JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame announced the selections for the Hall of Fame Induction Class of 2024.
The newest group includes three NFL football players, a tennis professional, a track and field star, a basketball coach, a baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster, and the first-ever bass fisherman to be inducted.
The Class of 2024 is as follows:
Walter “Red” Barber – Born in Columbus, Barber first started working in radio while at the University of Florida. He caught the eye of Cincinnati Reds General Manager Larry MacPhail who was looking to broadcast his team’s games. Barber went on to broadcast for the Reds, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the New York Yankees.
Richard Duease – Born and raised in Indianola, Duease played many sports throughout his high school and junior college years. He attended Mississippi State and then began his coaching career at Manchester Academy in Yazoo City. He moved to Lee Academy in Clarksdale to coach men’s and women’s basketball. In 1982, he was hired at Madison-Ridgeland Academy, where he still coaches today.
Paul Elias – A native of Laurel, Elias is the first Professional Bass Fisherman to be selected for the Hall of Fame. Elias began tournament fishing as a pro in 1979 and still competes today. In 1982, Paul won the Bassmaster’s Classic Championship in Montgomery, AL. In 2008, he set a record that still stands today for the largest four-day five-bass limit in one tournament of 132 pounds 8 ounce on Lake Falcon in Texas.
Eli Manning – The youngest of the Manning sons, Eli began making his mark in football at an early age. He excelled as a quarterback in high school before following in his father’s footsteps to the University of Mississippi. He was the first player drafted in the 2004 NFL Draft. He enjoyed a 16-year career with the New York Giants, winning two Super Bowls and two Super Bowl MVP Awards.
Jimmy Smith – Born and raised in Jackson, Smith started his football career at Callaway High School as a wide-receiver. He played college ball at Jackson State and then was drafted 36th Overall in the 1992 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. His rookie year, he played mainly Special Teams and took the Cowboys to a Super Bowl Victory. In 1995, Smith caught the eye of Jaguars Head Coach Tom Coughlin at a tryout camp and was signed by the team. He was a five-time Pro-Bowler and led the league in passes caught in 1999.
Savanté Stringfellow – A native of Jackson, Stringfellow attended Provine High School where he was a track and field star. He competed in the long jump, ran hurdles, and had a high jump of 6’11”. He went to Ole Miss where he was coached by Hall of Famer Joe Walker. He claimed three NCAA Titles, as well as six All-American titles. In 2000, he earned a spot on the US Olympic team, where he won a Silver Medal in the long jump.
Becky Vest – Vest grew up in Jackson and attended Provine High School. While in junior high, she won two State Championships in tennis. In high school, she won three more State Championships. Becky chose to attend Odessa Junior College and then Trinity University in Texas. After college, Becky turned professional and played on the Virginia Slims European Tour. She played in the French Open, US Open, and Wimbledon.
Jimmy Webb – Webb grew up on a cattle farm near Florence. While at Mississippi State, Jimmy attained All-American status, All-SEC honors, and All-Academic Status. He was the first-round draft choice by the San Francisco 49ers and played for six season. In 1981, he played with the San Diego Chargers and they won their division and first round playoff contest.
This group will be enshrined during the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Induction Weekend on August 2-3, 2024. Tickets will go on sale in January 2024.