GREENVILLE, S.C. – Three days before the bass fishing world will crown its latest champion, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame inducted four legends of the sport into its most honored ring.
The four inductees – Don Wirth, Harold Allen, Bill Huntley, and Stacey King – total decades upon decades of experience in the bass fishing industry, with each making a unique contribution to the sport. All were in attendance and gave heartfelt and occasionally humorous speeches detailing selected highlights of their careers.
As an additional bonus, Sammy Lee, the President of the Board of Directors of the Hall of Fame, announced the impending construction of the International Bass Fishing Center in Cullman, Ala. It will be a 32,000-square-foot facility constructed on a campus along with a 72,000-square-foot civic center.
The programs of the center will rest upon a four-legged stool of exhibits and efforts, including a family fishing experience, a discovery center, a boat and tackle showcase and the BFHOF Conference Center. “We needed to create this umbrella,” Lee said.
For the first time in BFHOF banquet history, each titan of the industry to be inducted was introduced by a familiar face. Wirth, who has written for Bassmaster since 1970 and created the popular “Day on the Lake” series, was introduced by the legendary Bill Dance, who jokingly called him “Dan Worse,” before detailing the writer’s many achievements.
Allen was introduced by fellow bass pro Dave Mansue, who referred to the original member of the Hemphill (Texas) Gang as “perhaps the greatest worm fisherman who ever lived.” Allen fished 15 Bassmaster Classics and won a B.A.S.S. Open during his exceptional career.
Author Steve Price introduced Huntley, who owns T-H Marine, the foremost manufacturer of bass boat parts and accessories. Huntley gave an impassioned acceptance speech, noting that his “two loves, outside of my wife, are fast boats and smallmouth bass.”
Indeed, fast boats were the theme of the night. Even though all four members are into their senior years, there was a glint in their eyes as they talked a bit of trash and compared boat racing abilities and stories. It was all in good fun, but attendees had the feeling that an impromptu tournament or race could break out at any moment.
The final inductee, Stacey King, was introduced by Kevin VanDam, who presented a film about King’s achievements, which also featured an Emmy-worthy array of bloopers. It also touchingly addressed King’s battle with cancer. King fished 12 Bassmaster Classics, won two B.A.S.S. tournaments and topped $700,000 in winnings. He was also an original member of the Nitro Pro Team, which redefined promotional efforts in the bass boat industry.
The BFHOF’s building plans are expected to proceed at a rapid pace. To learn more about the project, or to become a member of the HOF, go to www.bassfishinghof.com.