The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame released Monday its Class of 2012 inductees, which include Newport News native Jess Kersey, former Virginia women's basketball coach Debbie Ryan, former MLB relief pitcher Billy Wagner and former Daily Press reporter Al Pearce.
Kersey was an official in the NBA and American Basketball Association for 36 years. His 31-year NBA career includes 190 playoff games and 19 finals.
Ryan coached U.Va.'s womens team for 35 years, compiling a 739-324 overall record and making three straight Final Four appearances.
Wagner collected all-conference, all-region and All-America first-team honors while playing for Ferrum from 1991-93. He was a first-round MLB draft pick in 1993 by the Houston Astros, and his 15-year major-league career included stops with the Phillies, Mets, Red Sox and Braves. The lefty has 422 career saves, which is fifth-best all time.
Pearce, who was a Daily Press reporter from 1969 until his retirement in 2004, primarily covered motorsports, and has authored or co-authored 13 books about NASCAR.
Joining them in the Hall of Fame are:
Antonio Freeman, a former Viginia Tech wide receiver who was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1995;
Gerald Henderson, who averaged 15 points per game at Virginia Commonwealth from 1975-78 and was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs;
Ray Hendrick, a Richmond native known as "Mr. Modified" during his 36-year career in motorsports. Hendrick died in 1990.
In a release, Hall of Fame president Eddie Webb said, "The Class of 2012 is an example of the quality of athletes and coaches that are being produced across the Commonwealth. Each nominee's resume is recognized on a national or international level proving the point that the State of Virginia is one of the leaders in producing this nation's top competitors."
The class will be inducted on Saturday, April 28 at the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel. For tickets and more information, call 757-393-8031.
Debbie Ryan, Jess Kersey and former Daily Press reporter Al Pearce among the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame's Class of 2012
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