Local Legends

Beaumont's got game! (In more ways than just knowing how to pull off a winning sporting event.) Not only are we known for our oil history and our music, but we've got a few famous sports legends as well. Here's a few we're proud to call our own.

Babe Zaharias Golf

Babe Zaharias

Track & Field, Golf

Mildred Ella "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias brought international attention to Beaumont when she not only competed in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, but she brought home two gold medals and one silver.

Born June 26, 1911, in Port Arthur, her family moved to Beaumont in 1915. While she dropped the "c" out of her surname, she acquired a nickname, "Babe," a name given to her by the boys she played sandlot baseball with. They thought she batted like Babe Ruth. In 1932, she competed in eight out of 10 track field events at the Amateur Athletic Union. She won first place in the shot put, javelin and baseball throws, eight-meter hurdles and long jump. She tied for first in the high jump and placed fourth in discus. That performance qualified her for the Olympics, where she broke world records in the javelin toss, high jump, softball throw and 80-meter hurdles.

She pitched at spring training for the St. Louis Cardinals, held golf ball driving exhibitions with Gene Sarazen, played donkey-softball with an all-male touring softball team and challenged the winning horse of the Kentucky Derby to a foot race. In 1938, she married George Zaharias, a wealthy wrestler. Golf became her focus and she went on to win 13 consecutive tournaments.

Once she turned pro in 1947, she helped found the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 1950. During her professional career, she won 31 tournaments and was a member of the LPGA Hall of Fame. In 1953, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She died in 1956 at the age of 45 in Galveston. She is buried in Beaumont.

This information is courtesy of the Beaumont Enterprise

Billy Tubbs

Billy Tubbs

Basketball

Basketball icon Billy Tubbs lettered three years in basketball at Central High School and played at Lon Morris Junior College where he helped the Bearcats reach the National Junior College semi-finals. He received his bachelor's from Lamar University in 1958 and his masters from Stephen F. Austin in 1959. While at Lamar, he lettered two years under Coach Jack Martin and became Martin's assistant coach from 1960-1971. He went on to become head coach at Southwestern University from 1971-1973 and returned to Lamar University from 1976 to 1980.

Tubbs gained national attention those four years, leading the Cardinals to a 75-46 record and the school's first two NCAA Tournament appearances. He posted a 23-9 record in 1978-1979, won the Southland Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament where his team upset Detroit in the first round before losing to Michigan in the second round. A year later, the Cardinals went 22-11, won another SLC championship and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament with wins over Weber State and number-five ranked Oregon State, losing to Clemson. He earned SLC Coach of the year honors in 1978 and 1980, and won three conference championships from 1977-1979.

Tubbs spend 14 years as Oklahoma head coach. He led the Sooners to the NCAA championship game in 1988 and posted a 333-132 record with a winning percentage of .716. He took OU to nine NCAA tournaments and four NIT's during his tenure, including a streak of six straight "Sweet Sixteen" appearances from 1985 to 1990. He was named Big Eight Coach of the Year four times - 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989 - and was names Basketball Weekly National Coach of the Year in 1984 and 1985.

Tubbs then moved to TCU where he guided the Horned Frogs to a 156-95 record. He took TCU to one NCAA Tournament and a pair of NIT's, and earned 1995 Southwest Conference Coach of the Year honors. Tubbs returned to Lamar in 2002 as Director of Athletics. In March 2003, he added head basketball coach to his title.

This information is courtesy of the Beaumont Enterprise

Bubba Busceme

Bubba Busceme

Boxing

Olympic and Golden Glove boxer James Anthony "Bubba" Busceme was born in Beaumont and graduated in 1970 from South Park High School, where he lettered in track. But he became a boxer long before he lettered in track. He entered his first Golden Gloves competition in 1959 at the age of seven. Although he came in 57th, he remained steadfast and eventually became a five-time state Golden Gloves champion (1968-1972) and a four-time Golden Gloves National champion.

As a 16-year-old SPHS student and standout, he earned an invitation to compete at the United States Olympic trials, but declined. Watching fellow Texas and boxing rival Kenny Weldon, a boxer he'd beaten easily on several occasions, advance to the trials final on ABC's Wide World of Sports, Busceme came to the realization that he could be an Olympian.

