Another Award for Woody

UNC football star Charlie Justice, sports announcer Woody Durham, and UNC Athletics Director John Swofford during a “Roast and Toast, ” held in Durham’s honor, as charity event for Orange County Volunteers for Youth. Swofford was an honorary chairman of the event, and Justice was a “roaster, ” The event was sponsored by the UNC Athletic Department and The Village Companies, and held at the Hotel Europa in Chapel Hill on January 25, 1986.

Today’s post comes from Jack Hilliard, frequent contributor to A View to Hugh.

In Tar Heel territory you don’t need to add his last name . . . all you need is “Woody” and all will know of whom you speak.  Since he announced his retirement back in April, his name has been in the news on a regular basis.  But today, August 18th, brought the biggest announcement since his retirement news conference on April 20th.  Woody Lombardi Durham, “the voice of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels” for the past forty years, has won the National Football Foundation’s Chris Schenkel Award for 2011.

Woody adds this prestigious award to a resume that already lists memberships in four halls of fame.  He has called play-by-play on 1,805 football and men’s basketball games on the Tar Heel Sports Network since the fall of 1971.  A 1963 graduate of UNC, Woody is a thirteen-time recipient of the North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year Award.  His hall of fame memberships include the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Broadcasters Hall of Fame, the Stanly County Sports Hall of Fame and the Mebane Sports Hall of Fame.  Durham was recently the guest of honor at the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce and Central Carolina Community College Small Business Center’s annual Small Business Banquet, where he was presented with their Lifetime Achievement Award.

Over the years, Woody has received:

  • a distinguished service medal from the UNC General Alumni Association for outstanding service to the University and the alumni association;
  • the William R. Davie Award, given by the UNC Board of Trustees to recognize extraordinary service to the University;
  • the Skeeter Francis Award for special service to the Atlantic Coast Conference;
  • the Russell Blunt Legends Award from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association for being a true legend in athletics;
  • the Lindsey Nelson Outstanding Sportscaster Award from the All-American Football Foundation;
  • with his wife, Jean, the Outstanding Service Award from the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Board of Visitors;
  • a Priceless Gem from UNC Athletics; and
  • a Distinguished Service Award from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

Woody Durham has a full set of journalistic and broadcasting tools. His voice is distinctive. His writing is superior and his research and preparation techniques are legendary—and he brings all those professional skills together with a personal, down- home touch. Folks who combine all those qualities are rare these days and UNC was fortunate to have Woody behind the mic for forty seasons.

When the red light comes on, Woody’s at the top of his game.  He’s been Tar Heel fans’ trusted companion and has set a standard that will be tough to match.

I had the privilege of working with Woody for thirteen years while he was Sports Director at WFMY-TV in Greensboro and during that time I got to see the masterful job he does with everything he undertakes. Be it a one-hour documentary with Charlie Justice or a ten second tease for the 11 o’clock news, the approach was the same: carefully research, then script it and deliver it with dignity, class, and style.

On December 6, 2011, Woody will be honored at the 54th Annual National Football Foundation Awards Dinner at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York with the Chris Schenkel Award.  Every year, the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame presents this award to “a sports broadcaster who has had a long and distinguished career broadcasting college football.” The selection committee seeks to recognize broadcasters with direct ties to colleges and universities.  First presented in 1996, the award bears the name of its first recipient, CBS and ABC sports broadcaster Chris Schenkel, whose commitment to excellence in broadcasting and a longstanding association with the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, reflect the spirit of the award.

In December of 1961, Hugh Morton attended this event and photographed his friend Charlie Justice as he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.  I think we can assume that Hugh will be there in his own way for Woody.

Congratulations Woody . . . this award is truly deserved and long overdue.

In addition to the picture above, Hugh Morton photographed Woody Durham on several occasions throughout his career.  Please visit the online collection of Morton photographs to see more images of Woody Durham.

Bob Hope

Bob Hope drinking water from dipper on golf course

Bob Hope drinking water from dipper on golf course

Today marks the passing of comedian Bob Hope, who died on July 27th, 2003 at the age of 100.  Hugh Morton first photographed Hope in 1944 when he entertained troops during World War II on New Caledonia in the South Pacific.  In Sixty Years with a Camera, Morton described his assignment to cover Hope’s tour as “three of the happiest days of my life.”

Bob Hope, New Caledonia, 1944

Bob Hope, New Caledonia, 1944

The photograph of Hope drinking from a dipper was likely made at Grandfather Country Club, which Hope visited twice in his life.  Hope and Morton developed a friendship over the years, and currently there are twenty photographs of Hope represented in the online collection. The above photograph appears on a roll of film that includes a photograph (cropped by me) of Charlie Justice and Hope sharing their profiles for Morton’s camera.

Bob Hope and Charlie Justice

Bob Hope and Charlie Justice

The event also produced a photograph (not online) that depicts an unidentified person wearing one of the most outlandish sports coats I’ve ever seen!  Can anyone identify the event?

