MARION -- The late Ross Babington was inducted into the Southern Illinois Miners Coaches Hall of Fame Tuesday with a ceremony prior to the start of the game with Joliet.
A Johnston City native, Babington was a talented athlete at JCHS, leading the Indians to a perfect 9-0 finish in 1969 as the team's quarterback. He would go on to coach football 25 years (17 as head coach) at both Sesser-Valier and his alma mater, amassing 116 wins, 84 of which came at Sesser.
His best team was in 1991 when the Devils advanced to the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs.
About 35 members of Babington's family attended the festivities at Rent One Park Tuesday.
"On behalf of my mom and my two sisters, we're very proud (of the induction) to be here tonight," Ross's son, Brock Babington said. "I can't say enough about the support our family received from both Sesser-Valier and Johnston city residents when my dad became sick. It was amazing -- all the former players of his sending messages, all the area coaches. It's something we won't forget."
Brock, a former standout athlete himself, said the family was pleasantly surprised to learn of the Hall of Fame recognition.
"Dad never sought the spotlight. I'm sure he would be quite humbled. It's nice that he's being recognized for his years of hard work."
Brock, who now works in the healthcare field in Morris, said he was also glad to renew acquaintances with Miners manager Mike Pinto after having worked for the Miners in 2008 and 2009.
Tom Wheeler, a longtime coach from Christopher who got his feet wet coaching at Johnston City in the late 1960s, coached Babington as a freshman. Wheeler attended Tuesday's induction, along with Sesser-Valier coaches John Shadowens and Mike Rude. He had high praise for Babington.
"Ross was the type of man that you would want your son to play for -- always fair, always honest. He never got real excited on the playing field, he kept everything inside."
Wheeler said that many people don't realize how good an athlete both Ross and his older brother, Rick, were.
"Ross was a good quarterback and a good basketball player, too. That 1969 football team beat four South Seven Conference schools in Benton, West Frankfort, Herrin and Marion. Imagine if there had been a playoff system then. Johnston City would have been tough to beat."
Wheeler added that Babington is missed.
"He was more than just a man. He was a friend, a brother. Ross always had your back. And he will always be remembered by those that knew him."