Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Suite 500, 1701 Bryant St., Denver, CO 80204, 720/258-3535
For Immediate Release, October 13, 2015
COLORADO SPORTS HALL OF FAME TO INDUCT SIX
Castilla, Hejduk & Simpson Headline Class of 2016
DENVER, COLO. - Led by professional standouts Vinny Castilla, Milan Hejduk and Ralph Simpson, the selection Committee of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame voted six individuals to be inducted at the 52nd annual banquet April 19, 2016 at the Denver Marriott City Center.
Joining Castilla of the Colorado Rockies, Hejduk of the Colorado Avalanche and Simpson of the Denver Nuggets as inductees at the April banquet are Rhonda Blanford-Green, Jim Danley and Jim Toupal as the Class of 2016 was selected here Tuesday (October 13, 2015). The selection group will pick the 2015 Athletes-of-the-Year at a January 2016 meeting as the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame recognizes collegiate, high school, Olympic/Pro athletes at the Denver Marriott City Center banquet.
Castilla was a member of the inaugural Rockies team that began play in Major League Baseball in 1993 and was a huge favorite among Colorado fans. The Mexican-born third baseman played 16 years in the major leagues with six different franchises as he competed in 1,854 games with a .276 career batting average, 320 home runs and 1,105 runs-batted-in.
A National League all-star in 1995 and 1998 with the Rockies, Castilla played in 1,098 games in nine seasons in Colorado (1993-1999, 2004, 2006) where he batted .294 with 239 home runs and 745 runs-batted-in. Castilla hit 40 home runs in both the 1996 and 1997 seasons, and 46 “dingers” in 1998 campaign.
Castilla had five 100-plus RBI campaigns with the Rockies and he led the National League in runs produced with 131 in 2004. He helped to lead the Rockies to their first-ever playoff appearance in 1995 and remains in the top 10 in many offensive categories for the Rockies. Castilla was the last active player from the Rockies' inaugural season in 1993 at the time of his retirement.
Hejduk was with the same organization since the Quebec Nordiques selected him in the fourth round (No. 87) of the 1994 National Hockey League draft. He broke in as a right wing player with the Colorado Avalanche in 1998 and was a member of the NHL all-rookie team for the 1998-1999 season.
During his 14-season career with the Avs, he ranked second in franchise history for games played (1,020), fourth in goals (375) and points (805), fifth in assists (430) and the all-time leader in franchise overtime goals (9). He is second in franchise game winning goals (59). A member of the 2001 Stanley Cup champions, Hejduk won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal scorer (50) for the 2002-2003 season.
Hejduk, who served one season (2011-2012) as the Avs captain, was selected to play in three National Hockey League All-Star Games (2000, 2001 and 2009). He was a member of three Czech Republic Olympic Ice Hockey teams that captured gold (Nagano 1998) and bronze (Torino 2006) medals, and placed seventh (Salt Lake City 2002).
Simpson played in both the American Basketball Association and National Basketball Association from 1970 to 1980. A 6-foot-6 guard/forward, Simpson signed with the ABA's Denver Rockets (later the Denver Nuggets) after two standout seasons at Michigan State. Prior to his college career, Simpson and Basketball Hall of Famer Spencer Haywood led Detroit’s Pershing High School to the Michigan state championship in 1967.
A five-time ABA All-Star, Simpson's finest pro season was 1971-1972 when he averaged 27.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. During six seasons in the ABA, Simpson averaged 20.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists a game while shooting 46 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free throw line.
After the ABA-NBA merger in 1976, Simpson was traded from the Nuggets to the Pistons where he played in Detroit for parts of two seasons before returning to Denver for the last park of the 1978-79 season. His final three NBA seasons were with the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Nets. Simpson scored 11,785 combined ABA/NBA points in his 10-season career. His 9,953 points were the most for the Nuggets during the team's time in the ABA.
Blanford-Green served 22 years as an educator, coach in Aurora Public Schools with 16 as an administrator at the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA). She served two years as the associate commissioner before becoming the executive director of the Nebraska School Activities Association in February of 2012. She is currently is the assistant executive director for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
An Aurora, Colo., native, Blanford-Green ran track at Nebraska where she was an undefeated “Conference” champion in the indoor and outdoor hurdles with a total of 18 conference titles. She was an 11-time All-American and former world record holder in the Shuttle Hurdles.
Following her collegiate career, Blanford-Green was a member and team captain of several U.S. Track & Field teams that competed internationally. She has been recognized in the University of Nebraska’s Top 25 Women in Sport and inducted into the Sportswoman of Colorado, the Colorado High School Hall of Fame, as well the Nebraska Black Sports Hall of Fame.
The baseball coach Eaton High School for 44 years, Danley teams won 11 Colorado prep baseball championships, a state record. His overall career record was stunning: 807-163-2 - the highest winning percentage of any baseball team in America for more than 25 years.
Danley has coached teams to 21 spring and summer championships since 1994 and have been ranked the best small school in the country and the top school program in Colorado. At least a dozen players from Eaton, a town of 4,600 in Colorado’s Weld County, have been drafted by Major League teams since 2000. Danley, who has served for decades with the same coaching staff, has been nationally recognized for his coaching abilities, including being named the National High School Baseball Coach of the Year in 2003.
Toupal finished his 32-year basketball coaching career with a record of a 678-333 basketball coaching mark to rank 23rd all-time among junior college coaches. He coached 12 All-Americans at Trinidad State Junior College and was named four times as the regional coach of the year. He led TSJC to the 1986 national tournament where the Trojans placed seventh.
While coaching TSJC, Toupal’s teams set a record for home court wins at 132-straight victories (1980-1990). Named in 1998 to the National Junior College basketball hall of fame, Toupal was a standout high school athlete at Trinidad before graduating in 1968 from Boston College.
In addition to basketball duties, Toupal coached football, baseball, golf and women’s volleyball at TSJC where he retired in May 2004. He also taught physical education and business at TSJC where he also served as athletic director. Toupal has served on the Trinidad City Council and was a school board member.
Tickets are $200 each and Sponsor tables start at $2,500. For additional ticket and table information, please telephone the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame (www.coloradosports.org, 720/258-3535). The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame & Museum is located at Gate 1 on the west side of Sports Authority Field at Mile High at 1701 Bryant Street in Denver.
Since its inception in 1965, the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame has inducted 240 individuals prior to Tuesday’s selection meeting. The first class of inductees featured Earl “Dutch” Clark, Jack Dempsey and former Supreme Court justice Byron “Whizzer” White. Chauncey Billups, John Dikeou, John Gagliardi, Roy Halladay, Becky Hammon and Warren Mitchell were inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame this past April.