Three men who managed to incite strong passions with their writing are the 2013 inductees into the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame. John Adams of the Knoxville News Sentinel, Joe Biddle of the Nashville Banner and The Tennessean and the late Harold Harris of the Knoxville News Sentinel are the new members of the TSWA Hall of Fame, and they will be inducted July 11-12 at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn.
Harris, who was a sportswriter for 45 years at the News Sentinel, drew death threats from Texans after he criticized Baylor’s Larry Hickman for kicking a UT guard in the face during the 1957 Cotton Bowl. The Knoxville native played center at Knoxville High and Tennessee Wesleyan before he went to work as a sportswriter, and he covered Tennessee football and basketball in the 1940s and 1960s, including the Vols’ 6-0 victory over Georgia Tech in 1956. His regular column was called “Sports Static.’’ Alabama invited Harris to be the Tide’s guest for the 1946 Rose Bowl that Alabama won 34-14, and Harris shared a room with Tide coach Frank Thomas. He also covered small area college athletics from Carson-Newman and Maryville to Tennessee Wesleyan and Lincoln Memorial. He also covered the Knoxville Smokies and bowling. Harris, whose brother Ed Harris was inducted into the TSWA Hall of Fame in 2009, was presented the Distinguished Service Award by the East Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame in 1981, and he was inducted to the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. Harris died in 1992 at the age of 78.
Adams, a native of Clinton, La., was hired as editor of his hometown paper while still at LSU. He graduated and joined the Army working on a post newspaper at Fort Riley, Kan. He resumed his career at Port Llavaca, Texas, covering the local PL Sandcrabs. He then went on to Victoria Texas, before also working at the Jackson Clarion Ledger and in Shreveport and Baton Rouge. Adams even covered the Steelers in Pittsburgh for a year before moving to Jacksonville as columnist for the afternoon paper. Adams finally arrived at the News Sentinel in 1987. Adams has covered many Super Bowls, Masters, heavyweight championship bouts, Kentucky Derbies, Final Fours and World Series along with covering the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Joe Biddle, a native of Johnson City, attended East Tennessee State, graduating in 1971. Biddle worked for the Johnson City Press-Chronicle and Daytona Beach News Journal before he returned to Tennessee in 1979 first working for the Nashville Banner before moving to The Tennessean in 1998 after the Banner folded.
Biddle was a four-time Tennessee Sports Writer of the Year by the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters.
He has been a Harris Poll voter in Tennessee since its inception and is state chairman for Heisman Trophy voting. Biddle also worked on a weekly radio show and now writes a column on Tennessee sports for WKRN-TV. He also served in Vietnam in the Air Force.
Biddle has covered 25 Super Bowls and Masters, approximately 20 Final Fours, 20-plus Sugar Bowls and a number of national championship games, as well as two Olympic Games (1984 and 1996), Two Ryder Cups, almost a dozen Kentucky Derbys, the World Series and the Daytona 500.
Biddle also covered Austin Peay legend James Fly Williams when the Govs played ETSU during Williams’ freshman season.
(E-mail Stan Crawley at email@example.com)