The Moore American

August 7, 2013

New HOF class an eclectic group

By Michael Kinney
The Moore American

OKLAHOMA CITY — Wayne Baughman said he had an accidental career. Despite becoming an NCAA champion, three-time All-American and competing in the Olympics and World Championships, the former University of Oklahoma wrestler said he was a borderline thug at at one point.

Baughman said if it had not been for the tough love he received at John Marshall High School and at OU from coach Port Robertson, he would not have made it out of Oklahoma City.

“I was threw off the basketball team for fighting,” Baughman said. “The football coach told me to go out for a sport year around. The only sport available was wrestling, but the wrestling coach didn’t want me. The football coach explained to me that if I didn’t do everything the wrestling coach said, he and his assistant coaches would take me out behind the shed and beat the heck out of me.”

The threat seemed to work. Baughman was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame Monday along with Jay Harris (OU quarterback), LeRoy “Ace” Gutowsky (Oklahoma State running back), John Henry Ward (OSU lineman and wrestler), Clay Bennett (Oklahoma City Thunder chairman), Bill Self Jr. (Kansas basketball coach) and Nadia Comaneci (Olympic gymnast).

“I am really honored to be going in with this particular class,” Baughman said. “I think these are really neat people. I feel a definite connection to every one of these people in a roundabout way. Sports is a small fraternity, a small family. I think it’s great to be going in with this particular group.”

The seven new members were officially inducted at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum with more than 700 guests on hand. They included Lon Kruger, David Boren, George Nigh, Joe Castiglione, Barry Switzer, Billy Tubbs and Sam Presti to name a few.

Of the seven newest members to be inducted into the hall of fame, three of them enter after their death. They included Harris, Gutowsky and Ward.

Oklahoma Heisman trophy winner Steve Owens presented Ward into the Hall. Even though the two played on opposing teams and were bitter rivals, Owens said they became good friends.

“I used to tell John he would have made a great Sooner,” Owens said. “He used to tell me I would be an average Cowboy. We had that kind of relationship. We played for different schools, but had so much respect for each other. I am thankful to be here.”

Bennett was introduced by NBA legend Bill Russell and Self, an Edmond native, had his father present him.

Comaneci, who won an Olympic gold medal, talked about coming from Romania and settling in Oklahoma after marrying former Sooner gymnast Bart Conner.

“Back then people asked why would I settle in Oklahoma,” Comaneci said. “Now they say “Go Thunder.”

Michael Kinney Follow me @eyeamtruth