Nashville area sports figures who died in 2022 – Tennessean

The Nashville area lost several well-known sports figures in 2022.
Here is a look at some of those who died who had excelled on the professional, amateur, collegiate or high school levels.
Billy Joe Adcock, 94, (July 29). In 1946, Adcock became the first person to receive a Vanderbilt basketball scholarship after turning down offers from Tennessee and Kentucky. The former West High star was a four-year starter for the Commodores, a consensus All-American, a three-time All-SEC honoree and scored more than 1,000 career points. Adcock was named an SEC Legend and inducted into the Vanderbilt Athletic Hall of Fame and Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
Jerry Ballou, 74 (March 5). Ballou was an outstanding athlete at Litton High and was The Tennessean Trackman of the Year in 1966 after being the state champion in the 100- and 200-yard dashes. He tied the state record in the 100 at 9.8 seconds. Ballou also made the All-City Baseball first team and was a starting flanker on the football team. He was drafted by the San Francisco Giants.
Santonio Beard, 41 (Feb. 5). After being a two-time Mr. Football award winner at Pearl-Cohn, Beard played running back at Alabama, where he rushed for a total of 1,541 yards and 16 touchdowns during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. The Tennessean named Beard one of the 50 greatest high school players ever from Nashville.
Joe Biddle, 78 (Oct. 26).Biddle spent more than three decades as one of the most popular sports columnists and sports talk radio show hosts in Nashville. He served as sports editor during his time at the Nashville Banner (1979-98), then became a sports columnist for The Tennessean until 2011. Biddle was a four-time Tennessee Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sports Writers Association. He was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. 
Jerry Broadbent, 78 (Nov. 23). In 1961, Broadbent, a star running back at Glencliff, set the Nashville Interscholastic League record for longest run from scrimmage with a 99-yard scamper against West. The following week, he matched the record with a run against Franklin County. Broadbent went on to play at MTSU and spent 24 years as a coach in Metro Nashville.
John Bruhin, 57 (April 5).Bruhin was a heavily recruited offensive lineman from Knoxville who chose Tennessee over Georgia, Kentucky and Memphis. He was the starting right guard on the 1985 team that beat Miami in the Sugar Bowl, the 1986 team that beat Minnesota in the Liberty Bowl and the 1987 team that beat Indiana in the Peach Bowl. Bruhin went on to play four seasons in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mel Brown, 78 (Feb. 8). Brown won 582 games as the McGavock baseball coach from 1972 to 1992, including three state championships. He was the coach at his alma mater Lipscomb University from 1996 to 2000. Brown is in the TSSAA and Lipscomb Athletics halls of fame.
Bob Bundy, 74 (Feb, 21). As a 6-foot-9 high school prospect from Virginia, Bundy was signed by former Vanderbilt basketball coach Roy Skinner in 1965 to replace Clyde Lee, the two-time SEC player of the year. Bundy developed into one of the Commodores’ best players from 1967 to 1969.
⋅ Mike Clark, 58 (July 12). A Greenbrier native, Clark was a standout tight end at Middle Tennessee State. He made the All-OVC team in 1984 after helping lead the Blue Raiders to an 11-3 record and the FCS (then Division I-AA) playoffs.
Charlie Fentress, 86 (Dec. 29). Fentress, from Cohn, was one of Nashville’s most versatile high school athletes in the 1950s. He was the 1955 NIL most valuable basketball player along with being a star halfback in football and outfielder in baseball. He went on to play basketball and baseball at Belmont and was inducted into the Metro Nashville Public Schools Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
Tommy Frensley, 83 (March 30). Frensley spent 36 years as a boys basketball coach in Nashville − 29 at Hillsboro and seven at Donelson Christian Academy. He compiled a 632-304 record. The court at Hillsboro was named in Frensley’s honor in 2007. He was at Hillsboro from 1965 to 1994, won 494 games and led the Burros to the state tournament in 1972, 1974 and 1979. He was in the inaugural Hillsboro Sports Hall of Fame class.
Joe Gaines, 72 (July 29). In 1969, Gaines became Belmont’s first Black scholarship athlete when he began his career on the basketball team. The Mount Pleasant native went on to be a three-time All-Volunteer Athletic Conference player. His 1,955 career points rank 10th in program history. He owns the record for career rebounds (1,895) and set the single game record with 30 against Lipscomb in 1971.
Ricci Gardner, 65 (Feb. 8). After being a four-time TSSAA state track champion at East Nashville, Gardner went on to become an All-American at Tennessee in 1976. He set the NIL record in 1974 in the 100-yard dash at 9.5 seconds and the 220-yard dash at 21.3 He was The Tennessean Trackman of the Year in 1973 and 1974.
Milton Harris, 75 (April 23). Harris was the first boys basketball coach at M.L. King. After three years there, the TSU graduate became coach at Pearl-Cohn and in 1993 took over at McGavock, where he began his career as an assistant. Harris was on the staff at McGavock when the Raiders won the 1976 state championship.
Dean Hayes, 84 (Jan. 7). Hayes spent 57 years as the track and field coach at MTSU. He coached many All-Americans and Olympians from 1965 to 2021 and was inducted into the Blue Raiders Sports Hall of Fame in 1982, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1994 and the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame in 2008. MTSU’s track and soccer stadium is named in Hayes’ honor.
