NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Seating at one press box is named in honor of one sports writer, and another co-wrote a book with the late Fred Russell. The third man spent 66 years at his newspaper. The trio of Nick Gates, George Leonard and Dean Stone are the newest members of the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame and will be inducted July 13 during a ceremony at Cumberland University.
The late Nick Gates worked for the Knoxville News-Sentinel from 1971 until his death April 2, 2010. The press box at Smokies Park named the seating “Nick Gates Press Row’’ in his honor as an authority on Knoxville’s minor league baseball and hockey franchises. Gates also covered the University of Tennessee and high school athletics after turning down at least one SEC scholarship offer to walk on at UT to attend journalism school where he graduated in 1971.
Leonard, who died in 2001 at the age of 86, was assistant sports editor at the Nashville Banner for years and briefly was sports editor before retiring. Leonard covered both Vanderbilt and Tennessee and also covered the Nashville Vols for years. Leonard helped develop youth leagues in Nashville and co-wrote the book “Big Time Football” with Russell, a charter member of the TSWA Hall of Fame. Leonard also worked for The Associated Press, the San Diego Tribune and the Chattanooga Times.
Stone got his start in journalism as co-sports editor of the school paper at Everett High School in Blount County, where he played on the 1941 undefeated football team. Stone went to Maryville College before being activated from the Army Reserve to fight in Italy during World War II. After the war, he attended the University of Oklahoma, where he was assistant sports editor of the campus newspaper. He worked part-time for The Associated Press as a campus correspondent while working at The Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times during the summers. Stone became Sunday editor of the paper in February 1949 and became managing editor and sports editor of the paper five months later. Stone died in October at the age of 92.