The Chattahooochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame’s class of 2011, announced Tuesday, comprises various forms of excellence:
Claude English, a former NBA player
Ron Yarbrough, a former Auburn University star linebacker
Joe Harrell, a three-sport Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City selection from the 1940s
Wendell Barr, a standout local high school and college athlete and coach
Dr. Champ Baker, an acclaimed sports medicine doctor
The induction ceremony will be Feb. 5 in the Columbus Convention & Trade Center. The 2011 class will join 76 other inductees from previous years.
Here is a capsule look at the 2011 class:
Dr. Champ Baker
For 25 years, Baker has led the Hughston Sports Medicine Fellowship program in Columbus, which has trained more than 200 physicians. He has served as team physician for Columbus State University since 1986. He also has served as team physician for: Auburn University women’s athletics, men’s basketball and intramural athletics; University of Alabama; Valdosta State; Pacelli High School; Columbus Astros, Mudcats, Indians and RedStixx baseball minor league teams; and the Columbus Cottonmouths minor league hockey team.
Baker’s expertise has been sought nationally and internationally. He has been an NFL independent examiner since 2000. He also has worked with the U.S. Olympic soccer team, U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S. Olympic Sports Festival, World University Games and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
This year, Baker received two prestigious honors from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine: the Robert E. Leach MD “Mr. Sports Medicine” Award for outstanding service in the orthopaedic community; and the George D. Rovere MD Award for contributions to sports medicine education.
Barr has excelled as a local athlete and coach.
He was a two-time Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City baseball player at Central-Phenix City and played in the state all-star game his senior year.
At Columbus College, then a junior college, Barr was the school’s first player to be named an All-American when he earned honorable mention for the 1964-65 season. He was twice selected Most Valuable Player on teams that won the Georgia Junior College Conference championship, going 50-9 in two seasons. He also led the Columbus College baseball team in batting as a freshman.
At Huntingdon Colege, he was co-captain of the basketball team, which he led in rebounding, and was a walk-on on the baseball team.
On April 13, 1996, Barr was inducted into the Columbus State and Huntingdon athletic halls of fame.
His coaching career has spanned five decades. He has coached high school and college basketball and softball, collecting 987 games through the 2008-09 season, with 20 of those seasons spent in the local area.
He has coached at Chattahoochee Valley Community College and Andrew College. His high school stops include: Russell County, Lakeside School, Twiggs Academy, Lowndes Academy, Woodland Christian and Patrician Academy.
At Woodland Christian, he coached teams to five state titles: girls basketball (1983, 1987), boys basketball (1981) and softball (1986, 1988). At CVCC, his 1994 women’s basketball team was the national junior college runner-up. His CVCC men’s basketball team won the 1996 regional championship. At Patrician Academy, his girls basketball team won the 2006 AISA state title.
Barr currently is headmaster at Wayne Academy in Waynesboro, Miss.
English was a three-time Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City basketball player at South Girard and a high school All-American as a junior. He averaged 21 points and 18 rebounds per game at South Girard.
At Christian College of the Southwest in Dallas, he was a junior college All-American as a sophomore, averaging 21 points and 22 rebounds per game. He earned a scholarship at Rhode Island, where he averaged 13 points and 12 rebounds per game as a junior despite breaking his wrist. As a senior, he averaged 19.5 points and 13 rebounds per game and was named All-Yankee Conference, All-New England and All-East.
English was selected in the seventh round of the 1970 NBA draft and signed a three-year contract with the Portland Trailblazers, where he averaged 1.7 points and 1.1 rebounds in 18 games before a knee injury required surgery. After recuperating, he was waived and claimed by the Philadelphia 76ers. He helped the 76ers’ Eastern Basketball Association affiliate, the Hartford Capitals, win the 1973-74 EBA title.
After three years as the Capitals’ captain, English started his coaching career as an assistant at Rhode Island, where he worked for 12 years, including four has head coach. He was the 1981 Atlantic 10 Conference men’s basketball coach of the year. He also served as a sports specialist with the U.S. Information Agency, promoting goodwill through sports in Rwanda.
English coached Park University in Parkview, Mo., for 16 seasons, compiling a 220-250 record. His 1997-98 squad was the most successful in school history, going 27-8 and reaching the NAIA final four. He now is in his 15th year as Park’s athletic director.
Joe Edward Harrell
Harrell was a Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City football, basketball and baseball player at Jordan. During a football game against Newnan, he scored six touchdowns and kicked three extra points. In 1944, he was named to the All-GIAA teams (equivalent to all-state). He also helped Jordan win the 1943 boys basketball state title and finish as runner-up in 1944 and 1945. He was third in the state in scoring in 1944 and second in 1945.
He received 11 college scholarship offers and signed with Georgia Tech, but he entered the U.S. Army in June 1945. After completing his service, he signed a pro baseball contract with the St. Louis Cardinals and played a year in the minor leagues.
At 34, Harrell joined the Royal Crown Cola Co. as a salesman, eventually buying a Royal Crown franchise in Augusta. He also worked for Kinnett Dairies and was responsible for developing the “Mr. John’s” ice cream product. He later became a consultant for the Mid-South and Reddy Ice companies.
Harrell has coached Little League and Pony League baseball teams. He also has shot his age or below multiple times on the golf course in his 70s and 80s.
Yarbrough played football at Columbus High (1962-65) and is a two-time Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City Lineman of the Year.
He was named to several all-state teams as well as All-Southern by the Orlando Sentinel and All-American by Schlolastic, Parade and McDonald’s.
As a linebacker at Auburn University, he was second-team All-SEC in 1967 his redshirt-sophomore year. He overcame a knee injury to record 15 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in the 1968 Sun Bowl against Arizona. The Auburn Football Guide says he teamed with Mike Kolen “to form the best pair of inside linebackers in Auburn history.”
He injured his left knee as a senior and never fully recovered. He finished his playing career with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League.
Note: Maple Ridge Golf Club will host the Chattahoochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame Fundraising Tourney at 1 p.m. Monday.