JACKSON – Bill Blackwell, chief operations officer of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum for the past eight months, will become the museum’s executive director immediately.
Rick Cleveland, the MSHOF’s executive director since April, 2012, will remain as the MSHOF’s historian and will continue to work in community and media relations and in fund-raising efforts.
“I am humbled and honored to be selected by this board to become the museum’s third executive director, following Michael Rubenstein who started it and Rick Cleveland who has carried on the work and brought some financial stability to the museum,” Blackwell said.
“I am also comforted and pleased that Rick will continue to work with us as historian,” Blackwell added. “His knowledge and recall of the people and places in this state’s sporting history are unparalleled.”
“I hope to maintain the momentum we currently have and to bring new exhibits and events to the Hall.”
Cleveland, who has authored four books and still writes a syndicated newspaper column, said his decision to step away from the executive director duties will allow him more time for writing, including the columns and blog he writes for msfame.com, the museum’s website
“I am proud of what we have accomplished, thanks mostly to a hard-working staff and volunteers. At the same time, writing has remained the part of my work week I enjoy most,” Cleveland said. “I have some projects in mind, a few things left to say.”
Jackson banker Ron Winford, president of the MSHOF’s Board of Directors, believes the future is bright for Mississippi’s foremost sports museum.
“Under Rick’s direction, the museum has grown in every facet,” Winford said. “His vast knowledge and sports connections has put the museum in the best financial position since its inception. Bill Blackwell is an equally recognized sports personality and is poised to continue the great work of Rick and the staff as the new executive director.”
The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum will celebrate 20 years of operation on July 4, 2016. This spring, the museum will host a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit “Hometown Teams.”
Blackwell was four times the Executive of the Year in minor league baseball, including when he was the 1992 Texas League Executive of the Year in Jackson.
During his stint as general manager of the Jackson Generals, Blackwell served on the MSHOF’s original Board of Directors.
“The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame has grown from its early existence into something of which the entire State of Mississippi should be proud,” Blackwell said. “It is truly one of the best facilities of its kind in the country.”
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