It will be a blockbuster Class of 2017 for the Florida Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony — and a home game for three of the four incoming members.
The Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra Beach will host the ceremony on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. Enshrined will be the University of Florida’s Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow of Jacksonville, Bolles graduate and Atlanta Braves star Chipper Jones, former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and former Florida State, Tampa Bay Bucs and Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn.
A Hall of Fame spokesman said Jones, Finchem and Dunn have already committed to appear and that Tebow’s management team is trying to clear his schedule.
Also going into the Hall of a posthumous basis is LPGA golfer Colleen Walker, who was born in Jacksonville, raised in West Palm Beach and played college golf at Florida State before a pro career that saw her win nine tournaments and one major championship. She died in 2012 at the age of 56.
In addition, the 1967 Coral Gables High School football team, declared the state’s “Team of the Century” by the Florida High School Athletic Association, will be honored on the 50th anniversary of its state and national championship run.
“Without question, this is one of the most talented, eclectic and accomplished classes in Florida Sports Hall of Fame history,” Hall of Fame president Barry Smith said in a statement. “The contributions these individuals have made within their chosen sport, to their communities, the nation and indeed on a worldwide stage, demand recognition and we are honored to welcome them as the newest members of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.”
Tebow, who passed for a state record 9,940 yards and 95 touchdowns at Nease, won the 2007 Heisman Trophy and was a member of two national championship teams for the Gators. He threw for 9,286 yards and 88 touchdowns, and ran for 2,947 yards and 57 touchdowns during his college career.
After attempting to make it in the NFL as a quarterback with four teams, Tebow currently is pursuing a baseball career in the New York Mets chain. He hit .226 with eight home runs and 52 RBI in 126 games with two minor league teams this season.
Jones batted .303 in 19 seasons with the Braves, with 2,726 hits, 468 home runs and 1,623 runs batted in. He was the National League MVP in 1999 and an eight-time all-star.
Dunn ran for 3,953 yards and 37 touchdowns in four years with the Seminoles, and was a key player as a freshman on Bobby Bowden’s first national championship team in 1993. He went on to play in the NFL for 12 seasons, rushing for 10,967 yards and 49 TDs. He have five 1,000-yard seasons and made three Pro Bowls.
Finchem was the Tour commissioner from 1994-2015 and was the architect for such initiatives as the World Golf Championships, the FedEx Cup and the growth of the Web.com Tour. He also oversaw major changes to the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course and continued growth of The Players Championship.
All four inductees also been active in charity. Under Finchem, the Tour passed $1 billion, then $2 billion in charitable giving and he helped launch The First Tee initiative to make golf affordable and accessible to children in urban and rural settings. Dunn earned the Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his efforts that included building homes for single mothers.
Tebow’s foundation has raised millions for special needs children and he has worked for charities in the Philippines, where he was born to Bob and Pam Tebow when they were working in that country as missionaries.
Jones has raised money for the Miracle league, for children with disabilities.
A portion of the event proceeds will go to hurricane and flood relief in Florida. For sponsorship and ticket information, visit FlaSportsHOF.org/sponsorships.
Click here to read the Florida Times-Union story.
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