June 25, 2016
NATCHITOCHES – Four people whose roots in sports are wide and varied will be inducted in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame here Saturday night at the Natchitoches Events Center.
The induction ceremony will be the 57th to be held for the Hall of Fame, which opened its museum on Front Street in Natchitoches in 2013.
Hawthorne and Tompkins will receive the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism from the presenting Louisiana Sports Writers Association which also includes membership in the Hall of Fame. Dr. Bailes, whose work on concussion in pro athletics was portrayed in the movie “Concussion” when he was portrayed by actor Alec Baldwin, received the Dave Dixon Louisiana Leadership Award. Swanson, who passed away in 1982, was elected in the Old-Timers athletic category.
For Hawthorne, the trip back to Natchitoches is a bit of a homecoming as the native of Anacoco went to school at Northwestern State in Natchitoches as did several of his family members. This is where the late Norm Fletcher mentored Jim as a student and allowed him to broadcast and assist with Demon games on the local radio station.
“This is really very emotional for me,” Hawthorne said. “This is where it started.”
Tompkins, who graduated from LSU, had a 43 year sports writing career, including 38 with the Town Talk.
“Bob is a wordsmith who approaches everything he writes with great passions and that is apparent to the reader,” said Hall of Fame Chairman Doug Ireland, who once worked for Tompkins at the Town Talk.
Putting a medical doctor into the hall isn’t unprecedented, but the work Dr. Bailes has done is helping make the game of football safer and making people smarter about the dangers of concussion injuries. It’s a long way from his football days at Natchitoches Academy.
“I love football,” Dr. Bailes said. “It was never about trying to end football or diminish football. IT was about brining what we knew was the truth and making reforms to keep football players safe.”
Swanson played in the first game event at Tiger Stadium and he is well known during his time as assistant to Bernie Moore in the 1930s and 1940s that he drove with another assistant to Austin to get the future Hall of Fame quarterback Y. A. Tittle to come to LSU. Swanson also won a Southeastern Conference championship as a baseball coach and also coach baseball at LSU during his time in Baton Rouge.
Swanson’s son Art will accept his award for him.
In all 11 people will be inducted to conclude a weekend of activities that included a golf tournament in Alexandria on Friday, and back in Natchitoches a tailgate party and fireworks display over the Cane River. Saturday’s induction ceremony at the Events Center is sold out.
Highlights of the induction ceremony will be shown on Cox Sports TV beginning on July 12 at 7 p.m.