May 22, 2005
St. Petersburg, FL — Two of the greatest members of the Florida State athletic family will be inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame this evening at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. Seminole baseball coach Mike Martin and All-American cornerback Deion Sanders will both be enshrined at a ceremony this evening.
Overall, the Florida Sports Hall of Fame inducts seven new members tonight, who between them have won three Olympic Gold Medals, four Super Bowls, five NCAA football national championships, 14 tennis major events, three golf major events and a Heisman Trophy. Nicole Haislett Bacher, Pete Sampras, Howard Schnellenberger, Payne Stewart and Danny Wuerffel join the two Seminoles as members of the 2005 class.
The inductees were selected by the over 185 current Hall of Fame members, the board of directors of the Hall of Fame Foundation and members of the Florida Sportswriters Assn. To qualify, a person must be a Florida native or have lived in the state while achieving and/or maintaining a career of excellence in athletics.
This year’s induction is the third consecutive held in St. Petersburg where plans are well underway to build a permanent home for the shrine. In addition to the banquet, the annual Hall of Fame weekend includes a silent auction and a golf tournament.
The Class of 2005 represents a wide variety of Florida sports:
Mike Martin has coached Florida State’s baseball team for the past 26 years compiling a record of 1,386-468-4 and a .747 winning percentage that ranks second among active coaches and the seventh best all time. He moved into sixth place for all-time victories this season passing USC legend Rod Dedeaux. His teams have appeared in 25 consecutive NCAA regional tournaments and 12 College World Series. They have also played in a Super Regional every year since the format was adopted.
Deion Sanders is considered by many to be the greatest athlete ever to play for FSU. The Ft. Myers native lettered in three sports as a Seminole (football, baseball, track). Twice a consensus football All American (1987-88) he won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back (1988). During a 12-year NFL career “Prime Time” was selected for seven Pro Bowls and won Super Bowl rings with San Francisco and Dallas. He also played center field for Atlanta and Cincinnati and is the only athlete to play in both a Super Bowl and World Series.
Nicole Haislett Bacher, a St. Petersburg native, won three gold medals in swimming at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. The 1997 University of Florida graduate was SEC Swimmer of the Year in 1993 and 1994 and held seven NCAA individual championships.
Pete Sampras was born in Washington, D.C., but trained at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton and lived in Tampa during his most productive years. He holds the record for most wins in Grand Slam events with 14 (seven Wimbledon, five U.S. Open, two Australian Open), and was the world’s No. 1 ranked player for six consecutive years. He retired in 2000.
Howard Schnellenberger has been part of four collegiate national championships. His 1983 Miami Hurricanes won that school’s first title, defeating Nebraska in the 50th Anniversary Orange Bowl. In addition, Schnellenberger has also been part of seven NFL playoff teams and was part of two Super Bowl championship staffs. He helped the 1972 Miami Dolphins to the NFL’s only undefeated (17-0) season. Today, Schnellenberger is building another winning program at Florida Atlantic, taking the Owls to the Division I-AA semifinal game in 2003.
Payne Stewart was a major player on the PGA Tour when a tragic plane crash in 1999 took the lives of Stewart, 42, and five others. The longtime Orlando resident had 11 Tour victories and his three major championships included the 1989 PGA Championship and the1991 and 1999 U.S. Opens. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001.
Danny Wuerffel quarterbacked the University of Florida to the 1996 National Championship and won the Heisman Trophy in the process. The Fort Walton Beach native also led the Gators to four straight SEC championships and earned Academic All American honors in addition to his two-year All American selection as a player. His awards included the Davey O’Brien, Johnny Unitas and Walter Camp Player of the Year awards. He retired from the NFL in 2004 and now serves as Director of Development for Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans.
The Florida Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to preserving, honoring and promoting knowledge of the tradition of excellence that is manifested through the individuals inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and through the history of sports in Florida. The Hall of Fame Web site is located at www.floridasportshalloffame.com.