Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame inducts 2016 class

Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame
The Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame 2016 inductees: (left-right) Denny Baxter, Buster Mathis Jr., Katie Teft-Minasola, Jim Augustyn and Travis Richards. (Oct. 20, 2016)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame inducted its 22nd class Thursday evening during a ceremony at Van Andel Arena.

The class of 2016 includes:

OFFICIAL JIM AUGUSTYN

Augustyn started officiating high school football games in West Michigan in the mid-1960s and went on to work in the GLIAC, MIAA and MAC before joining Big Ten crews in the mid-1980s.

“I tell you, I’m so humbled it isn’t funny,” he said. “Just being a football umpire and then to have this honor bestowed, I just can’t believe it.”

BOXER BUSTER MATHIS JR.

Matthis posted a 21-2 record with seven knockouts before retiring at the age of 26.

He is the third son to join his father in the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame. The others are racecar drivers Johnny Benson Sr. and Jr. and table tennis players Del and Todd Sweeris. Mathis Sr. tried to steer his son away from the boxing ring, but eventually trained him.

“It’s great to be beside not only a father, but my role model,” Mathis Jr. said. “And it represents Grand Rapids and I love Grand Rapids.”

HOCKEY PLAYER TRAVIS RICHARDS

Richards was a ninth-round pick of the then-Minnesota North Stars in 1988. He spent his final 10 seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins, playing in a franchise record 655 games. He is the only Griffin to have had his number retired.

Richards said he felt “very honored and fortunate, not only to have so much fun and be in such a great city, but then to receive accolades for that. In my mind, it was such a joy that it’s almost silly because it was so much fun to do and then to have people appreciate you for it, it’s really special.”

GYMNAST KATIE TEFT-MINASOLA

Teft-Minasola is the first gymnast to be inducted into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame.

She grew up training in Grand Rapids and helped the U.S. team win gold at the Pan American Games in 1995. She finished eighth in the all-around at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1996 and served as an alternate for Team USA at the Games in Atlanta. She also coached at Michigan State before moving to Iowa State.

WARREN REYNOLDS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: DENNY BAXTER

Baxter is the CFO and co-owner of the West Michigan Whitecaps, who have won six Midwest League Championship titles.

The other half of the duo who brought professional baseball to town, Lew Chamberlin, was inducted into the Hall of Fame a few years ago.

Additionally, the Grand Action Committee received the outstanding team award from the Hall of Fame this year.

Also at the induction event, the Hall of Fame donated $35,000 to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. The money was raised through the Positively Warren Golf Classic.

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Online:

Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame