Mack Pendleton Allison
Allison began his baseball career pitching for local teams in Owensboro. He pitched for the Browns between 1911 and 1913 for a total of 45 games. He was the first Owensboro player to make it to the big leagues.
Christopher “Chris” Duke Brown
Brown is a graduate of Owensboro Catholic High School and Notre Dame University. He was drafted in 1984 in the 6th round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he played defensive back for two seasons and was also a member of the kickoff return team.
Vincent “Vince” Lamont Buck
A graduate of Owensboro High School and Central State in Ohio, Buck starred in the 1990 East-West Hula Bowl as a kick-return specialist and defensive back. He played for the Saints for six years, from 1990-1995.
Raymond “Ray” Johnson Chapman
Ohio County, KY
Ray Chapman is remembered best for being the only major leaguer ever killed by a pitched ball. The “beanball” happened during Chapman’s career as a shortstop with the Cleveland Indians in a game with the New York Yankees.
Chapman starred for the Apollo High School basketball team and for the University of Kentucky Wildcats. He was the first player selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1988 NBA draft. During his outstanding NBA career, particularly with the Phoenix Suns, he became known for his dramatic and unorthodox shooting. In the 2004-2005 NBA playoffs, Chapman was a color commentator on TNT, and in 2006 he became the vice president of player personnel with the Denver Nuggets.
Wayne G. Chapman
Daviess County, KY
Wayne, father of Rex Chapman, was a basketball star in his own right. Chapman played for the Kentucky Colonels, the Denver Rockets and Indiana Pacers in the American Basketball Association for 206 games. Chapman guided his teams to two NCAA championships, in 1987 and 1990, and was named National Division II College Coach of the Year as head coach of the Kentucky Wesleyan College Panthers.
Clifford “Cliff” Oldham Hagan
B.1931** Owensboro, KY
Two-time All American, Cliff Hagan starred for the 1949 Owensboro High School state championship team and was a freshman member of the 1951 University of Kentucky national championship team. He was a member of the NBA All-Star team four times and the ABA All-Star Team once. He is a former athletics director at the University of Kentucky. The Cliff Hagan Boys and Girls Club in Owensboro and the Cliff Hagan Baseball Stadium at the University of Kentucky are named in his honor.
Kenneth “Kenny” Lee Higgs, Jr.
After graduating from Owensboro High School in 1973, where he held the title of the all-time leading scorer, Higgs hitched his basketball star to Louisiana State University. He played with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Denver Nuggets, where he ended his career in 1982.
Mark Deyon Higgs
Football star Mark Higgs played for Owensboro High School and the University of Kentucky. He was drafted in 1988 by the Dallas Cowboys, played for Philadelphia in 1989, and was traded to Miami in 1990. In ninety NFL games, he rushed for nearly 2,959 yards and scored fourteen touchdowns. Higgs retired in 1995.
A graduate of Daviess County High School, Johnson realized his lifelong dream when he became a professional jockey in 1980. In 1988 Johnson won the Gardenia Stakes aboard the filly Meter Maid. In 1996, aboard Blow Out, he finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby. Johnson still gallops horses at Churchill Downs.
Willie Lee “W.L.” Johnson
Willie Lee Johnson, a Daviess County native, began riding in 1936. He won his first race in 1937 at Dade Park, now named Ellis Park. He won the Governors Handicap in 1937 and 1938. He is the only jockey to have ridden 68 winners in 26 days. His career spanned twenty-two years, with time off for military service in World War II. Johnson rode Kender in the 1946 Kentucky Derby and Fighting Back in the 1951 Derby.
John “Jughandle” Dewey Morrison
Morrison’s pitching career began in 1916 with the Owensboro Grays. In his first major league start with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1920, he shut out Cincinnati 4-0. He won seventeen games and saved seventeen others during the Pirates 1925 World Series championship season. His nickname came from his sweeping curve ball which made an arc like a jug handle.
A 1919 graduate of Owensboro High School, Oberst went on to become a football star at Notre Dame where he played with the Four Horsemen under Coach Knute Rockne. In the 1924 Paris Olympic Games he represented USA in the javelin, where he won a Bronze medal. The film Chariots of Fire is based on those Olympic games.
Robert “Bobby” Byron Rascoe
Trigg County, KY
Rascoe played basketball for Daviess County High School and Western Kentucky University. From 1963 to 1955 he played for the Philips ’66 Oilers, visiting thirty-five foreign countries. He also played for the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association, named Best Defensive Player in three consecutive seasons. He is a member of the Western Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame.
Daviess County, KY
Foaled in Daviess County, Kentucky, Spend A Buck won the 1985 Kentucky Derby – a race in which he led wire-to-wire. With Angel Cordero up, he set a first three-quarter mile Derby record and was named the 1985 Eclipse Horse of the Year. In his lifetime, Spend A Buck sired twenty-seven stakes winners with earnings over $16 million.
John “Hump” Porter Tanner
Born in Owensboro, John “Hump” Tanner played football for Owensboro High School. He was a member of the Centre College Praying Colonels, the historic team that defeated Harvard College in 1921. Tanner went on to play for several years with Toledo and Cleveland in the National Professional Football League and was a teammate and close friend of Jim Thorpe.
Larry is a member of baseball’s unsung, but essential, umpiring crew. He played baseball at Daviess County High School and the University of Kentucky and began amateur umpiring at games in Daviess County. He entered the minor leagues as an umpire in 1981 and officiated his first big league game ten years later. He has been a National League umpire since he was hired full time in March 1993.
An eight-time world billiard champion and a five-time Player of the Year, Varner is the only player to win championships in five different billiards games. He was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame in 1992 and is considered the best 9-Ball and best all-around player. Varner has won more than eight professional titles. He began making his own cues in 1999 and currently owns and operates Nick Varner Cues & Cases.
Robert “Bobby” Hayes Veach
Bobby Veach boasted a lifetime batting average of .310 for his fourteen-year career in the Major Leagues between 1912 and 1925. He played for Boston, New York, Detroit and Washington. He led the American League twice in doubles, once in triples and hits and three times in runs batted in. After his retirement he worked for the Detroit Tigers organization.
David Roger Watkins
Watkins was both a baseball and football star for Owensboro High School. After a standout American Legion baseball career with Owensboro’s Velvet Bombers, he signed with the Detroit Tigers and later played for the Philadelphia Phillies. Watkins received his M.D. in 1976 and became the medical director of the Frazier Rehabilitation Center at the University of Louisville.
Robert “Bobby” E. Watson
A 1948 graduate of Owensboro High School, Watson was renowned as a basketball player for his deadly two-hand set shot, and went on to help the University of Kentucky Wildcats to their third national title in 1951. He played for the Minneapolis (now Los Angeles) Lakers in 1954. As head coach of Owensboro High School’s basketball team, he won two state championships in 1972 and 1980.
A graduate of Apollo High School, where he earned both All-State Soccer and All-State Baseball honors, Brad was named Kentucky’s Mr. Baseball in 1994. He was a three-time All American Baseball Player at the University of Florida. Brad won a Gold Medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics as a member of the USA baseball team. He was named Expos Player of the Year in 2004 after being drafted by the Montreal Expos. He has played for the Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners. He retired in 2009 and hosts an annual golf tournament to benefit various children’s charities.
Robert Kenneth “Ken” Willis
A graduate of Owensboro High School, Willis was a place kicker for the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants. At the University of Kentucky, he made All-SEC Academic Team from 1987-1989. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Mathematics Education from the University of Kentucky.