Second Rube Award goes to Ben Puckett

Ben Puckett, a businessman and philanthropist who was passionate about Mississippi sports, will receive the second annual Rube Award at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum’s 51st induction banquet August 2.

The Rube Award, named for long-time Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum executive director Michael Rubenstein, goes annually to a person whose love and passion for — and contributions to — Mississippi sports have made a meaningful difference. Mississippi baseball legend Boo Ferriss won the first Rube Award.

Ben Puckett, right, shows of the gold medal of Bianca Knight at a March reception.

The award’s winner is selected by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum’s Board of Directors.

Puckett, who died on June 2, spearheaded Mississippi’s Olympic efforts for 26 years. He served as the United States Olympic Committee Mississippi State Chairman for 16 years and as co-chairman for another 10 years. The Ben Puckett family has sponsored the Olympic Room in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum since the shrine opened on July 4, 1996. In 1996, Puckett led a successful effort to have international Olympic teams come to Mississippi to train for the Atlanta Olympic Games.

Cal Wells, a Jackson attorney and long-time friend of Puckett’s remembers Ben’s passion for life and the Olympics.

“Ben had an energy level that was unbelievable; nobody could keep up with him,” Wells said. “I think his love for the Olympics went back to the first games he attended in 1968 at Mexico City. He loved the competition. He was a competitor himself and he loved watching great athletes compete.”

Puckett was a Mississippi State graduate and a huge supporter of Mississippi State athletics. Said long-time Mississippi State athletic director Larry Templeton, “Mississippi State was his school, and he was proud of it, and he was 100 percent behind us all the time. He was a great fan, one that never complained and always wanted to help. He made his contributions behind the scene. He didn’t want publicity; he just wanted to make us better.”

Ben Puckett also gave his time and his money to support high school sports and the YMCA.

Tickets to the August 2 induction banquet at the Jackson Hilton are available by calling 601 982-8264.

Joining the late Rubenstein as inductees in the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013 will be Bill Buckner, Jimmie Giles, Gerald Glass, Larry “Doc” Harrington and Langston Rogers.

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A personal remembrance of Ben Puckett’s kindness.

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