Paul Hoolahan, 72 (Nov. 16). After replacing Roy Kramer as Vanderbilt’s athletics director in 1990, Hoolahan spent six years in charge of the Commodores’ program. He hired Gerry DiNardo as Vandy’s football coach, Jan Van- Breda Kolff as men’s basketball coach and Jim Foster as women’s basketball coach. Hoolahan left in 1996 to become executive director of the Sugar Bowl, where he remained until retiring in 2019.
Mark Howard, 65 (July 24). Howard was one of the most popular sports personalities in Nashville during his 20-year career at NewsChannel 5 and 21 years as co-host of the Morning Wake-up Zone on WGFX-FM. He also spent many years as host of a Tennessee Titans postgame radio show and as co-host of the Predators pregame and postgame shows.
E.J. “Doc” Kreis, 69 (Feb. 9). Kreis was a highly respected strength and conditioning coach at Vanderbilt (1980 to 1985) and MTSU (1985 to 1992). He served in the same position at Colorado (1993-2002) and UCLA (2003-08). In 1991 to 1992 and 1994 to 1995 Kreis was named National Collegiate Strength Coach of the Year by the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society. He was inducted into the USA Strength and Conditioning Hall of Fame.
Larry Lacewell, 85, (May 17). Lacewell was defensive coordinator on Tennessee’s 1990 SEC championship football team, which played in the Sugar Bowl. The Fordyce, Arkansas native left UT in 1991 to become the director of college and pro scouting for the Dallas Cowboys.
Ed Lambert, 73 (Jan. 8). After arriving at Vanderbilt on Gerry DiNardo’s staff as running backs coach in 1992, Lambert spent 10 years with the Commodores. He was promoted to offensive coordinator on Woody Widenhofer’s staff in 1997. Earlier in his career Lambert was a candidate for the TSU head coaching position.
Larry Majors, 81 (Dec. 5). The younger brother of legendary Tennessee football coach and player Johnny Majors, Larry Majors was a standout player for his father Shirley at Sewanee (1960-63). He helped lead the Tigers to a winning record all four seasons. Majors later became a high school coach before joining his father’s staff at Sewanee (1970-77). He was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Sewanee Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.
Roy McDonald, 92 (May 1). After spending 21 years as a baseball umpire on the college and high school levels, McDonald was inducted into the Nashville Umpires Hall of Fame in 1993. The West High graduate was selected to work three NCAA Regional Tournaments, two NAIA World Series and five SEC Tournaments. He was the first Nashville umpire to work an NCAA Tournament.
Johnny Miller, 90 (Nov. 14). After serving as Austin Peay’s athletics director (1978-84), Miller became director of Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools. He was inducted into the TSSAA Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. He also was a high school official for 18 years and an NCAA official for several years, earning recognition as one of the top 25 basketball officials in OVC history.
Denny Moore, 67 (July 13). Moore became the first MTSU baseball player to have his number (2) retired. He was a centerfielder who posted a .351 career batting average (1976-77). At the end of his career, Moore owned the school record for single-season stolen bases (26 in 1976) and career stolen bases (37).
Fred Pickard, 83 (Jan. 1). Pickard set the Columbia Central record for touchdowns in a game with five in his senior season and went on to play at Florida State, where he set the record for career rushing yards with 1,546. He joined the coaching staff at UT Martin in 1975 as an assistant on George MacIntyre’s staff. In 1982, Pickard replaced Lynn Amedee as UT Martin’s coach and stayed through 1985.
Kenny Sidwell, 86 (Dec. 25). Sidwell became Belmont’s men’s basketball and baseball coach in 1962. After two seasons, he left to become the basketball coach at his alma mater, Tennessee Tech, for five years. He returned to Belmont in 1972 for a second stint as basketball coach. In the early 1990s, Sidwell became Belmont’s first full-time athletics director as he helped navigate the school’s move from NAIA to NCAA Division I in 1996.
Fred Valentine, 87 (Dec. 27). After playing football and baseball at TSU Valentine left after his junior year to sign with the Baltimore Orioles in 1956. He became the second Tiger to reach the majors in 1959 and spent parts of seven seasons through 1968 playing outfielder in 533 games for the Orioles and Washington Senators.  
Angelo Volpe, 83 (May 8). A former Tennessee Tech president, Volpe was inducted into the Golden Eagles Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and the OVC Hall of Fame in 2001. During his tenure (1987-2000), Volpe added women’s soccer, built the school’s golf team from a first-year program to a three-time conference champion, and restored the women’s track and field team after a 12-year absence.
Steve White, 48 (Aug. 31). White was a Memphis native who played on the defensive line for the Tennessee Vols (1992-95), then spent seven seasons in the NFL playing for Tampa Bay and the New York Jets. In 94 NFL games, White recorded 119 career tackles and 11.5 sacks.
Jimmy Williams, 43 (July 7). After moving from running back to cornerback, Williams became one of Vanderbilt’s best defensive players in history. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native made the All-SEC first team in 2000, and in May was listed as one of the 100 greatest Commodore players of the past 100 years based on fan voting. He was named an SEC Football Legend in 2013. Williams spent seven seasons in the NFL.
Peggy Williams, 98 (May 9). After graduating from Pearl High, Williams became a member of the inaugural TSU women’s track and field team. In 1943 Williams was among seven females who responded to a sign posted on a bulletin board in the school’s auditorium inviting “any girls” interested in joining the track team to bring shorts, a T-shirt and tennis shoes to a tryout. Williams later spent 39 years at TSU as associate professor for health, physical education and recreation.
If you have an item for Midstate Chatter contact Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.


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