In order for a sport to be a sport, I believe history, recognition of those who cut the path and a location where memorabilia can be viewed and stored has to be in place. Those who have made significant impacts should be recognized at that location.
Baseball, football, hockey and basketball all have Hall of Fames and it’s great to see bass fishing now has one, too.
This past week I got to see the opening of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo. Bass fishing now has a home where legends, leaders and those who have impacted bass fishing for more than 60 years are housed in a state-of-the-art museum within the confines of the fisherman’s paradise of Bass Pro.
The timing was perfect as Bass Pro had just opened its Wonders of Wildlife and Aquarium a week or so earlier. The setting of the BFHOF fits nicely with it. I have been to several aquariums, but none finer than the one there.
Young folks may look at the present, but those of us who have been around fishing for years applaud those who cut the path before us and believe having this museum substantiates fishing as truly a sport.
The story of tournament bass fishing and those who have impacted it now has a home. Being there to see five legends of fishing inducted was a special experience for me. All were people I get to call friends and all were very deserving.
Inducted were Elite Series pro Shaw Grigsby, American Bass Anglers founder Morris Sheehan, Big Bass Splash owner Bob Sealy, Senior BASS writer Louie Stout and BASS Senior writer, legendary outdoorsman and Wired2Fish radio host Wade Bourne. Bourne passed away late last year.
Walking through the hall past the bronze plaques and other memorabilia, I got to remember the years I have covered the sport, both past and present, and the significant impact each had on me choosing my current profession. Some things made me smile while others brought a tear to my eye, but seeing it all with many of the legends of the sport in the room was a big plus.
I remember exactly when the media bug struck me. I was doing basketball on the radio at WJBC and got asked to do a radio program there by Don Munson. Funny thing, it lasted five years and during that time Ann Lewis of BASS asked if I would like to attend the Bassmaster Classic.
I had been to several before, but not as a guest of BASS. That was when things changed for me. I had a real job, but fishing and the outdoors was in my blood and Ann saw my passion. She gave me a chance and I took advantage of it. BASS TV guru Bob Cobb told me to stick with it and never give up on my goals. I got to see him at the HOF and felt like a little kid meeting Babe Ruth all over again.
Matt Vincent, then editor of BASS Times, gave me a chance at writing and told me to do it my way. He said “your passion will come through” and six covers and numerous articles later I guess it did. I am not the best writer and I write like I talk. I have a radio and television background but no formal writing training, so writing in AP style meant as much to me as a branch does to a squirrel. There is always another branch.
Others who were there and I get to call friends included Don Barone, who writes for BASS but has five Emmys from his days at ESPN, Jerry McKinnis, who brought fishing into our living rooms for more than 50 years, and Earl Bentz, lead dog at Triton boats who also raced boats for Mercury.
Others I respect included Johnny Morris, John Barns and Lynn Reeves at Strike King and Lews, respectfully, and a whole host of folks such as Dave Mercer BASS MC and Mark Zona, BASS funnyman who has his own TV show.
One of my favorite anglers who has retired is Davy Hite. He spent a few minutes going over old times. Davy is now on the Bassmaster and BASS Live and the world would be a better place if everyone was like him.
This annual event was like old home week for me and I hope I get to go to many more. It brightens my light.