Classic Countdown: 8 rookie wins

Eight is a very interesting number in Bassmaster Classic history for a couple of reasons.

Eight is a very interesting number in Bassmaster Classic history for a couple of reasons.

First of all, eight times in Classic history the tournament was won by a rookie — someone who had never qualified for the championship before.

The Classic rookie champions are:

  • Bobby Murray, 1971
  • Rayo Breckenridge, 1973
  • Tommy Martin, 1974
  • Jack Hains, 1975 
  • Stanley Mitchell, 1981 
  • Charlie Reed, 1986
  • David Fritts, 1993
  • Boyd Duckett, 2007

That list is significant to the 13 rookies in this year's Classic. To find out more about them, check out our Classic Countdown for the number 13.

Looking at the list of rookie champions, it's only natural that there were more first year winners in the early days of the Classic than there have been recently. At the first Classic, for example, they were all rookies and one of them had to win. Fields were smaller in the early days, too, so an individual rookie had better odds of breaking through.

Today, with most of the rookies coming through the Federation Nation, Weekend Series and WBT (where the level of competition is strong, but not nearly as strong as in the Bassmaster Elite Series) — and with Classic fields now exceeding 50 anglers — it's tougher than ever for a rookie to win. But it can be done, as Boyd Duckett most recently proved in 2007.

The second most interesting connection between the Classic and the number eight is the number of Classic champs who never won another BASS tournament either before or after their Classic win.

These "flashes in the pan" of bass fishing history are:

  • Rayo Breckenridge, 1973  
  • Bo Dowden, 1980
  • Jack Chancellor, 1985
  • Charlie Reed, 1986
  • Robert Hamilton, Jr., 1992
  • Bryan Kerchal, 1994
  • Dion Hibdon, 1997  
  • Luke Clausen, 2006

Kerchal, of course, didn't have the chance to defend his title or place in bass history. The other winners on the list, however, run the gamut from pretty solid to "how'd they get there?"

Dowden, Chancellor and Hibdon were perennial Classic qualifiers and came close to winning other events, including other Classics. Breckenridge and Reed qualified for six and five Classics in their careers, respectively, but never came close to winning anything else. Hamilton and Clausen made it to three Classics each and their second best finishes in the championship were in the 20s.

With the number seven we're inside a week of the next Classic and find out why Classic champs are bullish, who in the 2009 Classic has been to the winner's circle before, just how rare it is to go to wire-to-wire and which anglers span Classic history.

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