HOUSTON—A legendary career that began over sixty years ago at Houston’s Playland Park, a quarter mile race track, came full circle Tuesday as A.J. Foyt received his spectacular Houston Sports Hall of Fame ring in a ceremony here at the House of Blues.
The diamond-encrusted ring emblazoned with a checkered flag was one of four unique rings designed by Fred Cuellar (pictured behind athletes), one of the world’s foremost experts in diamonds and a renowned designer of jewelry. Cuellar has designed NFL Super Bowl championship rings (Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos), NHL Stanley Cup championship rings (New Jersey Devils and Detroit Redwings) and MLB World Series championship rings (New York. Yankees).
The rings were awarded to honor Houston’s sports heroes who were inducted into the Hall of Fame in February: Foyt, the first four-time Indy 500 champion, Jackie Burke, Jr. a Masters and PGA golf champion, George Foreman, the two-time world heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist, and Dan Pastorini, the NFL quarterback who played nine seasons with the Houston ‘Luv Ya Blue’ Oilers.
Each custom-crafted ring signified the champion’s career in sport: a golf ball flying off a tee for the now 97-year-old Burke, a waving checkered flag for Foyt, a boxing glove for Foreman and the Oiler’s derrick logo for Pastorini.
All of the recipients were visibly wowed when presented their rings.
“It is fabulous,” said Foyt, adding, “It is one of the nicest rings I’ve ever had and I’m real proud of it.”
Asked about the most memorable moment of his illustrious career, the 84-year-old Houstonian replied, “I started here at Playland Park and my dream was to qualify for