7 Inductees To Enter State Sports Hall of Fame
In three trips to the Olympics as a wrestler and two as a coach, there were relatively few events that Wayne Baughman stopped to take in as a spectator.
But in 1976 in Montreal, he was there with his wife and children for one special moment. Baughman was about to leave the women's gymnastics arena when he decided to stop at the rail to watch young Romanian Nadia Comaneci perform on the uneven bars. What happened was historic: the first perfect 10 score in Olympic history.
Thirty-seven years later, Baughman and Comaneci shared a stage as inductees to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. The seven-member class was announced Tuesday. Baughman and Comaneci will be inducted Aug. 5, along with Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, Oklahoma City Thunder chairman Clay Bennett, undefeated Oklahoma quarterback Jimmy Harris, ex-Detroit Lions running back LeRoy "Ace" Gutowsky and former NFL lineman John Henry Ward.
"I was actually always leaving events early so I don't get caught in a crowd. ... We watched her compete and then we tried to go out and we heard the crowd going crazy. We went back, and that's when we found out she had done the first 10," Baughman recounted while seated on stage next to Comaneci.
Comaneci would go on to win three gold medals in Montreal and two more in Moscow at the 1980 Olympics. She would earn seven perfect 10 scores in her career.
"I wasn't prepared to receive a 10 because I was thinking of doing my routines the best that I could," Comaneci said. "You can't go higher than 10, but you can go much lower than 10. You still have to work to stay up to that level of performance. I knew that I had to keep myself as I could for as long a time as I can if I want to compete longer.
"It's all about motivation and a love of the sport."
It wasn't until later that Comaneci settled down in Oklahoma with her husband and fellow Olympic gold medalist Bart Conner. She has been living in the state since 1990, running a gymnastics academy and events the Bart & Nadia Sports & Health Festival.
"I call it home when I come here. Because I travel a lot, I say, 'I'm going home.' I call it home when I go back to Romania because that's my home. I have family there. I have family here.
"I was surprised to hear because I wasn't born in Oklahoma."
Baughman won a NCAA wrestling championship at Oklahoma and was a runner-up twice.
"It's really an honor," said Baughman, who now lives in Colorado Springs, Colo. "After walking around down there (in the museum gallery), I'm not too sure I deserve to be up here for sure."
Self led Kansas to the 2008 men's basketball national championship. He previously played at Oklahoma State and coached at Oral Roberts and Tulsa.
"I don't think I've ever been inducted into anything like that. It's a great honor," Self said in a statement. "I'm really proud of my state and respect all the people in different sports and different areas that have contributed to the rich sports history of Oklahoma."
Harris was 31-0 as the Sooners' quarterback, winning national championships in 1955 and 1956 during Oklahoma's Division I record streak of 47 straight victories under coach Bud Wilkinson. He then went on to play in the NFL as a defensive back.
Harris, Gutkowsky and Ward will be inducted posthumously.
"He was so very gifted," said Jay Wilkinson, Bud's son. "I don't think any player could ever run the option any better than Jimmy Harris. And, of course, he played defense just as well as he played offense."
Ward was an All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State and a first-round NFL draft pick in 1970. He played in two Super Bowls with the Minnesota Vikings.
"Anything that my dad ever taught me about athletics was that nothing was possible without the people that surround you,: your coaches and your players and everybody else that's a part of it," his son, John Henry Ward II, said. "I know if he was here, he'd be really quick to deflect any praise that was heaved on him and try to put it off on them.
"My whole life growing up, I always wondered why he never talked about playing pro football or wrestling in college and doing these things. Even when I asked him about it, he would always say: 'When you play sports, if you do it right, you don't have to talk about yourself. Other people will do it for you.'"
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