Alabama Sports Officials Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 To Induct 14 Outstanding Contest Official
Below is the Class of 2021:
Tony Baggiano – Class of 2021
Tony Baggiano officiated at all levels of football and basketball for the Alabama High School Athletic association. His work included more than 35 games over 15 years in the state basketball tournament, including four championship games. He worked numerous high school football games, including state playoffs. At the college level, he officiated the finals of the Alabama Junior College Conference tournament, the Southern States Conference tournament, and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics District 27.
As an administrator, he assigned AHSAA state tournament officials for 13 years. As an AHSAA clinician, he produced, instructed, and tested basketball and football officials around the state at more than150 clinics for 16 years. He developed a critique form which he filled out and gave officials after state tournament games. He served as president and held other positions in the Central Alabama Basketball Officials Association and the Central Alabama Football Officials Association.
He has been inducted into the AHSAA Hall of Fame, the USA Water Ski and Wake Board Foundation Hall of Fame, and the Alabama Water Ski Hall of Fame. He received the Award of Distinction and the Award of Merit from water ski organizations. Baggiano’s dedication to high school sports was noted by former AHSAA Executive Director Herman “Bubba” Scott. He said: “We had the utmost confidence in Tony’s ability, thus putting him in what we considered to be some of the toughest playoff games. He always fulfilled and exceeded our expectations. He is the only official that I have ever known who would fly back from Washington, D.C. in order to work the high school assignment he had accepted for that night.”
Jack Burton – Class of 2021
Jack Burton established the first wrestling official’s association recognized by the Alabama High School Athletic Association. That was the Birmingham Wrestling Officials Association that started with just three members in 1967. More than 30 officials were involved by the time he ended his officiating career in 1997. Between 1967 and 1997 he recruited and mentored hundreds of young men as wrestling officials. One of those recruits was Jeff Saxon, who said: “When I began officiating, I worked hard to emulate Coach Burton as an official because of his ability, command on the mat, and the respect and admiration that he garnered from coaches, participants, and fans.”
After retiring from officiating, he remained active in his support of wrestling. He served as an assistant coach and head coach at Erwin High School and assistant coach at Hewitt-Trussville High School. He won the Class 5A State Championship at Erwin in 1999. During his 32-year career, he called more than 40 State Sectional Tournaments and 32 high school State Tournaments and was selected as Official of the Year numerous times. In 1997 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the AHSAA for his many years of service and leadership in wrestling officiating. Burton also officiated wrestling for the Southeastern Conference from 1973-79. Administrative positions held include Assignor and Association Officer for the Birmingham Wrestling Officials Association. In 2017 he was inducted into the Alabama Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Bobby Cook – Class of 2021
Bobby Cook was a high school and collegiate official for more than four decades, working numerous contests in basketball, football, baseball, and softball. He began officiating basketball in 1962 at Fort Rucker while undergoing Alabama National Guard basic training. From there he added football, baseball, and softball to his repertoire, serving the Alabama High School Athletic Association for more than 40 years. He began officiating football in the 1970s and was instrumental in organizing a local official’s group in Chilton County. He officiated women’s basketball games for the Alabama Junior College Conference. Administrative positions held included Official, Assignor, Instructor, Association Officer, Evaluator, Camp Instructor, and Program Coordinator. As Evaluator, he traveled around the state to help officials excel and reach their potential. He was involved in training many young officials starting their careers. He served as North Central District director in basketball for eight years and supervised officials for numerous regional tournaments. He was a volunteer official for the annual Alabama Lions Club East-West Baseball Games for 15 years and volunteered on the “chain gang’” at Chilton County High School football games. He also spent many Saturday mornings volunteering as an official for the Royal Ambassador Organization youth basketball games. A long civic and business leader in Clanton, Cook was serving as a city council member when the city’s beloved, longtime mayor, Billy Joe Driver, died from the coronavirus. Cook was sworn in as mayor to complete Driver’s term.
