N.C. HOF's Bell Cup Sparks Memory Flood
A lot of memories were rekindled Sunday night when the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame held its inaugural Bell Cup gala at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club.
The Pine Needles reception center was crowded with men and women who excelled in their sporting endeavors and have been recognized for that excellence by being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
There was the First Lady of Golf, of course, Peggy Kirk Bell, attended by her daughters, Bonnie McGowan and Peggy Miller. Mrs. Bell, who has recovered well from knee surgery a few months ago, was buoyant and entertaining as usual. She smiled throughout the evening, as practically everyone at the dinner visited her table for a few words.
Mrs. Bell has been inducted into so many halls of fame that you need a computer just to list them all.
For basketball fans there was Lennie Rosenbluth and Joe Quigg from the 1957 NCAA champion University of North Carolina basketball team. You remember those guys. Their team went 32-0, beating Wake Forest in triple overtime in the ACC Tournament, then knocking off the Wilt Chamberlain-led Kansas University Jayhawks in another triple-overtime thriller for the title.
I remember that game well as I was working in the composing room of The Fayetteville Observer and came pretty close to getting fired for sneaking into the front office a few times too many to check the game on the black and white television set.
There was Eddie Biedenbach, the all-star guard for N.C. State, and Roger Watson, the golfer-developer-professional who is also a member of the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame.
There was memorabilia from such greats as baseball players Enos “Country” Slaughter, Dick Groat, Jim and Gaylord Perry, Tommy Byrne, Hoyt Wilhelm and Jim “Catfish” Hunter.
You could bid on such auction items as basketballs autographed by Rosenbluth and Wake Forest’s Jackie Murdock, UNC’s legendary coach Dean Smith, Duke’s NCAA all-time winning coach Mike Krzyzewski, UNC’s Roy Williams, and the great Tar Heel and NBA Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan.
One of my favorite items was a glove used by baseball great Leo Durocher. I’d pay to see one of today’s players try to field a hot ground ball with that shriveled up little piece of leather.
If you like baseball bats, you had the option of picking up one autographed by Slaughter, Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, or Baltimore Orioles’ standout Brooks Robinson.
The baseball glove was going for a minimum of $500, but the bats were only $100 each. Made you want to go back to the days in the old Chadbourn High School Panthers uniform and take a practice swing.
If you are a NASCAR fan, you could have actually touched a quarter-panel from one of Jimmie Johnson’s race cars. Or better still, you could have taken it home and put it on the den wall for a minimum bid of $250. Or at least you could have had your name on the list.
And just think how your wife would have admired your taste when you hung that beauty on the wall! Of course, if she’s a race fan, she might have hung it herself.
If you really wanted to go big time, there was a bronze statue of golf course designer Donald Ross with a minimum bid of $5,500. You’ve heard of Ross? He’s the guy who gave us Pinehurst No. 2, Pine Needles, Mid Pines and Southern Pines Golf Club.
My special moment of the night came when I ran into Ned Jarrett, the Hall of Fame race car driver and father of driver Dale Jarrett. Back in those long-ago days when I covered NASCAR races at Rockingham and Darlington and Martinsville, Ned was my favorite driver. I was fortunate enough to be paired with him in a couple of race-related golf tournaments in those days, and we shared a laugh Sunday night over the day he choked on a hot dog on the course.
Wasn’t funny at the time, though. We thought for a minute that someone was going to have to perform a Heimlich maneuver.
If you ever get the chance to attend a function with hall of fame members, do it. It’s unbelievable how much stuff comes flooding back into your mind.
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