In April, four Bereans were inducted into the inaugural class of the Madison County Sports Hall of Fame. The Class of 2022 included Irvine Shanks ’58, Billy Evans Fd. ’50, Earle Combs Acad. 1912 and Don Richardson.
A Richmond, Ky., native, Shanks overcame the color barrier in Kentucky while playing basketball for Berea in the 1953-54 season. Shanks was the first African American to play for Berea College and the third to compete for a college team in Kentucky. The first two were from Bellarmine College: Ted Wade (1950-1951) and Freeman Franklin (1952-1953). Along with breaking the color barrier, Shanks was a member of the 1955 Berea team that upset Georgetown College to win the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship.
Combs was a centerfielder for the New York Yankees and batted leadoff for the famed Murderer’s Row lineup of the 1920s. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1970. During his 12 years in New York, he helped lead the Yankees to four American League pennants and three World Series. He was inducted into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame in 1963.
Evans, a Berea native, was a standout high school tennis and basketball player at Berea Foundation School. He captured two Kentucky state high school tennis championships. He went on to play both sports at the University of Kentucky from 1953 to 1955, playing basketball for Coach Adolph Rupp. Evans also played for the 1956 gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team. He was inducted into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame in 1988 and the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005. His No. 42 jersey hangs in the rafters of Rupp Arena.
Richardson is the winningest high school baseball coach in the history of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) with an 85.8 winning percentage. During his 35 years as coach at Madison Central High School, he compiled a record of 952-157 and guided the 1982 Indians team to a 40-0 record en route to the KHSAA Championship and the USA Today National Championship. Richardson also coached Madison Central’s basketball team for 15 years, compiling 350 wins and leading the Indians to their first KHSAA Sweet 16 appearance in 1987. He was inducted into the National Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1998, the KHSAA Hall of Fame in 2002, the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Eastern Kentucky University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019 for his pitching performance in the mid-1950s. After his high school coaching career, Richardson coached Berea College’s baseball team from 1997 to 1999.
The Madison County Sports Hall of Fame enshrines individuals who have excelled as athletes, built outstanding coaching careers, served in valuable administrative and community sports leadership or volunteer roles, been instrumental as members of the sports media or sports information director professions in keeping the community informed of sports achievements and recognizes special teams that have achieved significant honors and milestones.