Billy Joe Patton

As mentioned in a comment earlier today, noted amateur golfer Billy Joe Patton of Morganton, N. C. passed away on New Year’s Day. Yesterday, the Golf Digest website published a tribute to Patton, which describe Patton as the “swashbuckler” of a handful of great players during “the last chapter of amateur golf’s golden era in the United States.”

Patton is pictured above (cropped by me) after finishing second at the 49th Southern Amateur Championship held at the Linville Golf Club from June 14th through 18th, 1955—a little more than a year after he nearly became the first amateur to win the Masters at the fabled Augusta National Golf Club, which ended in a showdown playoff between legends Sam Snead and Ben Hogan. A detailed account of the 1955 Southern Amateur Championship notes that after the preliminary rounds, “It was then up to Harrison and Patton and they came through with a fine match to reward the hundreds who puffed up the hills after them.” If you look closely at Patton’s left hand, you’ll see he had a puff himself afterward!

Have a look at more photographs of Billy Joe Patton in the Hugh Morton collection.

“A Great Day in Mudville,” or the Loss of ‘The Boss’

NOTE FROM ELIZABETH: This past Monday, Morton images of the New York Yankees’ 1979 visit to Chapel Hill just happened to come up in our scanning queue. As I added images of George Steinbrenner to the digital collection, I chuckled to myself about those silly Seinfeld plotlines featuring The Boss. So, I was very surprised and saddened to learn of Steinbrenner’s death the very next morning. I asked our resident sports expert Jack Hilliard to write this tribute post.

It was the second Tuesday in July — the day of the “Midsummer Classic,” the 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game. A time when baseball celebrates the best players in the game . . . but the sad news from Tampa, Florida on the morning of July 13, 2010 was that a giant of the baseball world had died. George M. Steinbrenner III, owner of the New York Yankees, died at 6:30 AM of a massive heart attack, nine days after his 80th birthday, and 14 hours before the first pitch of the All-Star Game in Anaheim, California.

He was loved my many, hated by a few, but ignored by none. Steinbrenner once told a reporter for USA Today: “I’ll never have a heart attack. I give ‘em.”

In the thirty-seven and a half years Steinbrenner was “The Boss,” the Yankees won 7 World Series Championships, 11 American League Pennants, and 16 American League East Titles. Over the years, his practice of firing and hiring, re-firing and re-hiring made him famous, or perhaps I should say infamous. In his first 23 seasons,  he changed managers 20 times (including dismissing Billy Martin on FIVE separate occasions!). In 2006, he turned the day-to-day operation of the Yankees over to his sons, Hank and Hal. On April 13, 2010, Yankee stars Derek Jeter and Joe Girardi privately presented him the first 2009 World Series Championship ring. He was “almost speechless” . . . almost.

George Steinbrenner was no stranger to Chapel Hill and UNC. His daughter Jennifer is a 1981 graduate of Carolina, and on three occasions between 1977 and 1981, he brought his Yankees to play the Tar Heels in Boshamer Stadium.

The game on April 3, 1979, is the game many remember as “A Great Day in Mudville.” On that day 7,000 Tar Heel partisans jammed into Boshamer, filling the 2000 seats and the grass-covered embankment along the first base line, lining the fence around the stadium four and five deep, and filling the balconies of the surrounding dorm. Due to rain, the start of the game was delayed and the end came early. And there, in the middle of it all, was Hugh Morton, cameras in hand.

Morton documented the action on the field and also visited with his friend Clyde King, Yankee pitching coach and scout. (King was a North Carolinian from Goldsboro, and during the 1982 season became Steinbrenner’s third general manager, going 29 and 33 over the last 62 games of the season. Some of the players thought he was a spy for “The Boss.”)

Tar Heel native Jim “Catfish” Hunter was the hit of the party.  A good time was had by all . . . well, almost. Steinbrenner’s Yanks won the game 9 to 4.

The next time you visit the new and improved, rebuilt Boshamer, notice the entrance courtyard. It is named for the Steinbrenner family — the result of a one million dollar donation by George Michael Steinbrenner III.

When future baseball historians write about the events of July 13, 2010, the 81st Major League Baseball All-Star game will not be the lead story. The loss of “The Boss” will.

“Recognition and Esteem”

Three cheers for this year’s NC Sports Hall of Fame inductees, and for another blog post by JACK HILLARD! I should note that although (as Jack says below) Mr. Morton probably did attend most of the induction ceremonies, the Morton collection seems only to contain images of ceremonies from 1971 and later (see the collection finding aid, sub-series 2.8, under “Other Events.”) Wish we knew what happened to those earlier ones…

It was early spring 1988 when Bob Wills, Executive Director of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, called and asked if I would once again help with the inductee profile videos. I was pleased to do so for a third year. As payment, Wills sent me two tickets to the 25th Hall of Fame induction banquet, held at the North Raleigh Hilton. He explained that since we were not officially representing a media outlet and since we weren’t invited guests of any of the inductees, we would be seated where ever there was a table with vacant seats. Much to my surprise, Marla and I were seated at a table with Hugh and Julia Morton. I remember vividly Julia describing that first Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Charlotte in April of 1963. She remembered how excited the crowd of about 500 was to see Jim Beatty run again the first sub four minute mile indoors . . . a replay of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” shown on the big screen at the Queen Charlotte Hotel. Jim McKay‘s call of the race has become a classic.

