And the Nominees Are…
It’s an idea whose time has come. To my knowledge it was first proposed around 10 or 12 years ago by Tom Ward, the founder and president of the Greensboro Sports Commission, but someone may have dreamed it up years, even decades, before. At any rate, my hat’s off to current Sports Commission President Marc Bush and secretary from day one, Janet DeBartolo, for bringing the idea of a Guilford County Sports Hall of Fame to fruition.
First a disclaimer: I have absolutely nothing to do with the HOF, have no vote, have no insider knowledge. My only connection is that I did nominate someone (more on that momentarily) and hope to continue to be in a position to help publicize the entity as well as its inductees. All I know at this point is that the inaugural roster of 10 Guilford County legends will be announced the day this issue hits the streets and that as many as six more inductees will be added annually.
My purpose here is simply to have a little fun, to play the guessing game and see how my list stacks up with the actual roster. My credentials for this task include the fact that I correctly guessed the identity of the Grasshoppers mystery bobblehead as Jim Melvin a couple of weeks ago ‘— and I have witnesses! Clearly this proves that I am someone who knows his stuff and whose opinion should be taken seriously. So, onward through the fog’….
My crystal ball sees two local former major league baseball players making it into the founding class. Since both are already members of Cooperstown, this should be a no-brainer, but it’s not as cut-and-dried as it may seem. My guess is that most baseball fans from Greensboro would rightly nominate catcher Rick Ferrell, but I wonder if they’d realize that Tiger great Luke Appling was from High Point. Of course, the nominating committee would know this, so both should make the cut.
Rick’s brother Wes, a pitcher, and a fellow backstop, Red Hayworth, should make it eventually, but not the first go-round. I also see two pitchers named Brown ‘— Skinny and Mace ‘— being enshrined soon. Skinny is already in the Orioles HOF, while Mace is remembered as one of the first relief specialists, primarily for the Pirates and Red Sox.
I toyed with the idea of sending the Ferrell brothers in together, but came up with another sibling combo from another sport that’s more suitable: the Bostic brothers, Joe and Jeff. Both offensive linemen, both products of Smith High and Clemson, both with comparable lengths of NFL service, you can’t choose one without the other. Sure, Jeff has a couple of Super Bowl rings as a ‘hog’ with the Redskins, but you can’t penalize Joe for playing his entire career with perennial losers in St. Louis (which became Phoenix).
I can foresee the likes of Tory Holt, Reuben Davis, Haywood Jeffires, and another brother duo, Rod and Mike Elkins (and, come to think of it, their dad, Jack) being honored down the road, but they’ll have to wait their turn.
As for hoops greats, four come immediately to mind, but because we’re limited to 10 total, I’m only choosing two, Bob McAdoo and Lou Hudson. Sweet Lou, a guard for Minnesota and Atlanta, had a jump shot that should be the prototype for every kid on every blacktop in America, while McAdoo was an absolutely unstoppable scoring machine for Buffalo and the Lakers.
Only a tick behind, in my view, would be Globetrotter legend Curly Neal, and Danny Manning, out of Page High and Kansas, who would’ve been an NBA superstar if injuries hadn’t curtailed his career.
Turning to coaches, three are deserving but only two will be called this time, Bob Jameison and Kay Yow. Jameison was a legend at Senior before there was even a Grimsley, and Yow helped put women’s college basketball on the map. If, however, Kay, from Gibsonville, is on the other side of the Alamance County line, High Point’s Tony Simeon would fill the bill quite nicely.
Surely one sportscaster and/or writer will be enshrined initially, don’t you think? And that one person can be none other than Charlie Harville. If you could put a face on Guilford County sports, it would belong to Charlie. Sometimes I still expect him to walk in the press box at First Horizon.
We have to fudge a bit for my final pick, but fudge we shall. If we move the county line just a couple of miles south, we could annex Level Cross, which would mean that Richard Petty qualifies as a Guilfordian. The King would certainly put a nice exclamation point on the Hall of Fame, wouldn’t he?
I had been under the impression that Petty was born here but I checked with Al Thomy, and he corrected me. Al knows everything there is to know about NASCAR, which is one of the reasons I nominated my mentor, Al Thomy, for the Hall. Of course, there are other reasons, like knowing Bobby Jones, Jack Dempsey and Hank Aaron personally. Oh, and being a pallbearer at Ty Cobb’s funeral surely counts for something, right?
Ogi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and heard each Tuesday from 9:30’–10 a.m. on WGOS 1070 AM.