Houston Sports Authority Announces 2019 Houston Sports Awards Inductees

Legends to be honored at the Hilton Americas on February 6, 2019

December 04, 2018 - 12:10 pm
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HOUSTON – The Houston Sports Authority announces that Jack Burke, Jr., George Foreman, A.J. Foyt, and Dan Pastorini will be honored at the second Houston Sports Hall of Fame Class.

The Houston Sports Awards will celebrate a Lifetime of Houston Sports – one decade at a time -- the night will honor the 40th anniversary of Pastorini and the Luv Ya Blue Oilers, the 50th anniversary of Foreman winning gold at the 1968 Summer Olympics, the 60th anniversary of Foyt’s Indianapolis 500 debut and the 70th anniversary of Burke’s first professional win.

Honorees will receive their plaque on the Houston Sports Walk of Fame, individually designed HOF rings created by Diamond Cutters International and a custom Knot Standard blazer on stage.

Pastorini was the soul of Bum Phillips’ Luv Ya Blue Oilers. The first-round pick in the 1971 draft, he was a larger-than-life, tougher-than-nails quarterback who led the team to back-to-back AFC title games in 1978 and 1979 seasons. He and legendary running back Earl Campbell, a member of the inaugural Houston Sports Hall of Fame class (along with Nolan Ryan and Hakeem Olajuwon), were the central figures of an electric movement born during a 35-30 win over Miami on Monday Night Football.

“It means the world,’’ Pastorini said of the honor. “Last year, when I had the opportunity to present to Earl it was quite thrilling for me because the 34s (Campbell, Olajuwon, and Ryan) should be in there. But to represent the Luv Ya Blue years and our teams back then is very special to me. We don’t really have an identity in this city, except for the love and the respect we have from the Luv Ya Blue fans and they keep us alive.

“. . . This now gives us permanency in the city. It’ll be something we can take our grandchildren to and say – We were here; we were part of this great history of the city of Houston.”

Foreman, who grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward, added two heavyweight world titles to that Olympic gold in a career that spanned almost four decades. Foreman won his first title in 1973, knocking out Joe Frazier. After retiring in 1977, he came back to win a share of the title again in 1994.

“What a tremendous opportunity to have walked the streets of Houston, Texas, where I thought nothing much would become of me, I really didn’t,’’ Foreman said. “And now to be mentioned in the Sports Hall of Fame in Houston, it really is probably the most important award I’ve ever received.’’

The 83-year old Foyt is one of the greatest ever to race. He won at every level and is the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He remains active in the sport through his ownership of A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

“I’m glad to be in the Hall of Fame here,’’ he said. “I was born and raised here and I guess this is where I’m gonna die, but it’s great to be here and Houston’s been a good town for me. I spend a lot of time here and still have a couple of farms and really enjoy Houston.”

Burke is still going strong at 95. The Hall of Fame golfer who won both the Masters and PGA in 1956 founded Champions Golf Club with the late Jimmy Demaret and can still be found there daily, giving impromptu lessons on the driving range and putting green.

“I never did take a shot in golf as to think it would make me somebody, the shot was all I concentrated on,’’ he said. “I didn’t concentrate on what if I do this, I’ll get that.’’

Jack Burke, Jr.

The Hall of Fame golfer and co-founder of Champions Golf Club grew up at River Oaks CC where his father Jack Burke, Sr., was the head professional and graduated from St. Thomas High School. Burke won his first professional tournament in 1949 – the Metropolitan Open – and went on to win 17 PGA TOUR events, including both the Masters and the PGA in 1956. He played on five Ryder Cup teams, captained two Ryder Cup teams, was an assistant captain once and host the 1967 Ryder Cup at Champions. He is in the World Golf Hall of Fame, Texas Sports Hall of Fame and Texas Golf Hall of Fame. He shares a locker with Tiger Woods at Augusta National

George Foreman

Affectionately known as “Big George”, Foreman grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward and went on to become a two-time World Heavyweight Champion and Olympic gold medalist. After a tough childhood, Foreman took up amateur boxing and won the gold medal in the heavyweight division at the 1968 Olympics. He knocked out then-undefeated Joe Frazier in the second round in 1973 to win the world title but lost it to Muhammad Ali in the 1974 Rumble in the Jungle and retired in 1977. A decade later, he came out of retirement and in 1994 the 45-year-old Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer to share the heavyweight championship. He retired four years later with a record of 76 wins (68 knockouts) and five losses. He has seven daughters, five sons all named George and is an ordained minister.

A.J. Foyt

The son of a mechanic, the Houston native is the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The American racing legend drove in the Indy 500 for 35 consecutive years and won it four times. He is the only driver to win it with both front and rear-engined cars. He started racing midget cars at the age of 18 and has raced – and won – at every level and every different category. He holds the USAC career wins record with 159 and the American championship racing career title with 67. He survived three major crashes and barely escaped a fourth. He attended Lamar, San Jacinto, and St. Thomas high schools but dropped out to become a mechanic and concentrate on racing.

Dan Pastorini

Drafted by the Houston Oilers in the first round in 1971, Pastorini eventually became the soul of the Luv Ya Blue Oilers of the late 1970s. The third player taken in that draft, the tough, flamboyant quarterback thrived under Oilers coach Bum Phillips and led the Oilers to back-to-back AFC title games in 1978 and 1979. Pastorini's best season was in 1978 when he threw for a career-high 2,473 yards and 16  touchdowns. He was traded to Oakland the following season but broke his leg five weeks into the season. A Pro Bowler in 1975, Pastorini also played for the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia before retiring after the 1983 season. He was the first player to wear a “flak” jacket to protect his broken ribs.