The New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame was established to immortalize the achievements and contributions of athletes, coaches, teams, and other remarkable individuals in the realm of sports in our state. Our hall of fame serves as a testament to what can be accomplished with hard work, dedication, and a love for the game. It’s more than just a showcase; it’s an inspiration for aspiring athletes and fans alike.
We are committed to recognizing those who have brought fame and honor to New Mexico through their athletic prowess or contributions to sports. Our Board rigorously selects candidates based on their past achievements, impact on sports in New Mexico, and alignment with our mission to uplift communities through sports.
If you’re passionate about sports and the impact it has on lives and communities, we encourage you to support our mission. Your backing enables us to continue this vital work of recognition and community support. Kindly consider donating to help us continue making a difference in the world of sports and beyond.
The Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce elected the first board of directors. Four permanent board members, Dr. Roy Goddard, William Brannin, executive vice president of Metro 70’s, George Baldwin, Managing Editor of the Albuquerque Tribune, and Dr. Ray Esquibel were selected to the initial board. Mr. Brannin was the first Board President.
Elected Joseph Roehl and Max Mansur to three-year terms. Elected to two-year terms were Marshall Wylie and Oscar Mahlon Love. JD Kailer and S.Y. Jackson were elected to one-year terms. Other board members were Robert Matteucci, President of the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and Dr. Richard Thompson, Chairman of the Chamber’s Sports Committee.
The first Induction Banquet was scheduled for October 30, 1973, at the Albuquerque Convention Center. The inductees had to “perform their national, international or intersectional feats at least five years prior to 1973”. The Induction Banquet had to be rescheduled. The first Induction Banquet was held March 5, 1974, with nearly one thousand attendees.
A specific area on the east side hallway of the new Albuquerque Convention Center was set aside to display the Hall of Fame portraits.
The first inductees were Roy Johnson, all sports coach and athletic director at the University of New Mexico; Bobby Unser, auto racing driver who won the 1968 Indy 500; and F.M. “Tony” Wilson, long-time coach at Albuquerque High School and Albuquerque Public School’s athletic director.
The Sports Hall of Fame was established “to honor those who have brought fame and honor … or who have made outstanding athletic contributions to the City of Albuquerque… and who by their character and respectability will serve as an inspiration and as an example to the highest traditions of the American people.
The Sports Hall of Fame continues to immortalize the achievements and contributions of athletes, coaches, teams, and other remarkable individuals in the realm of sports in our state. Our hall of fame serves as a testament to what can be accomplished with hard work, dedication, and a love for the game. It is more than just a showcase; it is an inspiration for aspiring athletes and fans alike.
The Albuquerque Sports Hall of Fame would continue to induct sports greats from the Albuquerque area until 2005. The By-Laws dictated that a maximum of four individuals could be inducted each year.
In 2005, Governor Bill Richardson asked the Board to expand to the entire state. The Sports Hall of Fame under the leadership of Russell Goff, president, became the Albuquerque/New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame. The By-Laws were changed to state that at least one inductee must be from outside the Albuquerque area. The Class of 2005 included legendary basketball coaches, Hobbs High School’s Ralph Tasker, and New Mexico State University’s Lou Henson.
In 2012, under President Kenny Barreras’ leadership, the Sports Hall of Fame was officially named the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame.
In 2014, under the leadership of President Gale Lovato, the Board updated By-Laws with three major changes. First the board moved to the Annual Board Meeting to May to make it an annual process to select the inductees and annual award winners. Secondly, they voted to have a minimum number of inductees greater than four. The Class of 2014 had seven inductees. The Class of 2015 had the largest class with eight inductees. Thirdly, the Board approved September’s Public Voting to select a candidate for the Final Pool, but the winner was not guaranteed induction. The prior year, the Board received only two nominations from the public.
The 2014 Public Voting generated forty-nine new candidates. Once a candidate on the online process, then they were a candidate for life or until inducted. Over six thousand people voted online and/or Facebook. The Public Voting continued until 2019.
In August of 2015, the display of Hall of Fame portraits was moved to the hallway near the Convention Center’s La Sala and the DoubleTree Hotel. Stan Whitaker, president from 2010-2012 was instrumental in coordinating a new location for our Hall of Famers.
In 2016, Marty Saiz, the Board President introduced the Induction Celebration Weekend to include a Welcome Dinner, Charity Golf Classic, and the Induction Banquet.
Since 2016, the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame and its board members have given over $100,000 in scholarships and $120,000 to ALS – Lou Gehrig’s Disease – New Mexico on behalf of our former Board President, Gene Pino. Gene has been battling ALS since 2011. He still participates in all of the NMSHOF events.
The New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame understands sports are just one tool that is used in the development of New Mexico’s youth, and the Hall is committed to highlighting the importance of education for student-athletes throughout the State.
Through our scholarship program the Hall of Fame puts the spotlight on the future by supporting today’s student-athletes. Your support helps the Hall of Fame increase its commitment to New Mexico’s next generation of leaders.
In 2023, the Board created the Theo Barela Scholarship. For 2024, the Board will be supporting the scholarship fund in honor of Coach Mike Brown, a 2018 inductee. The Oscar “Mahlon” Love Scholarship will be a new scholarship will be given to a deserving student-athlete. Mahlon is a lifetime board member and an original board member in 1973.
Only twice, 1982 and 2020 in the history of the Sports Hall of Fame that there were no individuals inducted. In 1982, the Board could not get a nominee to the 75% threshold and thus, decided to honor annual award winners. In 2020, the Board decided to postpone the induction of the Class of 2019 because of Covid 19. The Induction Banquet was not held until August 2021.
The mission of the NM Sports Hall of Fame is three-fold.