As of Wednesday, June 13, 2018
GRANGER There are big cities everywhere that claim them, but five of the first eight inductees in the brand new Central Washington Sports Hall of fame are from the Lower Yakima Valley.
Famed Jockey Russell Baze of Granger, New York Yankee pitching ace Mel Stottlemyre of Mabton, Olympic heavyweight boxing champion Pete Rade-macher of Grandview, Olympic heptathlete Kelly Blair LaBounty from Prosser and the late Jim Pomeroy of motocross fame from Sunnyside will enter the hall.
The induction ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 9, at the Yakima Convention Center.
Joining them will be, Chuck “Bobo” Brayton of Vancouver, who coached baseball at Yakima Valley College and Washington State University, Gene Conley of Richland, who played major league baseball and NBA basketball in the same years, and Phil Mahre of Naches, on Olympic slalom gold medalist.
This first class of inductees will be tough to top in the future.
But there other notables out there, like Sunny-side’s Jake Kupp, who played 11 years in the NFL, Steve Mahre, an Olympic silver medalist, and Wapato’s Bill Douglas, who quarterbacked the Washington Huskies to the Rose Bowl.
And don’t forget Evel Knievel. He was born and raised in Butte, Montana but was a fixture in Moses Lake and Sunnyside before gaining his fame. Knievel built his own track at Moses. He opened and operated a Honda dealership there. Then he worked for Don Pomeroy’s motorcycle shop in Sunnyside, from where Jim Pomeroy took wings.
Jim Pomeroy was known for being the first American competitor to win an overall victory in an International Motorcycling Federation Motocross World Championship Grand Prix race. He died in a single car crash in 2006 near Tampico, where he lived at the time.
Baze became the winningest jockey in history, with 12,844 wins when he retired in California in 2016. Stottlemyre emerged as the top Yankee pitcher in 1964, leading them to the World Series.
Rademacher had the distinction of being he first Olympic champion to fight the world champion in his first professional bout. Blair LaBounty participated in the Olympic heptathlon in 1996.