Greg England – Class of 2021
Greg England’s 48-year officiating career included major contributions at both the high school and college levels. He joined the Birmingham Basketball Officials Association in 1970 and over the next 32 years held numerous positions. He was on the Board of Directors for 32 years and served as president for 10 years. When he stepped down as president in 2006, the association voted to change the name of the President’s Award to the Greg England President’s Award. It is given annually to the official who demonstrates outstanding character and moral values. For the Alabama High School Athletic Association, he worked the Regional basketball tournament for 10 years and the State Tournament for 25 years. He officiated two Alabama Mississippi Basketball All-Star games and is an observer for the AHSAA North Central District. He was one of the original AHSAA State Basketball Camp instructors, a position he held for 12 years. He was a regional tournament assistant director for 10 years.
Former BBOA President Bobby Stewart said of England’s dedication to officiating: “At one time, three-person crews were optional...The school only had to pay for two. Greg would always take a younger official and get them the experience they needed to advance and pay them out of his own pocket.” He was a basketball official for 25 years with the Gulf South Conference, Southern States Conference, and Alabama Junior College Conference. In 2000 he was named Official of the Year for Alabama by the National Federation Officials Association. That same year he was named North Central District Official of the Year. He was inducted into the AHSSAA Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
Lowell Frobish – Class of 2021
Lowell Frobish’s officiating contributions to soccer cover more than three decades. He officiated Alabama High School Athletic Association games from 1990-2004. He officiated college soccer for five years and was a college assessor for five years. He officiated United States Soccer Federation from 1985-2003 and served as a USSF assessor for 15 years and instructor for 22 years. He was State Director of Assessment for eight years and Southeast District Director for 10 years. As Director of Assessment, he wrote test registration questions for officials. Hall of Fame official Joe Manjone said, “Lowell’s greatest contribution to the improvement of soccer officiating in Alabama was through his work as an assessor and trainer of soccer officials.” Another colleague said that “anyone who officiated a game with him also learned good officiating techniques and positioning.”
He received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Clemson, SC YMCA for contributions to the soccer program. He received a Certificate of Appreciation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture or service and contributions to the Nutrition Task Force and one from the Alabama Farmers Federation. He was named Director Emeritus of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station by Auburn University. He served on two scientific tours to the USSR to present and discuss animal nutrition problems. He is a member of the American Society of Animal Science and the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association.
Don Hudson – Class of 2021
Don Hudson’s 40-year career in officiating included work at both the high school and college levels. For the Alabama High School Athletic Association, he called games in basketball, football, baseball, and softball. He called state championship contests in football, basketball, and baseball. He also served in administrative positions in all four sports. Coach Chucky Miller, recalling his games officiated by Hudson, said: “Don Hudson was engaged in all games he officiated with me in his character, hustle, knowledge, command of the game, and a willingness to make the game better for all persons involved.”
On the collegiate level, he has officiated women’s basketball, working the Division I and Division II NCAA tournaments. He officiated the finals of the women’s NCAA Division I National Invitational Tournament finals. He has also worked with many conferences, including the Southeastern Conference. He was an instructor in Gulf South Conference camps.
Administrative positions held include Assignor, Instructor, Association Officer, and District Director. He currently serves as basketball East Central District director. One colleague said, “Throughout Don’s career he has constantly recruited and taught young men and women on how to officiate and how to become a better official.” He is past president of the Masters Games of Alabama and has participated in the Alabama Senior Olympics. He is a member of the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association and the Alabama Association of Healthy, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.
Sidney James – Class of 2021
In his 42-year career, Sidney James officiated high school baseball, basketball, and football. He officiated baseball and basketball at the collegiate level. In the Alabama High School Athletic Association, he has served in numerous administrative roles as well as being a basketball instructor. He has worked numerous state championship games in basketball and football as well as postseason assignments in baseball and basketball.
