Heisman Winner Billy Cannon Leads Athletes Honored as Sports Legends

Heisman Winner Billy Cannon Leads Athletes Honored as Sports Legends

BATON ROUGE — LSU All-American and Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon led a group of 35 Louisiana Sports Legends honored at a banquet at the Lod Cook Center at LSU last month.

The event was sponsored by BIC magazine, which has published Louisiana Sports Legends and Heroes.

Cannon led the 1958 LSU Tigers to a national championship.  Others in attendance were:

• LSU head baseball coach Skip Bertman

• LSU basketball coach Dale Brown

• Olympic coach Gayle Hatch

• LSU All-American Eddie Kennison

• LSU football players Gus, Brian, and Todd Kinchen

• Southern baseball coach Roger Cador

• Louisiana College basketball coach Billy Allgood

• Jockey Kent Desormeaux

• LSU basketball player Rudy Macklin

• LSU football player Ruffin Rodrigue

• Golfer Kelly Gibson

• U-High and Nicholls State baseball player Darryl Hamilton

• Central High football coach Sid Edwards who was the only high school coach selected and who served as a representative of all past and present prep coaches.

• Parkview football player Calob Leindecker

• The Bengal Belles for their contribution to LSU athletics

Voice of the Tigers Dan Borne served as Master of Ceremonies, and BIC publisher Earl Heard, who put the event together, presented the awards.

It was a unique gathering of some of the greatest athletes in Louisiana history.  Even many in the audience were renowned, such as former LSU All-American Clyde Lindsey.

Olympic weight-lifting coach Gayle Hatch talked about his Indian heritage, and someone joked that Hatch, who still strikes an imposing figure, may be the world’s tallest Native American.

Three of the “legends” spoke — Skip Bertman, Eddie Kennison, and Darryl Hamilton.  All three told humorous stories, and some teased other inductees or members of the audience.

Kennison took on Cannon.  Billy Cannon was the SEC champion in both the 100-yard dash and the shot put.  In the 100, he ran a 9.4, just shy of the world record, which was then 9.3.  But Kennison too was a great track man, having been a six-time All-American in track.

During this speech, Kennison said he wanted to challenge Cannon to a 100-yard-dash.  Cannon, who is now 75, said nothing.

After adjournment, all the celebrities stayed around to sign autographs.  The biggest crowds gathered around Cannon, perhaps the greatest football player in Louisiana history.

When Kennison approached the great Cannon for his autograph, Cannon wrote a special message to the youngster in the Legends book, saying, “I accept your challenge in the year 2051.”

The two All-Americans shared a laugh at the thought of their racing. Cannon still looks fearsome.  Although he may not be able to run a 100 under 10 flat, you may not want to challenge him in the boxing ring.

Many other Legends were not able to come, such as Drew Bres, Glen Davis, Les Miles, Paul Dietzel, and Shaquille O’Neal.  The late Pete Maravich was also honored.

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