In 1971, he won a bronze medal in the Pan American Games. In peak condition, he swept through his first two Olympic preliminary rounds. Then he faced his first Eastern Block fighter in the quarterfinals. He punished Szczepanski for three rounds, bruising the Polish fighter and knocking him down twice. But the judges from Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and the Soviet Union judged Szczepanski the superior fighter in a 3-2 decision. The crowd erupted in jeers. Busceme was quickly escorted from the ring. The U.S. team decided not to protest the outcome despite five of their boxers being dealt bad decisions. Angry by the outcome, Busceme retired from amateur boxing.

He boxed professionally from 1974-1976. Re-entering the ring in 1979, after a short break, he remained active in pro ranks until 1983. He is best remembered for his 1982 WBC world championship title fight with Alexis Arguello in Beaumont. 

This information is courtesy of the Beaumont Enterprise

Carroll Resweber

Carroll Resweber

Racing

Born in Port Arthur, Texas on January 6, 1936, Carroll Resweber's love of two wheelers came early in his life, first with bicycles, then a Cushman scooter. By the time he was 16, he owned a Harley-Davidson 80-cubic inch "Knucklehead" and was burning up his hometown streets.

When he turned 17, he began racing on dirt tracks in both Houston and Fort Worth. In 1955, he moved his family to Milwaukee to race for engine builder Ralph Berndt. The following year, he earned his first AMA National finish by taking fifth at the Springfield Mile in Illinois. He earned his first AMA Grand National victory at the Charity Newsies race in Ohio on June 18, 1957. Two months later, he won again in St. Paul, Minnesota, proving the first win was no fluke.

Riding for Harley-Davidson, Resweber started the 1958 season with a fourth-place finish in the Daytona 200. That summer saw him earn an impressive string of four straight Grand National finishes, including wins at Du Quoin, Illinois and St. Paul, Minnesota. The string of races gave Resweber his first AMA national championship. He won the title by just one point over 1957 champion, Joe Leonard. En route to his second championship in 1959, he added first-place wins from Sacramento, California and Springfield, Illinois in addition to winning the St. Paul AMA Grand National for the third year in a row.

Resweber edged out Leonard one more time for the AMA national championship in 1960, winning four nationals on his path to a third title. The 1961 season marked the pinnacle of his career. He garnered five national wins and dominated that year. He also took his fourth AMA Grand National championship. In 1962, on his way to his fifth straight title, Resweber won at Bossier City, Watkins Glen and Hinsdale.

His hopes and dreams culminated in a devastating climax in Lincoln, Illinois when, during a practice session with dust flying, he failed to see a fallen bike. He hit it at high speed. The collision gave him a concussion, a broken neck, a broken chest bone and six fractures of his right leg. He was in a body cast for nine months. It took several years for him to recover and he never raced again. His dedication to Harley-Davidson remained, however, and he went to work for the Harley-Davidson Motor Company as a machinist, making special parts for racing machines. Carroll was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame in 1998. 

This information is courtesy of the Beaumont Enterprise

Charles Bubba Smith

Charles Bubba Smith

Actor, Football

Actor and football great, Charles A. "Bubba" Smith was born February 28, 1945 in Beaumont, Texas. He graduated from Charlton-Pollard High School where he played for his father, Coach Willie Ray Smith, Sr. Together, with this brothers Willie Ray, Jr. and Tody, Bubba made Carlton-Pollard a powerhouse in high school football. 

In Bubb'a senior year, the school went 11-0 and college recruiters beat down the door at the Smith household until Bubba decided to attend Michigan State University. When he reached East Lansing, he was 6' 8" and 280 pounds, bigger than almost all offensive linemen in the late 1960s. Because of his basketball and track history in high school, however, Smith wasn't just big - he was fast and coordinated as well. With Smith shoring up the Spartan defense, MSU held Michigan to minus fifty-one rushing yards, Ohio State to minus twenty-two and Notre Dame to minus twelve. In 1965 and 1966, the Spartans went 19-1-1, willing two Big Ten and two national titles. A popular Spartan cheer of "Kill, Bubba, Kill!" was echoed throughout his career.