At the collegiate level, he officiated for the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Gulf South Conference, Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Alabama Junior College Conference, and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. He was an official for both SWAC’s men’s and women’s state basketball tournaments for 30 years. He was an NCAA women’s tournament official three times.
As an administrator, he has served as Assignor, Instructor, Association Officer, and Program Coordinator. A graduate of Jefferson Davis High School, James was an All-State basketball player at Patrick Henry Junior College. He was a member of the first basketball team at Auburn University-Montgomery, earning all-conference and Most Valuable Player honors. He received the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award in 2020 and in 2016 was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame.
Rhonda Kirk – Class of 2021
Rhonda Kirk’s 20-year career included work with the Alabama High School Athletic Association in football, softball, and basketball. She was a tournament director in softball, basketball, and volleyball for several years. She was among the first female football officials in Alabama and is one of only two to work a state championship football game. She worked numerous high school football playoff games, including the Class 3A game in the 2007 Super Six Football Championship. After calling her last playoff game in 2010, she was presented with a football signed by coaches to commemorate the occasion. Her commitment to softball included hosting a round-robin tournament prior to the season to make sure new officials, coaches, and players were aware of any changes to the high school rules.
She was the Southeast Alabama District Umpire of the Year in high school softball for 2001 and 2004. She was state Umpire of the Year in 2004. She was Southeast Alabama Football District Official of the Year in 2009. Administrative positions held include Instructor, Association Officer, District Director, and Tournament Director. She headed the AHSAA Regional basketball tournament in Dothan for six years. She also directed the Downtown Dothan Hoops Classic Basketball Tournament and the Dothan Diamond Classic Softball Tournament. The Diamond Classic helps fund local high school softball programs. She was a volunteer and involved in finding officials for both the Miracle League and the Special Olympic state basketball tournament and track meet. Rhonda’s Softball Family Golf Tournament raises college scholarship funds for needy local students.
Eddie Miller – Class of 2021
Eddie Miller’s 40-year career as an official included work at the high school, college, and professional sports levels. His career began calling intramural games at Walker College Jasper. From there he went on to the Alabama High School Athletic Association where he worked four state tournaments, including two championship games. His college work spanned 30 years and include 21 men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments including two Final Four games, two National Invitational Tournaments, two NCAA Division II Final Fours, and numerous conference tournaments. He worked tournament championship games for the SEC, Big 12, Southwest Conference, Metro Conference, Conference USA, Ohio Valley Conference, Gulf South Conference, and Alabama Junior College Conference. He officiated in 16 different college conferences, including 21 years in the Southeastern Conference.
After retiring from active officiating in 2008, he served four years an observer with the SEC to evaluate, train and mentor the next generation of officials.
He also worked for two years in the professional American Basketball League.
He received a Gulf south Conference Basketball Officials Association Service Award in 1985. He was inducted into the Walker County Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
Sue Donohoe, Director of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball, said of Miller’s work: “Your role as an official during the championship competition was significant to the success of the 2000 Women’s Basketball Championship. By being selected to work the NCAA Women’s Basketball Champions, you are considered one of the top basketball officials in the country, and we feel fortunate to have such a quality individual’s service as officials for the championship competition.”
Gordon Pettus – Class of 2021
Gordon Pettus was a high school and collegiate official for more than 30 years. After playing football at the University of Alabama, he began a career as a high school football coach, then entered the sporting goods business. But he found a higher calling in officiating. After serving the Alabama High School Athletic Association for a number of years, he ventured into the collegiate ranks. From 1956-80 he was a Southeastern Conference football official. He had numerous bowl game assignments throughout his career. In 1980 he left the field and moved into the office as Supervisor of SEC Officials. Former official Dick Burleson said of Pettus: “He was not only a great college player but also an outstanding official and SEC supervisor. Gordon was a leader in his high school association before being a member of the SEC, where he was constantly ranked the number one back judge for many years. He was recognized by everyone, especially the SEC coaches, as the very best!
