Kell was a longtime athletic figure at Wheeler High School, coaching football and girls basketball, and he later served as the Cobb County School District’s athletic director before dying in 1995. Kell High School is named after him.
Mazzone, an east Cobb resident, worked alongside Bobby Cox as the Atlanta Braves’ pitching coach during the team’s glory years of the 1990s and early 2000s with Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz.
Kell and Mazzone are among 18 finalists whose accomplishments will be considered by the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame Honor Court. At least five finalists will be presented for induction during a Feb. 7 ceremony.
“If Corky were here, he’d be saying, ‘I’m stomping in high cotton,’” said Kell’s widow, Carole, a longtime Cobb County teacher and administrator, about the company her husband is keeping among the other finalists.
In his time as Wheeler’s football coach from 1970-78, Kell went 77-25-1, taking the Wildcats to the state semifinals twice and a state runner-up finish in 1973. He also was a three-time state runner-up as the school’s girls basketball coach.
However, it could be argued that, for as much success as Kell had coaching, he made his most significant mark later on in his professional career.
Kell was one of five founding members of the Georgia Athletic Directors Association, served 14 years on the executive committee of the Georgia High School Association and served as president of the Atlanta Touchdown Club in 1988-89.
The annual high school football showcase that kicks off the season at the Georgia Dome is also named after Kell. In fact, the inaugural Corky Kell Classic was the first event held in the Georgia Dome when it opened in 1992.
Mazzone, spent 16 seasons as the Braves’ pitching coach from 1990-2005 and saw the trio of Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz with a combined six National League Cy Young Awards under his watch. He was also known for his reclamation projects, giving new life to the careers of pitchers such as Jaret Wright and Chris Hammond.
After spending the 2006 and ’07 seasons as the Baltimore Orioles’ pitching coach, on the staff of close friend Sam Perlozzo, Mazzone returned to the Atlanta area.
Mazzone currently works for 680 The Fan as part of the “Rude Awakening” morning show, and he’s a pitching instructor for Marietta-based 6-4-3 DP Athletics.
Mazzone was joined on the list of Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame finalists by Maddux, Smoltz and two others with long ties to the Braves — recently retired third baseman Chipper Jones and former owner Ted Turner, the cable television magnate who founded Turner Broadcasting and CNN.
Other finalists include former Atlanta Falcons coach Leeman Bennett, Olympic medal-winning basketball standout Cindy Brogdon, former Falcons and Georgia Tech linebacker Keith Brooking, late Georgia Tech play-by-place voice Al Ciraldo, tennis champion Mary Ellen Gordon and Betty Jaynes, the founder, executive director and CEO of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
Completing the list are two-time Olympic gold medal-winning track star and Georgia Tech graduate Antonio McKay; 1980 Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers; former Georgia Tech and NBA star John Salley; Jason Varitek, a former Georgia Tech star who went to win two World Series titles as the Boston Red Sox’s long time catcher; and former Atlanta Hawks center Kevin Willis.
Currently, there are five members of the Hall from Cobb County.
Golfer Larry Nelson, a three-time major champion, graduated from North Cobb High School and attended Kennesaw State when it was still a junior college in the 1970s. Mark Price, a former NBA All-Star who also played at Georgia Tech, spent one season as the boys basketball coach at Whitefield Academy.
The other three have ties to Cobb County as residents — three-time all-American Georgia Tech defensive back Randy Rhino, Olympic track gold medalist Melvin Pender and former Atlanta sportscaster Bill Hartman.