In 1967, Smith was the No. 1 draft pick in the NFL and he was chosen by the Colts. Bubba remained with them through the 1972 season. After missing his final season with the Colts due to an injury, Smith was then traded to the Oakland Raiders. In 1975, he moved to Texas to play for the Houston Oilers until 1977 where he played his final game. A ten-year veteran of the NFL, Bubba wrote his memoirs, "Kill, Bubba, Kill," with Hal De Windt in 1983. He has been honored by the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988, All-America in 1965 and 1966, All-Big Ten in 1965 and 1966, UPI Lineman of the Year in 1966, NFL No. 1 Draft Pick in 1967 and Michigan State Hall of Fame in 1992.

Upon leaving football, he developed a successful career as an actor in small movie and television roles. He is best known for his role as Moses Hightower in the "Police Academy" movie series. In addition, he had roles in "Stroker Ace," "Black Moon Rising," "The Wild Pair," "Gremlins 2," "The Naked Truth," "The Silence of the Hams," "Holy Matrimony," and "Down 'n Dirty." Smith died on August 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California from natural causes.

This information is courtesy of the Beaumont Enterprise.

Coleman Roddy

Coleman Roddy

Drag Racing

From a modest initial goal of just wanting to do well enough to have his name printed in the "National Dragster," a publication of the National Hot Rod Association, Port Arthur's Coleman Roddy blazed a path of driving glory that twice took him to the pinnacle of the National Hot Rod Association's drag racing wars. Instead of a mere mention, Roddy wound up featured on its cover, becoming a legend in his own time.

These accolades came about due to his accomplishment of winning back-to-back National Hot Rod Association Winston Competition Eliminator titles in 1983 and 1984, something no other driver had accomplished before, and an achievement that would go unmatched for the next 20 years until Dean Carter pulled it off in 2003-2004. Roddy might have set the bar even higher had he not decided to retire after the 1984 championship to devote more time to the R&R dealerships he operates with his father, Ed. 

His meteoric rise onto the national racing spotlight began in 1971 with a '68 Camaro. His first significant Win was in 1976, when he captured Modified honors at the Division 4 Winston Series race at State Capitol Dragway in Baton Rouge. The escalation to the big time came five years later when NHRA did away with the Modified eliminator class, which led him to switch to a '65 Corvette gasser and move into the Competition Eliminator category. There would be another car change after the 1983 title - this time to an '84 Pontiac Firebird - but nothing slowed Coleman Roddy's pursuit of greatness. In addition to the NHRA Winston Competition eliminator titles in '83 and '84, his three-years of domination included twice winning the Winternationals, being named Sportsman Racer of the Year, and earning the Quaker State Sportsman Cup.

This information is courtesy of the Beaumont Enterprise

David Ozio

David Ozio

Bowling

In 1977, David Ozio joined the Professional Bowlers' Association Tour and immediately displayed the drive and determination that eventually led him to the Player of the Year Award many years later. Ozio set his mind to succeed and doggedly played the tour. His hard work paid off in 1985 when he won his first tournament at the AMF Angle Open in St. Louis. A second win came that year and Ozio finished 11th on the earnings list.

In the next five years, he won four more titles. He also consistently finished in the top 20 in earnings and average each of those seasons. In 1991, Ozio began the season placing first in two tournaments. He also won the Firestone Tournament of Champions. He led the tour, earning more than $225,000. That same year, after 14 years on the pro tour, Ozio received the 1991 Player of the Year award from the Professional Bowler's Association.

His 11 titles and consistent performances garnered him a place in the Hall of Fame in 1995. His days of competition were far from behind him. In 2004, he held the first round qualifying lead in the 12th Annual American Bowling Congress Senior Masters at the Suncoast Bowler Center held in Las Vegas. He rolled a 1,264 five-game total with games of 245, 214, 278, 259 and 268 to out-distance second place Master's qualifier Paul McCordic of Sugarland. McCordic rolled a 1,202. In Las Vegas, Ozio came out on top of a Senior Masters field of 255 of the sport's top senior professional and amateur players who all competed for a $159,000 prize and $20,000 winner's prize.  

This information is courtesy of the Beaumont Enterprise

jay bruce

Jay Bruce

Baseball

Jay Bruce was born April 3, 1987 in Beaumont, Texas to Joe and Martha Bruce. He attended high school at West Brook where he played baseball. During his high school career he was a third-team All-American. In his senior year he batted .538 with 12 home runs, 31 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases. Bruce had accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Tulane University, but opted instead to turn professional out of high school. He was drafted to the Cincinnati Reds in 2005 as the the 12th overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft.  

Bruce started his Minor League Baseball career playing in the Gulf Coast League and Pioneer leagues, earning top prospect and second best prospect. He was the promoted to the Dayton Dragons in 2006 where he excelled as a Mid-Season All Star, an All Star Game Top Star, a Post-Season All Star, a Baseball America Low Class A All Star and a Baseball America Minor League All Star. In 2007, Bruce made it to the Red's double-A team, the Chatanooga Lookouts and was selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game. 

His Major League debut was in 2008 and continued to play with the Red's until the 2016 season. During that time he was on the All-Star team 3 times. HE has since played with the New York Mets part of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons. He joined the Cleveland Indians for a part of the 2017 season and the Seattle Mariners for some of the 2018 and 2019 season.

Bruce currently plays for the Philadelphia Phillies and  who had dominant start being named the NL Player of the Week after his start with the team.

Jay is married to his wife Hannah, who have been together since high school. They have two sons, Carter and Max.

Jerry Ball

Jerry Ball

Football

As a Bruin for the West Brook High School football team, Jerry Ball made his school proud. He made Beaumont even prouder when he went professional, playing for the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings. 

Born in Beaumont on December 15, 1964, he was nicknamed "Ice Box" playing fullback, defensive end and linebacker in high school. As a senior, he rushed for more than 1,000 yards. He led the team to the 1982 Texas 5A championship in Austin. He went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he was moved to nose tackle. He subsequently was named all-Southwest Conference three times, and All-American. During his senior year, he was defensive MVP of the Aloha Bowl. As a senior, he was a finalist for the Outland Trophy, given to the outstanding collegiate interior lineman.

The Detroit Lions drafted Ball in 1987 and immediately put him to work in the position that had won him All-American honors - nose tackle. Dubbed "The Governor" by Coach Wayne Fontes, Ball was an all-rookie pick that first year. The following year, he made 68 tackles and 18 and a half sacks, including the one and only safety in the 10-year career of legendary running back, Eric Dickerson.

Ball went on to become a 3-time Pro Bowler in 1989, 1990 and 1991. In 1991, Ball was injured by a "chop block," which was, at that time, legal. As a result, the NFL instituted the "Jerry Ball Rule," which outlawed blocks of this type. Ball remained on the injured list through the end of that season and into the 1992 season. The following year, he was traded to Cleveland for a third round draft pick, and then to the Oakland Raiders. From 1997 to 1999, Ball played for Minnesota. Ball now has his own Detroit-based clothing company licensed by the NFL, called Ice Box Sportswear. 

This information is courtesy of the Beaumont Enterprise

Jimmy Johnson

Jimmy Johnson

Football

With sheer determination, Jimmy Johnson fought his way up the football ranks from being a local football standout to a two-time Super Bowl winning coach. Born August 14, 1943, Johnson grew up in Port Arthur. A member of the Thomas Jefferson High School football team, Johnson earned All-State honors as a two-way lineman. At the University of Arkansas, he was named an All-Southwest Conference defensive lineman and helped the team win the 1964 championship. He lettered three times at the school and later was named to Arkansas' All-Decade Team of the 1960s.

Johnson's coaching career began right out of college. He became the defensive line coach at Louisiana Tech in 1965. In 1966, an assistant's job fell through at Florida State and Johnson spent the year as assistant coach at Wichita State. Then, when he was 25 years old, he became the defensive coordinator when Johnny Majors brought him to Iowa State.

Johnson spent two years with Iowa State. Then je joined Chuck Fairbanks' Oklahoma staff. In 1973, he went back to Arkansas, this time as the defensive coordinator under Frank Broyles, his college coach. Johnson went on to be Pittsburgh's assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. In his two years there, his defense was heralded as one of college football's all-time great defenses. In 1979, he took head coach duties at Oklahoma State.

Johnson rebuilt the team. In five years, the team had a 29-25 record and made two bowl appearances. He continued his winning ways when he went to the University of Miami. He led the Hurricanes to a 52-9 record and warned two Orange Bowl titles and a national championship. The team won a staggering 36 straight regular season games from 1985-1988, the fifth longest winning streak in NCAA history. It also won 20 consecutive road games in his four-year tenure as coach.

