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Gilliland Historical Resource Center presents Shelbyville Sports History at the Library!

Published on February 8, 2023.

The Shelbyville-Bedford County Public Library is honored to present this display created by the Gilliland Historical Resource Center as part of Shelbyville’s local history throughout the month of February.

The display focuses on both famous athletes from Shelbyville who went on to play either semi-pro or professionally as well as sports teams from the Bedford County Training School, including their football team the Fighting Tigers who made a national record of 82-0-4 from 1943 to 1950 with 52 consecutive shutout wins and the 1965 Girls’ Basketball State Championship. The school name changed to Harris High School in honor of Principal Sidney W. Harris and later merged students with Central High School after school integration.

Display case with sports memorabilia, honoring Bedford County school athletes and historical sports moments.
Display created by the Gilliland Historical Resource Center
Display of vintage sports memorabilia, including posters, photographs, and a signed football.
Multiple Historical Materials from the Bedford County Training School, from school programs to a game ball presented to Coach Messengale from Jim Mitchell, a BCTS alum who went on to play for the Atlanta Falcons from 1969-1979.
Old photograph of a large group of people gathered in front of a two-story building, displayed with an informational placard.
The Bedford County Training School was originally McAdams High School until 1930 and later changed to Harris High School in 1965 in honor of Principal Sidney W. Harris. The school building stood on Elm Street where the Bedford County Learning Academy stands today.
A vintage photo of a football team with a text: Bedford County Training School, State Champions 1944-45, Winning 31 Straight Games.
The Fighting Tigers with Coach Edward Finley standing on left circa 1944-1945.
Display case with an article titled "Johnson Making It Big With Raiders," a labeled pot, and event tickets.
Left: Article covering Terry Johnson, who went on to play semi-pro basketball in Kenya. Right: The cedar bucket was used as the symbol for an annual football game between Bedford County Training School and Holloway High School in Murfreesboro.
Display case with photos and historical documents, including a basketball player and old team images.
Left: Keon Johnson, Shelbyville local athlete, has played for the Tennessee Vols in 2020 as well as the Los Angeles Clippers and currently the Portland Blazers. Middle Left: A calendar from the Bedford County Training School dated 1958. Middle Right: Danny Johnson was another Shelbyville local athlete drafted into the Kansas City Chiefs. Right: Yearbook photo of Bedford County Training School’s first Girls’ Basketball Team.
An old photo of a girls' basketball team captioned "GIRLS STATE CHAMPS 1965", featuring the team members and a coach with a trophy.
The Harris High School (formerly known as BCTS) Girls’ Basketball Team circa 1965 for the state championships. Kneeling Left to Right: Rose Buchanan Peacock, Shirley Crismon Owens, Jo Ann Lanier Frazier, Janie Holbert Terry. Standing Left to Right: Evelyn Cleveland Thomas, Brenda D. Hodge, Estella Peacock Harvey, Josephine B. Frazier, Caretta Powell, Diane Smith Buchanan, & Coach William P. Martin.
A framed certificate from 1942 and a check beneath it, alongside a photo of basketball player Barry Stewart with career details.
Left: Certificate to BCTS Principal Sidney Harris for his participation in the Rationing War Registration programs during World War II & a salary check for the Turner Normal School, a Shelbyville school which was funded by the local AME Church until it moved to Memphis in 1935. Right: Barry Stewart is a basketball player from Shelbyville who has played with the Mississippi State Bulldogs and BC CSU Sibiu in Romania.
Display case with texts and images related to sports achievements, including a jersey, newspaper clippings, and a sports hall of fame mention.
Left: Information on Wayne Buckingham, an athlete and CEO from Bell Buckle, Middle Left: Article covering Harris High’s Basketball team, Center: Jonathan White, professional baseball player from Shelbyville who has played for the Vanderbilt Commodores and the San Francisco Giants, Middle Right: Photos of various athletes from BCTS/Harris High, Right: Newspaper photo of BCTS Tigers seeking their 59th consecutive win.
A vintage photo of a basketball team with a coach and a trophy.
The Independent League Basketball Team comprised of BCTS students, Kneeling Left to Right: Freddie Brunt, James Lanier, William Lanier, and William H. McChristian. Standing Left to Right: Henry Thomas Knotts, Thomas Lanier, George Buchanan, William Buchanan, and Coach J.B. Cooley.

Be sure to stop by the library to get a closer look at the many photos and materials provided by the Gilliland Historical Resource Center, as well as the Shelbyville Times-Gazette’s coverage of the display in the Saturday, February 4th, issue!