“Gordon was a mentor to many aspiring officials, including me. He was very instrumental in my selection and career in the SEC. He was an excellent supervisor of SEC officials.” Hall of Famer Ronnie Baynes said Pettus devoted many hours to recruiting other former athletes to become officials. Some of them had successful careers not only in the SEC but also in the National Football League. “As a result of his outstanding leadership, Gordon was selected to become Supervisor of Officials. He held this position for many years before his retirement. It was during this tenure of leadership that the SEC officials were recognized as the best in college football,” said Baynes.
Johnny Robertson – Class of 2021
Johnny Robertson has given half a century of officiating dedication to the Alabama High School Athletic Association. Beginning in 1971 as a basketball official, he was on the court until 1999 when he went into administration. From 1999 through 2020 he was a basketball official District Director. He has served as a rules clinician, state rules interpreter, and state camp director. He called 17 AHSAA state basketball finals. He was an official with Gulf South Conference and the Alabama Junior College Conference. He was a Southern states official for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Although basketball was his specialty, he also officiated many years of football and baseball and worked the sideline for his local soccer association.
Administrative positions he has held include Assignor, Instructor, Association Officer, District Director, and Rules Interpreter. He was awarded a Lifetime Membership in the Mid-State Officials Association in 1987. He received the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award in 2008. He was inducted into the AHSAA Hall of Fame in 2019. He was selected as the National Federation of High School Association’s National Distinguished Contributor in 2020.
Describing Robertson as a mentor, an officiating colleague wrote: “He is dedicated to the purpose of making every official a better official. He is conscientious and has worked tirelessly to make officiating in the state the very best.”
Steve Shaw – Class of 2021
Steve Shaw’s 40-year career has included work in the high school and college arenas as well as administrative duties in officiating.
After his graduation from the University of Alabama, Shaw officiated for 14 years with the Birmingham Football Officials Association. He began his college officiating career in the Gulf South Conference, working for six years and then the Southeastern Conference for 15 years. He was selected for 14 postseason assignments. They included eight bowl games, four Southeastern Conference championship games, two National Championship games. He was a leader in the Sunbelt Conference’s officiating program, also. He served as president of the SEC Football Officials Association and as Coordinator of SEC Football Officials. He currently is the NCAA Coordinator of Football Officials.
In 2020 he was selected by the National Association of Sports Officials as the recipient of the Mel Narol Medallion. NASO founder Barry Mano said the award “is presented to someone who has served NASO’s mission on behalf of its members. Steve has done that for more than a decade. With everything he has on his plate, for him to find time to help NASO grow, sustain itself, and then advocate on behalf of all who serve as officials have been remarkable.”
He has chaired the CCA National Mechanics Manual Committee since 2011. He introduced the first official-to-official communication system in college football. He revamped the SEC and Sun Belt grading process with them being among the first officials’ associations to join NASO as a group.
Don Stanford – Class of 2021
Don Stanford’s officiating career in high school and college sports spanned 50 years. It included basketball, softball, football, track, and volleyball. He officiated 50 Alabama High School Athletic Association state finals in basketball and officiated state finals in football. He officiated Alabama All-Star basketball games and the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game. He was an Alabama junior college official for 30 years, working the state tournament. He worked the National Junior College Tournament finals twice. He officiated regular season, quarterfinals, and finals games in the Gulf South Conference for 25 years. He officiated American Softball Association games for 35 years and Dixie Youth Baseball for 12 years. As an administrator, he served as an Instructor, Assigning Secretary, official observer, and as a district, regional, and state director of officials. He was booking agent for the Decatur Officials Association for 25 years. He was the basketball official’s director/coordinator for the girl's state high school tournament for 10 years. He handled state testing for basketball and football for 20 years and worked in the state basketball camp for 10 years. He played basketball for four years at Athens State University. He coached basketball and baseball at Cotaco High School, taking two teams to the state finals, and was inducted into the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame.