints, Jones won the 1990 James J. Corbett Award as the state’s top amateur athlete, at the time only the sixth female to win that honor. She also won the Honda Award for outstanding achievement in women’s college athletics. The highlight of Jones’ career came in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, where she won a gold medal as part of the USA 4×100-meter relay, and she also represented the U.S. in the 1991 World Championships in the 200 and 4×100 relay.

 

Brian Mitchell

A standout quarterback at both Plaquemine High and at then-USL, Mitchell went on to become one of the NFL’s all-time greatest kick returners. He set nine NFL records while playing 14 seasons for the Washington Redskins (1990-99), Philadelphia Eagles (2000-02) and New York Giants (2003). A fifth-round draft pick in 1990, Mitchell helped the Redskins win Super Bowl XXVI. When he retired in 2004, he held NFL marks for total kick return yards (19,013), combined kick returns (1,070), combined kick return touchdowns (13), kickoff returns and yards (607 and 14,014) and punt returns and yards (463 and 4,999), and was the NFL’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards (23,330) before that mark was passed by Jerry Rice two seasons ago. A Pro Bowl pick in 1995, Mitchell became the first quarterback in NCAA history to pass for 5,000 yards and rush for 3,000 yards in a career while with the Cajuns from 1986-89. His 5,447 pass yards and 3,335 rush yards set school marks at the time. He also led the Cajuns to four straight winning seasons and capped his career in 1989 by passing for 1,966 yards and rushing for 1,311 more while scoring 19 of his career 47 touchdowns. He rushed for a school-record 271 yards against Colorado State in 1987 and also had 232 and 214-yard rush games.

 

Warren Perkins

A standout player with Tulane’s Green Wave from 1945-49, Perkins was a first-round selection in the first-ever NBA Draft in the early years of that league. He also played in the first-ever NBA game with the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, facing the Denver Nuggets on Oct. 30, 1949 after the NBA was formed by the consolidation of the National Basketball League and the Basketball Association of America. Perkins was the first basketball player enshrined in the Tulane Athletic Hall of Fame in 1977 as one of 11 charter members of that group, and is also a member of the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame. A three-sport letterman for the Green Wave, he set school scoring records at the time and was twice an All-SEC selection when Tulane was a member of that conference. A member of the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Perkins played two seasons in the NBA before returning to college and eventually going to medical school.

 

Kim Perrot

Named to the LSWA’s 20-woman All-Century Team, Perrot starred at then-USL in her Lafayette hometown from 1986-90, played for Team USA and overseas and was a standout in the WNBA in its first two years, helping lead the Comets to back-to-back titles as starting point guard. She is also credited for inspiring the Comets to a third title the next year after being stricken with cancer and passing away in August of 1999. Perrot is entrenched into both the UL and NCAA record book, as the Cajuns’ all-time leading scorer (2,157 points), assists leader (654) and steals leader (421) along with ranking fifth on the rebounding list. She still holds 26 school records and holds six of UL’s top seven all-time scoring performances including a 58-point effort against Southeastern Louisiana that ranks as the second-highest single-game scoring total in NCAA history. She led the nation in scoring in 1989-90 (30.0/game) and is listed in 11 different NCAA categories. Both her UL No. 12 jersey and her Comets No. 10 jersey are retired, and the children’s treatment center at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is named "Kim’s Place" in honor of the former All-State performer at Acadiana High.

 

Pat Swilling

An outside linebacker for the Saints who played there from 1986-92, Swilling was a five-time Pro Bowl pick during a 12-year NFL career. He was a member of the famed Dome patrol with fellow linebackers Rickey Jackson, Sam Mills and Vaughan Johnson (Jackson and Mills are also in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame), part of a unit that made NFL history in 1992 when all four were voted to the Pro Bowl. A speedy and fierce pass rusher from the perimeter, Swilling led the Saints in sacks five straight seasons from 1987-91 including 16.5 in 1989 and 17 in 1991. He is third on the club’s all-time career sack list with 76.5, trailing only Jackson (115) and Wayne Martin (82.5). The NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1991 when he led the league in sacks, he also recorded 60 tackles and forced six fumbles. His 44.5 sacks from 1989-91 were the most in the NFL in that three-year span, and he led a Saints defense that led the NFL in fewest points allowed in both 1991 and 1992. He played for the Detroit Lions in 1993-94 and with the Oakland Raiders in 1995-96 and 1998, and finished his 185-game NFL career with 106.5 sacks. He later served two and one-half terms in the Louisiana Legislature as a representative from New Orleans East.