On September 21, the Moss Point Sports Hall of Fame inducted its inaugural class with a gala event at Pelican Landing. What a night it was, with 21 of the finest athletes from the River City having their moment before a crowd of almost 300.
A hard-working committee chaired by Jerry Alexander and Houston Cunningham brought the Hall of Fame and accompanying event to fruition. For a full listing of the Hall of Fame inductees, reference the Our Mississippi Home archives for the article dated July 25, 2023. In this column, I shall point out my observations from attending the event, which was my great pleasure.
Number one, I’m just happy for Moss Point and glad for our area that the city now has a Sports Hall of Fame. I have been co-chair of the selection committee for the Pascagoula Athletic Hall of Fame since its inception in 2015, and I have seen how popular and meaningful that entity has been for the community. I have always felt like Moss Point, too, could support that type of endeavor, and now the town will enjoy having one going forward.
Boy, that was a good group that went in up at PelicanLanding a couple of weeks ago. One of my favorite fellows ever, Robert Khayat, headlined the class. Robert was a multi-sport star at MPHS in the 50s, then went on to be an all-star in both football and baseball at Ole Miss. After that, he was a Pro Bowl kicker for the Washington Redskins.
The rest of Robert’s career was spent as one of the most influential and dedicated educators in America, culminated by his exceptional tenure as Chancellor of the University of Mississippi. The many of those of us who have had our lives touched by Robert Khayat are all the better for it.
Others in this list of Moss Point luminaries who stuck out to me included the following:
- Eddie Khayat, Jr. (Robert’s brother), who was once head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Litterial Green, the wonderfully talented basketball player who averaged 39 points a game for MPHS before making All-SEC at Georgia.
- Verlon Biggs, the Magnolia High behemoth who was a star for the New York Jets Super Bowl championship team.
- Bruce James, a contemporary of mine locally, who was an All Big-Eight footballer for the Tigers, and went on to be an All-American defensive end at Arkansas.
The biggest highlight for me, however, was sitting with my old college roommate, Dave Farragut, as we watched his father, Ken “Dynamite” Farragut, be inducted posthumously. Dynamite led Moss Point to an undefeated football season in the 40s, was captain of the Ole Miss Rebels in 1950, and was a Pro Bowler for the Philadelphia Eagles.
I got to know Mr.Farragut when Dave and I were roomies at Ole Miss, and he was an interesting guy, one of those larger than life characters who never met a stranger. He went on to be a very successful businessman in Philadelphia, but Moss Point/Pascagoula were always home to him.
Dave, in many ways, shares some of the same characteristics. He grew up in Philly, but when it was time to go to college, he headed to Oxford. After school, he went back to work for his dad’s roofing business, eventually becoming owner, and over the past decades has grown it into one of the largest industrial roofing companies in the entire Northeast.
Again, though, Pascagoula, where he was born, is still home. All three of his children are Ole Miss graduates, and he still gets back to the campus or the Coast whenever he can. His roots here are deep—obviously the Farraguts, and also his mother’s family, the Bristers, including first cousin Bruce, who I have played many tennis matches with and against and now share the stage with in our Pascagoula Senior Players productions.
Dave and I had a great visit while he was here. We toured Pascagoula and Moss Point to see some of his old stomping grounds from when he would visit relatives or come home with me from OM ( “Geez, these Edds burgers are still good”), and he connected with several family members for meaningful visits. The last night he was here, we gathered old college chums Roy Myers, Leslie Thompson, and Larry and Mary Ellen Calvert for a raucous night out at Mary Mahoney’s. Good stuff.
See, bringing folks together is a good example of the things a group like the Moss Point Sports Hall of Fame can do. I agree with my friend Robert Beatty, MPHS point guard and linebacker back in the day, that the MP Hall is off to a good start.
“For the inaugural event, I thought it was excellent,” said Rob. “We have planned a follow-up meeting next month to talk about what we did right and what we can improve on. The feedback from those who attended has been very positive.”
So, here’s to Robert, Boo Turner McIntyre, Mike Khayat, Ernie Denmark, Steve Renfroe, Jeff Gardner, Sharon Lanham, Billy Knight, J.B. Carter, Kathy Murray, Dorothy Shaw, Stacy Bodden Inlow, Bridgitte Ware, and my many other Moss Point friends for having this Hall of Fame up and running to highlight your town’s rich athletic history. Pascagoula and Moss Point may be big rivals on the fields and courts, but, at the end of the day, we’re all in this together as proud Jackson Countians.
*Richard Lucas may be reached at [email protected]