A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

2018 Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame class includes trainer Bob Baffert, UK football great Sam Ball

Seven individuals who have made outstanding contributions to sports during the past several decades have been selected as the 2018 class of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame.

A selection committee comprised of 15 sports media from throughout the commonwealth selected this year’s class. All votes were independently tabulated by regional accounting firm Dean Dorton, one of the largest accounting and advisory firms in Kentucky, with offices in Louisville and Lexington.

The 2018 KAHOF class members and their families will be honored on Aug. 22 at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville. For ticket information or sponsorship opportunities, contact Julie Howell at jhowell@louisvillesports.org or call 502-587-6742.

The KAHOF, which has been in almost continuous operation since 1963 by an all-volunteer organization, now is overseen by the Louisville Sports Commission, a Kentucky-based nonprofit whose mission is to create, host, and operate sporting events and activities that enhance the economics and quality of life of the commonwealth.

“The KAHOF Class of 2018 recognizes seven outstanding individuals who have had a major impact on sports in the Commonwealth and on the national stage,” said Louisville Sports Commission President and CEO Karl Schmitt Jr. “As the new caretakers of this prestigious organization, we want to acknowledge the outstanding volunteers who created the KAHOF legacy and want to thank the Selection Committee members for their hard work and commitment to excellence.

“We are thrilled to announce a new presenting sponsorship — the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame fueled by the Kentucky Lottery, as well as regional accounting and advisory firm Dean Dorton for officially tabulating the votes. Also we want to acknowledge the longstanding partnership between the KAHOF and the Louisville Arena Authority.”

The KAHOF Class of 2018:

Sam Ball — A native of Henderson, Ky., Sam Ball was a three-year starter at offensive line at the University of Kentucky, and as a senior in 1965, he was a consensus All-American, All-SEC, team co-captain, and earned his BA degree. In 1966, Ball was drafted in the first round by the Colts and the second round by the Jets, the final year before the AFL and NFL merged. He played five years in the NFL with the Baltimore Colts, appeared in two Super Bowls, and earned a Super Bowl ring with the Colts’ 16-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V. Ball was on the losing side in Super Bowl III when Joe Namath led the New York Jets’ historic 16-7 upset of the Colts. Ball was a four-year starter at Henderson County High when the Fighting Colonels posted a 32-2-2 record.

Bob Baffert — An Arizona native raised on a ranch in Nogales, Bob Baffert became a fixture at the Kentucky Derby with winners Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002), American Pharoah (2015), and Justify (2018). The first three of these won the Preakness and lost the Belmont;Baffert then successfully conditioned American Pharoah to the first Triple Crown win in 37 years, followed by Justify in 2018. Baffert’s Derby winners all trained at Churchill Downs during their respective Triple Crown campaigns, drawing national and international attention to the Commonwealth. Baffert is a three-time winner of the Kentucky Oaks; won Eclipse Awards as top trainer in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2015; has the most Triple Crown wins with 14 and second-most Breeders Cup wins with 14.

Bob Beatty — A Missouri native, Bob Beatty has spent 40 years coaching football, including 19 as head coach at Louisville Trinity High School. He was named national high school coach of the year in 2018 after the Shamrocks captured their 13th state title under his direction. His overall record at Trinity currently is 224-35 (.87 win percentage) with multiple games annually against the top prep schools in Kentucky, Nashville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Dayton, and Florida. Coming straight out of college, Beatty spent two seasons coaching in prep ranks before being named offensive coordinator at William Jewell College (1980-86) where the Cardinals won several conference titles and finished runner-up in the NAIA National Championship.

Bernie Bickerstaff — A native of Benham, Ky., in Harlan County, Bernie Bickerstaff is a 33-year veteran of the NBA as head coach, assistant coach, front office executive, and scout. He was starting point guard and honorable mention all-state for the all-black East Benham High School, then played college basketball at San Diego State. In the NBA, Bickerstaff had head coaching stints with Denver, Seattle, Charlotte, and Washington, and was NBA coach of the year in 1986-87 with the Sonics. Bickerstaff has served as general manager for Charlotte and Denver, and served 12 years as assistant coach with the Washington Bullets, where his team won an NBA Championship, competed in three NBA finals, and 10 playoff berths. Currently a scout with Cleveland, he earned a second NBA title in 2016 with the Cavaliers. In 2014, Bickerstaff earned NBA’s Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award.

Nicky Hayden — A native of Owensboro, Nicky Hayden grew up dirt bike racing against kids twice his age and raced superbikes at age 17 in 1997 while he was still in high school. Nicknamed “The Kentucky Kid,” he began riding professionally in the American Motorcycle Association circuit in 1999, and won his first championship race and AMA Rookie of the year honors. In 2002, Hayden became the youngest-ever AMA Superbike Champion at age 21. In 2006, he reached the pinnacle of the sport by finishing first in the MotoGP, the premier motorcycle racing world championship: an 18-race series visiting 13 countries and four continents. His MotoGP title ended a six-year string of wins by famous rider Valentino Rossi. Hayden continued to see success earning three MotoGP race wins and 28 trips to the podium. He was tragically killed in Italy in 2017 when struck by an automobile while training on a bicycle.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey — Natives of Artimus in Eastern Kentucky, the husband and wife team of Ken (University of Kentucky graduate) and Sarah Ramsey are among the Commonwealth’s most prolific Thoroughbred owners and breeders of all time. They have captured 28 titles as the leading owner at Churchill Downs and 20 titles at Keeneland and have earned leading owner titles at Kentucky Downs, Turfway Park, Gulfstream Park, and Saratoga. The Ramseys have won four Eclipse Awards as owners; two Eclipse Awards as breeders; four Breeders’ Cup World Championship races with Bobby’s Kitten (Turf Sprint, 2014), Furthest Land (Dirt Mile, 2009), Stephanie’s Kitten (Juvenile Fillies Turf, 2011) and Stephanie’s Kitten (Filly and Mark Turf, 2015), and the Dubai World Cup with Roses in May in 2005. They own and operate Ramsey Farm in Nicholasville, Ky.

The Louisville Sports Commission is a Louisville-based 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to create a legacy of economic and social vitality through sports. The LSC attracts and hosts sporting events and activities that have a positive economic impact on Louisville, enhance the area’s image as a premier sports destination, promote healthy lifestyles and improve the quality of life for community members of all ages.

From Louisville Sports Commission

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