In 1989, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, who also happened to be a former Arkansas teammate of Johnson's hired him to join the National Football League as the Cowboys coach. He replaced the legendary Tom Landry. Johnson took the job and after one full season brought the team from one win to being a playoff caliber team. By 1991, the team sent four players to the Pro-Bowl, the first since 1979. The Cowboys were the first NFL team to have the leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, and receiver, Michael Irvin, in the same year. The 1991 playoffs marked the first post-season win for the Cowboys since 1982. The clubs' 11-5 record in 1991 was their best since 1983.

Johnson led the Cowboys to back-to-back Super Bowl wins in 1992 and 1993. He quit the team following an argument with Cowboy owner, Jerry Jones. After a brief stint as a television football analyst, he took the head coaching job for the Miami Dolphins in 1996, replacing another legendary coach in Don Shula. He coached the Dolphins for three years and retired in 1999. He again became a television football analyst for Fox Sports.

This information is courtesy of the Beaumont Enterprise.

Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

Baseball

Kevin Charles Millar made his mark as a Lamar Cardinal baseball player by leading his team not only in home runs in 1992, but leading them to the 1993 NCAA Tournament. In 2004, however, his name became a household word throughout the country when he helped the Boston Red Sox win their first World Championship since 1918. They defeated the New York Yankees.

Lamar University retired Millar's "number 15" jersey. Millar played with the Florida Marlins from 1998 to 2003. Then his contract was sold to the Japanese Central League Chunichi Dragons. Before the deal could be made, it had to clear the waivers, but the Red Sox broke an unwritten rule. They blocked the deal with a waiver claim. In a shocking twist, the Marlins repaid the money the Dragons had paid for Millar. Then, the Sox paid a similar sum to the Marlins. A long-flyball hitter, Millar's left-field power made him a natural for Fenway Park.

In 2004, Millar maintained a second-half season average of .297. He also had 36 doubles, 18 home runs and 74 runs batted in. He held a .383 on-base percentage. He also tied Cleveland's Hafner for the American League lead and a personal career high 17 hit-by-pitches. He started 67 games on first base, 53 in right field and was the designated hitter seven times.

During the season, he had a nine-game hitting streak from May 1-10. His average during that streak was .485. He hit home runs in three straight games from July 21-23 and was named A.L. Player of the Week for July 19-25. He also got his 100th home run. In post season, he hit .238. He hit four doubles, one home, six RBIs and walked eight times in 14 at bats. He started 12 of the games at first base.

In 648 games, Millar's stats include 347 RBIs, 288 runs, 593 hits, 141 doubles, 13 tripes, four stolen bases and has 235 walks for a .362 on-base percentage. 

This information is courtesy of the Beaumont Enterprise

Bum Phillips

O.A. Bum Phillips

Football

Coach O.A. "Bum" Phillips was born September 29, 1923 in Orange, Texas, attended high school in Beaumont and played football at Lamar Junior College (now Lamar University). He enlisted in the Marine Corps shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into World War II.

After returning from war, Phillips enrolled at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, lettering in football in 1948 and 1949 and graduating with a degree in Education in 1949. Bum got his nickname when his little sister's attempts to say "brother" came out "bumble" and later "bum." Bum's coaching career began on the high school level. He had positions at Nederland, Port Neches, Amarillo and Jacksonville. While at Nederland, Phillips took the Bulldogs to the state playoffs in 1955.

His college coaching stints included working as an assistant coach at Texas A&M University under Paul "Bear" Bryant, the University of Houston with Bill Yeoman, Southern Methodist under Hayden Fry, the University of Texas-El Paso and Oklahoma State University. Phillips then moved on to the National Football League, working as an assistant defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers under Coach Sid Gillman. When Gillman was named head coach of the Houston Oilers, he took Bum with him as defensive coordinator. The team had just suffered through consecutive 1-13 seasons, but Bum created a defense that turned the team around. They finished the first season 7-7, garnering more victories than the previous three Oiler teams combined.

In 1975, Bum was named head coach and general manger of the Oilers. The team went 10-4, defeating every team on their schedule except Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Phillips served as the Oilers' head coach through 1980 and was the winningest coach in franchise history with a 53-35 record. He became head coach for the New Orleans Saints in 1981-1985 before retiring to his horse ranch in Goliad, Texas.

This information is courtesy of the Beaumont Enterprise

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