Helton Highlights UT Inductees for Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame

UT Inductees / Credit: UT Athletics

MLB great Todd Helton is one of five individuals with ties to Tennessee Athletics who have been selected as part of the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame 2020 induction class.

The inductees joining Helton—who was a dual-sport star at UT from 1993-95—are former UT baseball coach Mark Connor (1988-89), former Lady Vols basketball player Gloria (Scott) Deathridge (1971-74), former football player Clark Duncan (1977-78, 80) and former men’s basketball player Steve Hamer (1992-96).

Football VFL and prominent NFL television analyst Charles Davis will serve as the program’s guest speaker.

Three others with UT connections will be honored as GKSHOF award winners for 2020. Current football standout Trey Smith is this year’s recipient of the Pat Summitt “Ignite Greatness” Award. Football VFL and Super Bowl champion Dustin Colquitt (2001-04) has been selected as the Pro Athlete of the Year. And longtime UT faculty member and honorary letterman Buck Jones will receive the GKSHOF Special Recognition Award.

Due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no in-person induction ceremony this year. Instead, the inductees will be honored during a televised one-hour special on CW-affiliate WBXX on Tuesday, July 21 starting at 7 p.m. ET.

Fans interested in supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley through a virtual sponsorship for the 39th annual induction ceremony can do so HERE. Donations will provide Boys & Girls Clubs in Knox, Blount, Loudon and Anderson counties with much needed resources to continue to serve young people as those communities respond to, and recover from, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since 1982, the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony has celebrated Knoxville sports with some of the area’s finest sports achievers. Each year, 10 local individuals are inducted into the Hall of Fame for their achievements in athletics, coaching, sports administration or officiating.

Connor served as the head baseball coach at Tennessee in 1988 and 1989. He also spent five seasons as the program’s pitching coach from 1974-78, helping lead the program to four winning seasons in that span.

However, Connor is best known for his decorated career as an MLB assistant coach, which included stints with the New York Yankees (1984-87, 1991-92), Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-00), Toronto Blue Jays (2001-02), Texas Rangers (2003-08) and Baltimore Orioles (2011).

During Connor’s time as the pitching coach for the Diamondbacks, Randy Johnson won back-to-back National League Cy Young Awards in 1999 and 2000. Connor also spent a handful of seasons as a pitching coach in the minor leagues, including two years with the Knoxville Smokies in 1994 and 1995.

Gloria (Scott) Deathridge spent three years on the Tennessee women’s basketball team, playing for coach Margaret Hutson from 1971-74.

During her time with the team, UT compiled a 54-12 record, capped by a 25-2 mark in 1974 and a third-place finish that season at the AIAW Region II Championships in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

A two-time all-state player from Bradley Central High School in Cleveland, Tennessee, Deathridge made the UT squad after a 30-player tryout in Alumni Gym in 1971. She would later earn a spot on the Eastern Region USA All-Star Team that had the opportunity to represent its country vs. the USSR.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UT, she enjoyed a career with TVA from 1975-2005, retired and then transitioned into a second career in real estate. She spent eight years serving on the Knox County Board of Education and has been involved with a number of other boards and organizations, including the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Leadership Knoxville, UT Chancellor’s Associates and the YMCA Black Achievers Program among others.

Duncan signed with the Vols and head coach Johnny Majors after a standout prep career at Unicoi County High School in his hometown of Erwin, Tennessee. A three-year letterman, he was Tennessee’s starting free safety in 1978.

Following his collegiate playing days, Duncan embarked on a highly successful career as a high school coach (football and softball) and administrator at multiple Knoxville-area schools.

Hamer was a four-year starting post player for Tennessee from 1992-96. A native of Grand Junction, Tennessee, he played in 104 games during his time with the Vols, racking up a total of 1,418 career points. He ranks 21st on the school’s all-time scoring list.

To date, Hamer is one of just six 7-footers ever to suit up for the Vols. During his final two seasons in Knoxville, 1994-95 and 1995-96, he led Tennessee in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots.

Following his senior season, Hamer was selected in the second round of the 1996 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics.

In recent years, the UT graduate has worked as a color analyst on select SEC Network basketball telecasts as well as occasionally filling in on Vol Network radio broadcasts.

Helton is one of the greatest players in the history of Tennessee baseball. The Knoxville native was a two-sport athlete during his time at UT, staring on the football and baseball teams. Helton spent three seasons as a backup quarterback for the Vols, appearing in 12 games. While Helton was a talented football player, the baseball diamond is where he truly excelled.

Helton was a standout pitcher and hitter for the Big Orange, helping lead the program to the College World Series in 1995 after a record-breaking season in which he hit .407 with 20 home runs and a school record 92 runs batted in. On the mound, Helton went 8-2 with a 1.66 ERA and set a single-season record with 12 saves. He was a three-time All-American and was named the National Player of the Year by multiple outlets as a junior in 1995. To this day, Helton still holds program records for career home runs (38), RBI (238), walks (147) and saves (23).

Following his record-breaking collegiate career, Helton was selected by the Colorado Rockies with the eighth overall pick in the 1995 Major League Baseball Draft. Helton spent all 17 years of his MLB career with the Rockies, becoming arguably the greatest player in the franchise’s history. He is the Rockies’ career leader in games played (2,247), at bats (7,962), runs (1,401), hits (2,519), total bases (4,292), doubles (592), home runs (369), RBI (1,406), walks (1,335) and intentional walks (185). In 2007, Helton helped lead Colorado to its first World Series appearance in franchise history.

Helton racked up a long list of awards and accolades during his Major League career, including five All-Star appearances, four Silver Slugger Awards, three Gold Gloves and a league batting title (2000). Helton’s No. 17 jersey was retired by the Rockies in 2014.

-UT Athletics



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