Legendary James Gamble ready for Museum of the Gulf Coast Hall of Fame induction

Published 12:30 am Wednesday, October 27, 2021

One of the most revered coaches in Port Arthur history will be inducted into the Museum of the Gulf Coast Sports Hall of Fame Saturday.

Former Lincoln High School Basketball Coach James Gamble will add the induction to his long list of accomplishments that include 641 wins and four state championships.

“I can’t even explain how proud I am to be part of the museum,” Gamble to Port Arthur Newsmedia. “When you look at all of the greatness that is there, to be inducted and put in the same room as those people, is the greatest feeling in the world.”

James Gamble stands next to the bust and monument in his honor at Abraham Lincoln Middle School — the same location he excelled at as a high school coach years ago. (Stephen Hemel/The News)

Gamble led Lincoln to state titles in 1981, 1984, 1986 and 1988. He returned to coaching in 1998 after retiring and posted a record of 29-6 and was the state runner up.

“As a coach, I have been in the Texas High School Coaches Association,” he said. “That is always a competitive environment. As I look back, I have been inducted into the Texas High School Hall of Honor. I have won state championships. I was selected as the All-Star coach. I guess all I am trying to say is that everything that the THSCA had to offer as an award, I have won that. I am very proud of that.”

Gamble will be inducted along with the late boxer Jack Johnson and the late Frank Robinson, who was born in Beaumont.

Gamble said he is honored to be mentioned with the other two legends of their sports.

“It is a similar thrill as when I was inducted into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame when I was in the same class as Walter Payton and Willis Reed,” Gamble said. “I have been in good company for a long, long time. The light has shined bright on me for a very long time. I am very grateful. I am grateful that I have been surrounded by good people, who have helped me achieve the honors that I have achieved. I thank God for surrounding me with those people.”

Gamble still talks frequently to several former players.

“They call and some come by and see about the old man,” he said. “They ask if I need anything. I am awfully proud of all of the young fellas, whose lives I have touched. Most of them have become productive citizens and I am really proud of that.”

Museum Director Tom Neal said the institution would present a trophy to Gamble as part of the ceremony.

Neal said he is reaching out to Major League Baseball to get some Frank Robinson memorabilia to display. Robinson, who died in 2019, was a Hall of Fame player, winning two MVP awards and was named the World Series MVP in 1966. In 1999, he was named to the All-Century team and was listed at the 22nd best baseball player of all time.

Johnson, nicknamed the Galveston Giant, was the first Black American heavyweight champion from 1908-1915.

“Jack has been gone for so long that there isn’t really any more memorabilia out there,” Neal said. “This is more about the impact and footprint that he had.”