CLASS OF 1997
Charles Belcher grew up in Decatur where he was an outstanding track athlete. At Decatur High School, he held the Georgia State High School 440 yard dash. He went on to Georgia Tech where he was a three time SEC Champion in the 440. During his time period, he held the southern record in the 440 and also held the world indoor record in the 600 yard dash. Belcher held the junior AAU record in the 220 yard low hurdles. He was a member of the '39-40 U.S. Track team that toured Europe, won 11 of 12 races he ran.
Ronald M. Bradley was born in Manchester, and was an outstanding athlete at Avondale High School. He went on to letter in baseball and basketball at the University of Georgia in the 1950s. Bradley coached multiple sports at Newton County High School, Walton Academy, Trinity Christian School, Greater Atlanta Christian School, Loganville High School, and Piedmont Academy. He won 24 region championships and 4 state titles, including the 1964 State Crown at Newton County. He had a record of 122-55-6 as a football coach and was 158-60 as a baseball coach. He was recognized by the Atlanta Tipoff Club for having the most victories (1327) in Georgia high school history as a basketball coach. Bradley is a true Georgia coaching legend.
Johnny Griffith was born in Crawfordville, but played high school football at Boy's High in Atlanta. He lettered in football at the University of Georgia and also played football at South Georgia College. Griffith graduated from Georgia in 1950. Griffith's coaching career began at the junior college level at South Georgia College. He was an assistant there in 1949 before becoming the head coach in 1950. In four years as the head football coach at South Georgia College, Griffith compiled a 32–6 record and took his team to four bowl appearances. He became an assistant coach at UGA in 1956 and became head coach in 1961, where he remained until the end of the 1963 season. He served as assistant to Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech from 1964-1966. Griffith was instrumental in the creation and development of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
Ray Guy was born in Swainsboro and attended Thomson High School where he was an outstanding all-around athlete, leading the Bulldogs to two state championships in football. He played college football at Southern Mississippi and was USM’s first All-American. Guy played punter, place-kicker, and safety at Southern Miss. He is the first pure punter ever drafted in the first round of the NFL draft in 1973. Guy played 13 years in the NFL with Raiders and was a seven time pro-bowler and a three time Super Bowl Champion. In 2014, he became the first pure punter to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Most consider him the greatest punter of all time, and in his honor, The Ray Guy Award is given annually to the top collegiate punter in the nation.
Nick Hyder was from Elizabethton, Tennessee and first gained notoriety as a coach at West Rome High School. Hyder led West Rome to two state titles as baseball coach and also posted a 53-12-3 record as the school’s football coach between 1968 and 1973. In 1974, he took over as head football coach at Valdosta High School where he would lead the already tradition-rich program to even greater heights. From 1974 to 1995 with Hyder as head coach, Valdosta won seven State Championships and three National Championships. He reached 300 wins faster than any coach in state history, finishing his career with a record of 302-48-5. He was region coach of the year 16 times and state coach of the year seven times. In, 1984, he was named USA Today’s National Coach of the Year. Hyder achieved legendary status at Valdosta and is considered one of the greatest high school football coaches in state history.
Billy Martin grew up in Gainesville and was a football and basketball standout at Gainesville High School. He was an outstanding tight end for the Georgia Tech football team in the early 1960s and was All-SEC and All-American in 1963. That season, Martin hauled in 56 receptions for 777 yards from his high school teammate and Tech quarterback Billy Lothridge. Martin was selected in the second round of the 1964 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears and played two seasons with the Bears before being picked up by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1966 expansion draft. He played two seasons with the Falcons and finished up his professional career playing one final year with the Minnesota Vikings. He is a member of the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame.
MARGARET MATTHEWS WILBURN
Margaret Matthews was born in Griffin and went to high school at David T. Howard High school in Atlanta where she was state champion sprinter and long-jumper. She attended Tennessee State University where she was a three-time All-American in track in 1957, 1958, and 1959. Another of the famed member of the Tennessee State Tigerbelles track squad, she was the first American woman to break the 20 feet barrier in the long jump and set a world record. She was the American long-jump champion for four straight years. Matthews was part of the 4 X 100 relay team that won a Bronze Medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. She won Silver at the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago. Matthews is a Georgia Legend in women’s track and field.
Dale Murphy grew up in Portland, Oregon, but his name has become synonymous with the Atlanta Braves. He made his major league debut with the Braves in 1976 and played for 18 seasons in the big leagues, including short stints with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Colorado Rockies. Murphy was a versatile player and played outfield, catcher, and first base during his career. During his 15 years as a Brave, he was a seven time All-Star and a two time National League MVP (1982 & 1983). He was a five time Gold Glove winner and a four time Silver Slugger. Twice he was the NL home run leader and two more times he was the league RBI leader. He hit 398 career home runs with 1266 RBI's. His #3 is retired by the Braves. Since his playing days, he has been active in many humanitarian organizations and causes. He is one of the most influential and popular Atlanta Braves of all time.
DR. JAMES REDFEARN
Dr. James A. Redfearn grew up in Thomas County and went on to an outstanding athletic career at the University of Georgia as a baseball player. He lettered in baseball at UGA in 1907 and 1908 and posted a record of 18-0-1 as a pitcher including 13 shutouts. In his last nine games as a Bulldog, he struck out 121 batters. In 1908, he struck out 21 Alabama batters in one game, and won both games of a doubleheader against Washington and Lee. Redfearn turned down an opportunity at a professional baseball career and instead chose medical school. He went on to become a successful physician.
Loran Smith grew up in Wrightsville and attended the University of Georgia. The former long- time executive secretary of the Georgia Bulldog Club and 1959 Bulldog track MVP and 1960 captain has been an important building block of what has become one of the nation's top athletic programs. Smith has spent most of his professional life at UGA after graduation and during that time has held positions as Assistant Sports Information Director, Business Manager, and Executive Director of the Georgia Bulldog Club. He has also been a member of the Athletic Association Development Office and served as executive producer of the football coach's television show. Loran was instrumental in developing the Georgia Bulldog radio network and he served as a sideline reporter on the game broadcasts as well as hosting the post-game locker room show with the head coach. He is the author of several books about the University of Georgia and has written five books on The Masters golf tournament. He is one of the most loyal and popular Georgia Bulldogs of all time.
Joyner Clifford “JoJo” White was born in Red Oak in 1909 and went on to a stellar major league baseball career. He played a total of nine seasons between 1932 and 1944 with the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Athletics, and the Cincinnati Reds. White was the starting centerfielder for the Detroit Tigers teams that won back-to-back American League pennants in 1934 and 1935, and the 1935 World Series. After his playing days, he served as the interim manager of the Cleveland Indians in 1960 and enjoyed a long and successful career as a scout, minor-league coach, and MLB coach. He was part of the first Braves staff when the team moved to Atlanta in 1966.