High School Sports

Tates Creek legend Dom Fucci entering KHSAA Hall of Fame

Dom Fucci retired in May after 20 seasons as Tates Creek’s baseball coach. He led the Commodores to 11th Region titles in 2014 and 2015 and finished 463-219 at the school.
Dom Fucci retired in May after 20 seasons as Tates Creek’s baseball coach. He led the Commodores to 11th Region titles in 2014 and 2015 and finished 463-219 at the school. File photo

Dominic “Dom” Fucci, a former Mr. Basketball at Tates Creek who also won 542 games as a baseball coach at Lexington Catholic and his alma mater, is part of the KHSAA’s 2016 Hall of Fame class.

The newest 12-member class, announced Sunday, will be inducted March 19 at the Lexington Convention Center and recognized during the semifinals of the Sweet Sixteen.

Fucci retired in May after 20 seasons as Tates Creek’s second baseball coach in its history. He led the Commodores to 11th Region titles in 2014 and 2015 and finished 463-219 at the school, a winning percentage of 68.7.

“It’s been a great honor for me being at Tates Creek High School,” Fucci said during a broadcast of the announcement Sunday. “To be a student, then be a student-athlete, go away and come back and be able to coach at your alma mater. It’s been a special time at Owen County, Lexington Catholic and Tates Creek. I want to tell the selection committee thank you and it’s an honor to be inducted in with such great young men and women.”

The man known as “Mr. Commodore” averaged 19.6 points and 11.2 rebounds in 1975 to win Mr. Basketball honors. He played basketball for one season at Auburn before focusing only on baseball. He was part of two Southeastern Conference titles and an NCAA College World Series trip while in college. As a junior, Fucci batted .401 to lead the SEC and was selected as a third-team All-American by the The Sporting News.

Fucci was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the fifth round of the 1979 MLB Draft. He spent six years in the minor leagues before getting into coaching. Before coming to Tates Creek in 1996, Fucci was Owen County’s basketball coach for six years before moving to Lexington Catholic, where he was head baseball coach and an assistant basketball coach.

While at LexCath, Fucci guided the Knights to state baseball semifinal appearances in 1994 and 1995 and had a three-year record of 78-40.

Fucci told the Herald-Leader in May that he wouldn’t rule out a return to the coaching ranks but wanted to take at least a year off to watch his sons play college ball. Ryan Fucci is a senior at Wright State while Jordan Fucci is a freshman at Samford; both played under their father at Tates Creek.

445 The total number of honorees in the KHSAA Hall of Fame once the 2016 class is inducted.

Other members of the KHSAA Hall of Fame Class are:

Sam Ball, Henderson County: Ball was part of Colonels football teams that went 32-2-2 during his high school career. He went on to have an All-America career at the University of Kentucky and is one of only 16 UK players to have been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. He was picked 15th by the Baltimore Colts in 1966. He played in Super Bowl III and Super Bowl V with Baltimore, who won the second appearance 16-13 over the Dallas Cowboys.

Freddy Ballou, Model/Madison: Ballou rushed for more than 5,000 yards and scored 50 touchdowns over a three-year career with the Royal Purples. He helped Madison to conference titles in 1960 and 1961. The second year the Royal were runners-up in the 2A playoffs, losing 12-0 to Highlands in a game that Ballou missed with a back injury. He was All-State as a senior.

James (Pete) Bowles, M.D. (contributor): Bowles spent 33 years as a primary care physician in Madisonville and established himself as a leader in sports medicine in western Kentucky. He volunteered a great deal of his time serving more than 20 school districts in the western part of the state to help bring sports medicine services to rural high schools.

Bridgette Combs, Whitesburg: Combs finished with 2,672 career points at Whitesburg, which she led to three straight Sweet Sixteen appearances from 1983-1985. She was named Miss Basketball in 1985 after averaging 27 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 54 percent. She averaged 16 points and 16.5 rebounds as a sophomore in a 39-1 season for Whitesburg, the only loss coming against Warren Central in the state championship game.

Joseph Federspiel, DeSales: A two-way football star for the Colts who went onto play at UK and 10 years in the NFL. He became the first DeSales player to become a first-team All-State selection and was a two-time All-SEC player at UK. He was drafted in the fourth round if the 1972 NFL Draft by New Orleans before moving on to an officiating and volunteer coaching career which included four years at Henry Clay.

Clarence “Big House” Gaines, Paducah Lincoln: A basketball, football and track standout and class salutatorian who had a Hall of Fame coaching career. While the head basketball coach at Winston-Salem State, he went 114-26 and in 1967 led a team featuring Earl “The Pearl” Monroe to an NCAA Division II national championship, the first won by a historically black college. In 1982 he became the first black coach inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He finished with 828 wins after retiring in 1993, then the most ever by a Division II coach. He was part of the inaugural College Basketball Hall of Fame class in 2006.

Bert Greene, Olive Hill: Played at Morehead State after a five-year career with the Comets, during which he led them to three Sweet Sixteen appearances (1955, 1956 and 1959). He finished with 3,172 points in his career, the most in 16th Region history until Jonathan Ferguson eclipsed that total in 2009. Olive Hill, to which he would later return as a head coach, was 157-30 over Greene’s playing career.

Charles Hunter, Ralph Bunche: Led the Blue Hawks to their only Sweet Sixteen appearance in 1961. He averaged 26 points a game over his junior and senior seasons, and was second team All-State as a senior. Was part of four NCAA Tournament teams while at Oklahoma City University, where he finished with 1,319 career points and 584 rebounds before being drafted by the Boston Celtics in the sixth round of the 1966 NBA Draft.

Tenesha Blakey (Marshall), Valley: Won 10 state track and field titles while at Valley, including two Class 3A team trophies. She was named Kentucky’s Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year and Outstanding High School Female Athlete by the Kentucky Department of Education as a senior in 1994 and became the first girl to win four individual races at the state track meet that same year. Also led Valley’s basketball team in scoring for two straight seasons.

Marshall Patterson, Fort Campbell: Won 227 football games as head coach and guided the Falcons to four straight football championship appearances, winning three. He also guided the school to a state wrestling championship in 1971.

G.J. Smith, Hazel Green/Laurel County/South Laurel: “The Kentucky Long Rifle” led Hazel Green to the Sweet Sixteen in 1970 and 1971 and averaged 19.8 points and eight rebounds over his career. He was part of Adolph Rupp’s final recruiting class at UK and was a member of the Wildcats’ 1975 NCAA national runner-up team. As a baseball coach at Laurel County (1977-92) and South Laurel (1993-2002), Smith compiled 662 wins, six regional titles and four trips to the state tournament semifinals.

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps