When he got the call, all Mark McCarter could initially say was, “Wow,” which was ironic for a person who has had so much to say and had an illustrious career out of using words.
He eventually found some.
“That blows me away,” McCarter said. “It means so much to me.”
When the Alabama Sports Writers Association holds its 50th annual convention and awards banquet on June 12 in Birmingham, it will induct two legends into its prestigious Hall of Fame: Cecil Hurt and McCarter.
Hurt, who had worked for The Tuscaloosa News since 1980, died in November at the age of 62.
Although Hurt and McCarter will become the 21st and 22nd inductees, the ASWA had only elected one person for enshrinement since 2013, Tommy Hicks, formerly of the Mobile Press-Register.
To be elected, a finalist must receive more than 65 percent of the votes cast.
Hurt was a unanimous selection.
“I don’t know if that’s ever happened before,” ASWA president Christopher Walsh said.
McCarter is also due to receive the Mel Allen Media Award from the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in May. It honors those who made a lifetime contribution to sports through their work as a media member in the state.
Hurt received the Mel Allen Media Award in 2019. The only other recipients have been John Pruett (2014), George Smith (2014), Tom Roberts (2015), Ron Ingram (2017), Paul Finebaum (2020) and Rubin Grant (2021).
Originally hired as a correspondent, Hurt landed a full-time job with the Tuscaloosa News as a beat reporter covering Crimson Tide football, baseball and basketball in 1982. He was promoted to columnist in 1989 and added the sports editor title.
Hurt won over 100 professional writing awards, including two New York Times Chairman’s Awards, and was a part of the Tuscaloosa News’ team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 2011 tornado and its aftermath.
After 17 years at The Chattanooga News-Free Press, McCarter took over as the sports editor at The Anniston Star (1989-92). After five years in public relations, including two as PR rep for the Pennzoil NASCAR team and working with Atlanta’s 1992 Super Bowl effort, he returned to newspapers as sports columnist for The Huntsville Times in 1998.
He too has won scores of writing awards, including as a four-time winner of the Alabama Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.
McCarter was with The Times, and its AL.com affiliate, until August 2015. In October, the University of Alabama in Huntsville hired him to fill the newly created position of Assistant Athletic Director for External Operations.
McCarter is one of only three people to have served as ASWA president and earned all three of its highest honors, the Herby Kirby Award (story of the year), Bill Shelton Award (community service), and Hall of Fame. The other two are Hicks and Pruett.
Alabama Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame
1983: Benny Marshall (Birmingham News), Zipp Newman (Birmingham News), Bob Phllips (Birmingham Age-Herald and Post-Herald)
1986: Sam Adams (Montgomery Advertiser-Alabama Journal)
1989: Alf Van Hoose (Birmingham News), Naylor Stone (Birmingham Post-Herald)
1992: Ronald Weathers (Birmingham News)
1993: Bill Lumpkin (Birmingham Post-Herald)
1997: Bill Shelton (Cullman Times), Jimmy Smothers (Gadsden Times)
2000: Jimmy Bryan (Birmingham News), Bill Easterling (Huntsville Times)
2001: Clyde Bolton (Birmingham News)
2002: Jerry Bryan (Birmingham News)
2003: John Pruett (Huntsville Times)
2006: Wayne Martin (Birmingham News)
2008: Charles Hollis (Birmingham News)
2012: Kirk McNair (‘Bama Magazine)
2013: Ron Ingram (Birmingham News)
2018: Tommy Hicks (Mobile Press-Register)
2022: Cecil Hurt (Tuscaloosa News) and Mark McCarter (Huntsville Times)