'Legends of Gregg County' exhibit displays memorabilia, pays tribute to sports standouts
July 11, 2013 at 11 p.m.
Ben Spies' motorcycle sits in one corner. Across the room, a display recaptures Jackie and Buster Cupit's historic PGA wins.
Jerseys from Bobby Taylor, Josh Scobee and Trent Williams are hung on one wall, while Charlie Neal's Gold Glove award shines from its display case.
Beginning Saturday, these treasures and countless others will be on display in the "Legends of Gregg County" exhibit at the Gregg County Historical Museum as a tribute to the sports legends who have and continue to call East Texas home.
The idea was sparked a little over two years ago and the collection has continued to grow heading into Saturday's opening, according to committee chairman Tommy Eaker.
"We've had so many people from Gregg County make it as a professional athlete that we have plenty of stuff to display. It's really turned out great. It's just exploded and we've got a lot of stuff to show," Eaker said. "There's displays that go back to the '30s all the way up to right now, so we'll have everybody's attention and interest over the generations."
A program from a 1947 football showdown between Longview and Kilgore sits next to an autographed Green Bay helmet from White Oak's Max McGee, who caught the first touchdown reception in a Super Bowl.
"We realized that this was a great opportunity to brag on the legends from around here that have gone on to bigger and better things," committee member Mary Ramos said. "It started out small, but it's grown into a really big thing because of the large amount of people that have come from this area that we should be proud of."
Scobee's 1999 high school jersey is hung right next to the 1947 Lobo jersey of Eaker's father. The 1947 team gave up 13 points leading to a state semifinal appearance.
To Scobee, the amount of talent displayed on the walls of the exhibit room is not surprising.
"It makes me star struck a little bit to see the guys that have come before me and do great things in sports," the Jacksonville Jaguars kicker said as he toured the exhibit on Thursday. "It's crazy to see this many people that have come from East Texas go on to do something in professional sports, but it's not surprising.
"Growing up here, the level of competition that we all played against in every sport was so high it's not surprising to see so many go pro."
From football to horse racing, the exhibit features tales from every sport and will continue to grow as more and more items are loaned to be displayed.
"We'll continue to add to it over the coming weeks," Ramos said. "The exhibit will be constantly evolving and growing and we're encompassing every sport.
"We're really trying to offer it as an opportunity for people to come see and be proud of Gregg County."
The exhibit opens at noon on Saturday and will run Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Aug. 17. It is free to the public.
Eaker said he hopes to make the "Legends of East Texas" a yearly event.
With talent like Chris Davis, Chris Ivory, Scobee and the current East Texas talent pool, the walls of the museum will be far from bare.
"It's surreal to walk in here and see my jersey on the wall with some of these guys," Scobee said.
<em>(Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h)</em>