Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Sid Salter: County Hall of Fame Celebrates Bygone Values in the Current Athletics Landscape

It was my privilege a decade ago to speak at the inaugural Scott County Sports Hall of Fame induction when the organization was founded. For the induction of the 2024 class, organizers invited me back to help honor this year’s class.

The evening was also marked by the accompanying 50th anniversary of one of Mississippi’s most enduring sports stories – the so-called “Un-Team” – Lake High School’s 1974 football squad’s unbeaten, untied, unscored-upon season under the tutelage of the brash and legendary Coach Granville “Bear” Freeman.

There were 29 members of the team. Three have since died over the ensuing half-century, but the other 26 returned for their anniversary salute – one traveling from Germany to attend.

The 2024 Scott County Sports Hall of Fame honored 11 new inductees: Forest and MSU basketball great Dr. Jim Ashmore; Scott Central football announcer Roquel Barber; SCHS/Belhaven women’s basketball standout Brittany Burks; Sebastopol coach, teacher and principal Charles Brown; Morton/Belhaven basketball star John Eichelberger; Forest High and Mississippi College three-sport letterman Jimmy Goodwin; Scott Central/Midwestern State two-way footballer Chris Ficklin; Forest publisher and youth sports volunteer Erle Johnston; Good Hope/MC basketballer James Edgar Johnston; Former Scott Central/current Madison Central coach and MSU football standout Mike Hendershot; and Sebastopol football announcer Guy McGarrity.

All were winners in sports and life. All had compelling stories. All had families, friends, former students and grateful communities to remember them. It was a great afternoon, particularly for the announcers and parks and rec youth sports volunteers who were honored.

But of all the honorees, the one that I believe bears some additional consideration given the modern climate in professional, intercollegiate, and even local sports, is Dr. Jim Ashmore.

There was no Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deal for Jim Ashmore, and no transfer portal. Nor was the lure of the highest echelons of pro sports the top thing in his life. No, Ashmore used his prodigious talent as a basketball star as a means to an end to build his life and his life’s work.

Ashmore was a remarkable man in every way – as an athlete, as a physician, as a husband, father and grandfather, and as a Christian citizen. He died at the age of 88 in 2023, but not before a productive life filled with accomplishments. He was a caring family physician for 52 years, retiring at the age of 80. Jim was married to his Forest sweetheart Beverly Jo McKenzie Ashmore for 64 years. She died in 2022.

Jim graduated from Forest High School as a straight-A student, lettering in basketball, baseball, and football, excelling in basketball at the point guard position. He received the Babe Ruth Sportsman Award, was chosen for the Scott County All-Star Basketball Team, represented Mississippi in the North-South High School All-Star Game and his 35-point per game scoring average was the highest in the nation.

Jim then attended Mississippi State University from 1953 until 1957 on a basketball scholarship, graduating summa cum laude with a Pre-Medicine degree. At MSU, he broke 11 MSU basketball records and three SEC records. He was a three-time All-SEC Team selection and, as a senior, was named Associated Press All-American, and played in the East-West Games.

He was MSU’s first All-American player, was named SEC Most Valuable Player in a player’s poll and was the SEC Player of the Year his senior year. Finishing his senior year in the NCAA Top Ten in scoring, he was drafted in the NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. During the Celtics tryouts, he was selected second string point guard behind the great Bob Cousy, however, he chose instead to play in the AAU Basketball League so he could earn money half the year and attend medical school half of the year.

Jim was inducted into the MSU Sports Hall of Fame, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, the SEC Sports Hall of Fame, the NCAA Sports Hall of Fame, was named to the NCAA Basketball Coaches’ 25th Anniversary Team and was named an SEC Legend at the SEC Basketball Championship Tournament in 2000.

Ashmore chose to use his athletic talent to equip him to dedicate his life to medicine, serving the people of Leighton and Muscle Shoals, Alabama – because when he graduated medical school, those communities needed a doctor.

Sports aside, that’s a Hall of Fame life.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Anonymous said...

Kudos to Sid. For once he spared us his inane political meanderings.

Hey Sid. Write more columns like this one. You are a good features writer. You are a terrible political analyst.

Anonymous said...

Ashmore's daughters were smoking hot. One daughter won the national Junior Miss title, and deservedly so.

Anonymous said...

The term, A Gentleman and a Scholar was made for Dr Ashmore

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS