The Board of Directors of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame recently announced the 2024 inductees into the museum’s Polo Hall of Fame: Jeff Blake, Rube Williams, Vicki Armour, Dick Latham, Don Beveridge, and legendary horses Sweet Be and Royal Diamond.
The 35th annual Hall of Fame Awards Dinner and Induction Ceremony is one of the premier events of the high-goal polo season in South Florida and is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, at the Museum of Polo.
Jeff Blake is a three-time U.S. Open champion, lifting the trophy in 1996 and 1999 with Outback, and in 2008 with Crab Orchard, in which he was named MVP. He also won the USPA Gold Cup three times (1998, 1999 and 2003) and multiple other high-goal tournaments, including the 2006 Joe Barry Memorial Cup, again being selected as the MVP.
As a consummate professional, Blake, who reached 7 goals, was highly sought after, and added the Pacific Coast Open, Silver Cup, National Twenty Goal, Butler Handicap, Challenge Cup and Sterling Cup trophies to his sparkling résumé. He also represented the United States in the 2009 Westchester Cup and the 1998 14-goal World Championship. Blake was selected as Young Player of the Year in 1998 and in the Polo Magazine Excellence Awards for Young Player.
Posthumous Hall of Fame honoree Hubert Winfield “Rube” Williams, who was known as a fearless player, was an integral member on the winning West team in the famous 1933 East-West series. He suffered a broken leg in the second game of the rough best-of-three.
Williams, an outgoing Texan who reached 8 goals, also won the 1928 Junior Championship (now known as the Silver Cup), the 1930 Monty Waterbury Cup, and was a finalist in the 1932 U.S. Open.
A talented horseman, he and good friend Cecil Smith were well-known for purchasing prospective polo ponies and turning them into top prospects. After retiring from polo, Williams became a well-known horse trainer.
The posthumous Iglehart honor is awarded to Don Beveridge, whose outstanding playing career, coupled with his vision, helped reinvigorate the sport throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
Iglehart Award winner Vicki Armour is recognized as one of the best female polo players of the 1980s and 1990s. She was a profound influence for women in the sport, breaking ground by playing in the 22-goal when it was fairly unheard of for women to be competing at that level.
A fierce competitor on the field, Armour easily held her own with the top players in the sport and became a favorite subject for the press, who extensively covered her remarkable feats.
Iglehart Award winner Dick Latham, who was synonymous with Willow Bend Polo Club, was heavily involved in many aspects of serving the USPA, whether as a delegate (1966-74), on the Board of Governors (1972-79) or as USPA secretary (1973-75). He was also a member of the Handicap, Tournament, Umpire and Trophy committees throughout his many years of service.
The Horses to Remember honoree of the early pre-Hartman era is Royal Diamond, the bay mare that was a treasured pony of Hall of Famer Harry Payne Whitney. Whitney reportedly purchased Royal Diamond from the Duke of Westminster in 1916.
Sweet Be, owned and played by Hall of Famer Charles Smith and Richard Latham, will be recognized as the Horses to Remember honoree of the post-Hartman era.
The 35th annual Hall of Fame Awards Dinner and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Museum of Polo on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. The public is invited to attend. Ticket information will be announced soon.
Learn more about the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame at www.polomuseum.org.