PBC Sports Hall of Fame
Since 1977, the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame, founded by sportswriter Chuck Otterson, has been honoring the accomplishments of athletes who were born, attended school, or achieved their major sports accomplishment in Palm Beach County.
Also honored are coaches, administrators, media, and contributors in Palm Beach County sports. Every year, nominations by the public and the Hall of Fame Committee are voted on by committee members and past inductees. Roger Dean Stadium is now the home of the Palm Beach County Sport Hall of Fame, where banners commemorating inductees hang in the stadium concourse. These are the inductees from inception through 1979:
1977: Jack Nicklaus: professional golfer, considered by many the best in the world
Bob Balfe: sports editor of The Palm Beach Post-Times
Mayo Smith: manager, 1968 World Series champion Detroit Tigers
1978: Kim Chace: Olympic gymnast in 1972 and 1976, when she ranked first in the U.S.
Dick Hoswer: 1961 American League Rookie of the Year
Ken Johnson: pitcher, major leagues, the only one to pitch a no-hitter and lose
Lemar Parrish: seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback, Cincinnati Bengals
Burt Reynolds: football star, Palm Beach High School
Herb Score: Lake Worth High basketball/baseball star, major league pitcher
1979: Hazel Verdes Daniel: champion bowler, first woman in US to open a bowling center (Verdes Tropicana in 1959)
Dick Brown: nine-season major league catcher
Reggie Hurley: founder, West Palm Beach Quarterbacks Club
Sam Marshall: basketball coach, Roosevelt High School
Hank Martin: football, basketball, baseball, and track coach
Phil O’Connell, Sr.: Southern Conference featherweight (1929) and lightweight (1930) boxing champion, University of Florida
Rick Rhoden: 16-year major league baseball player
Ken Stone: All-SEC defensive back, Vanderbilt; played for four NFL teams
Red Whittington: football and baseball coach, Palm Beach High School
West Palm Beach Jai-Alai
The Basque sport of jai-alai came to Florida in Hialeah in 1924, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that it was taken further. The West Palm Beach Jai-Alai fronton opened on 45th Street in Mangonia Park in 1955, one of five to open in Florida between 1953 and 1962. A statewide players’ strike in 1968 led to many players returning to their homeland after being blacklisted, but many returned, and five more frontons opened in Florida during the 1970s.
On December 26, 1978, the fronton was completely destroyed by fire and blamed on arson; no one was ever charged with the crime. The fronton was rebuilt and reopened two years later, but another strike in 1988 caused the end of the pari-mutuel event in most of Florida and Connecticut. West Palm Beach Jai-Alai officially closed at the end of 1994.