A collection of community leaders from across the county, including current members, have voted on the next five inductees into the Polk County Sports Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be Tuesday, June 13, at The Lakeland Center. The hall of fame was started in 2000, but didn’t have a permanent home until it debuted last year at the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex in Auburndale. The Hall of Fame is open to the public Tuesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This year’s inductees are:
Desmond Clark – Football
The football standout might have played quarterback at Kathleen High, but was converted to a wide receiver when he attended Wake Forest University. Entering the draft in 1999, he was converted to tight end with the Denver Broncos. After three years with the Broncos, he spent a year with the Miami Dolphins and then seven years with the Chicago Bears. He has continued to be involved with the communities of both Polk County and Chicago through his 88 Wayz Youth Organization.
Robbie Davis – Golf
A Lakeland native and graduate of Lakeland High School, Davis was a two-time Academic All-American while at the University of Kentucky. After three years playing professionally, Davis became Florida Sothern’s women’s golf coach, where he has served for more than two decades. Besides winning four national championships, only two other Division II schools have more appearances at the finals than Florida Southern. He has also produced six individual national champions. Under Davis’ guidance, Golf Digest has named Florida Southern as one of the top college golf programs in the country, regardless of NCAA classification.
Charlie Manuel – Baseball
A resident of Winter Haven, Charlie Manuel isn’t retired – he’s still a senior advisor for the Philadelphia Phillies. While he played in the United States with both the Twins and Dodgers, his career blossomed in Japan, where he won the Pacific League MVP Award in 1979. He was a scout and minor league coach and manager in the Twins and Indians’ organizations before winning the World Series as a manager for the Phillies in 2008.
Andy McGaffigan – Baseball
A member of the 2003 Florida Southern Hall of Fame, Andy McGaffigan was originally drafted out of high school but instead chose first community college, then Florida Southern. He compiled a career record of 16-2 with a 2.79 ERA while there and helped lead the team to the NCAA Division II Championship in 1978. Drafted by the Yankees, McGaffigan played for five different teams over an 11 year span, finishing with more than 350 appearances and 38 wins.
Frank Decker – Contributor
It might sound trite, but Joker Marchant Stadium was, literally, the House that Frank Built.
Frank Decker might have passed away in 2011, but his influence on Polk County sports lives on. Active in the community, his construction company built Joker Marchant Stadium and Tigertown complex in 1966. He went on to own the Lakeland Tigers from 1972 to 1992 and is remembered for touching the lives of not only the players – Mark Fidrych lived with him when he played in Lakeland – but managers as well. Besides owning the Lakeland Tigers, he ran his own construction firm and was a Marine Corps World War II Pacific Theater veteran.
An initiative of the Polk County Board of County Commissioners, Central Florida’s Polk County Sports Marketing is responsible for recruiting sporting events to Polk County and marketing the county as a venue for competitive sporting events and recreational sports such as golf, tennis, cycling and water skiing/boating. During the past year, 225 PCTSM events generated more than $130 million in economic impact for Polk County. Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing is Florida’s only sports commission to be awarded both the coveted “Sports Commission of the Year” award by the Florida Sports Foundation.
Communications Specialist, Central Florida’s Polk County Sports Marketing
2701 Lake Myrtle Park Road | Auburndale, Florida 33823
Direct: 863-551-4709 | Fax: 863-551-4740 | firstname.lastname@example.org