Hugh Morton’s association with the Hall goes back to its beginnings in 1962.  He was on the first board of directors, was Hall president in 1976, and he attended most of the induction ceremonies over the years. In the early days the induction ceremonies were held in cities across North Carolina. Usually a city was selected based on the fact that an inductee was from that area: Wilmington in 1971 for Sonny Jurgensen and Roman Gabriel; Greensboro in 1974 for Art Weiner; Durham in 1976 for Dr. Leroy Walker; Asheboro in 1977 for Lee Stone. 1970 inductee Bones McKinney jokingly would say that he carried the museum around in the truck of his car for many of those early years.

Whatever city was selected, Hugh Morton went, and his camera went also. His photographs of 1981 inductee Dean Smith (see below) and 1987 inductee Francis Rogallo have been widely published.

In a 2003 interview, Hugh described that first board of directors meeting in February of ’63. The meeting lasted four hours and the 18 board members had to cut the list of 10 candidates to 5. “We took in five people that (first) year,” said Morton. “On the first ballot, Charlie (Justice) got more votes that all the others put together. We all knew how good he was.”

So Charlie Justice became the first member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. I recall in 1980 when longtime Sports Editor of the Greensboro Daily News, Smith Barrier, was inducted, WFMY-TV sports reporter Johnny Phelps interviewed Barrier and asked him to list his favorite sports moments. Said Barrier, “I’d have to put Frank McGuire and the 1957 national champion Tar Heels near the top. And of course David Thompson leading NC State to a NCAA Championship in the Greensboro Coliseum in 1974 . . . and Billy Joe Patton at the Masters in 1954.”  At that point Barrier paused for several seconds. Then he added, “and every time Charlie Justice handled the ball for Carolina was a genuine thrill.”

As Hugh said, “we all knew how good he was.”

“The purpose of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame is to honor those persons who by excellence of their activities in or connected with the world of sports have brought recognition and esteem to themselves and to the State of North Carolina.”

Next Thursday night, May 13, at the North Raleigh Hilton, seven new North Carolina sports legends will join the other 260 at the 47th North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet.  In the Class of 2010 will be a Hugh Morton favorite photo subject, Don McCauley, often photographed by Morton with longtime friend Charlie Justice.

–Jack Hilliard

Laugh, think, cry

We’ve been looking through a LOT of basketball photos recently, and I couldn’t help but notice some fantastic Morton shots of the great Jim Valvano, who died of bone cancer 17 years ago this week. In addition to being an extremely talented, entertaining, and exuberant college basketball coach (most notably at North Carolina State University), in his battle with cancer, Valvano gave us a wonderful model of courage, dignity and humor and the face of tragedy. Probably his best-known quote, below, was delivered at the ESPY awards shortly before his death — I challenge you to watch the video of the speech and not do all three things!

To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.

Words to live by. (An interesting and related side note is this article I just happened to see on today about technology and changing cultural attitudes towards end-of-life).

Here’s Jimmy V making “Bones” McKinney laugh:

Morton took the image below at the January 4, 1986 UNC victory over NC State, the “last game in Carmichael.” After the game, Valvano grabbed the ball and shot a layup so he could jokingly claim to have made the “last basket in Carmichael.” (Of course, as Thad Williamson reports, the Heels played in Carmichael again just last month in the NIT).

Daniel Boone was a man. Yes, a big man!

The entertainment community is mourning yesterday’s passing of actor Fess Parker (1924-2010), best known for his portrayals of manly pioneers Davy Crockett and (most relevant to the Morton collection) Daniel Boone. According to Entertainment Weekly‘s Ken Tucker,

In his prime, Parker was a big, rangy man who grew up in a small farm in Texas; his voice retained a warm Texas twang. He shot to a singular pop-culture fame in 1954, when Walt Disney’s Disneyland series broadcast “Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter.” With his buckskin jacket, long rifle, slow drawl, and his coonskin cap, Parker was an immediate sensation. Kids could not get enough of his unique mixture of warmth, toughness, humor, and taciturn wisdom.

After his Crockett years, Parker went on to embody the role of Daniel Boone from 1964 to 1970. When I saw Turner’s article, I couldn’t help but steal the embedded YouTube video he included, of the opening credits of “Daniel Boone”:

In July or August of 1966, Parker paid a visit to Boone, NC’s own “Horn in the West” outdoor drama, and of COURSE, Hugh Morton was present with his camera. (Parker is shown below with Horn actor Glenn Causey; more images of his visit can be viewed here).


Parker and the Horn crew apparently took a trip up Grandfather Mountain during this same visit (more images can be viewed here). You may also recall from a previous post that Parker’s TV son “Israel” (Darby Hinton) also visited Grandfather — whether it was at the same time as Parker, I can’t say.



If anyone knows additional details from these events, please share!

Morton Among the Movers and Shakers

Note from Elizabeth: I’m pleased to present the very first essay from Worth 1,000 Words project, written by journalist Rob Christensen. Rob has been writing about N.C. politics as a reporter and a columnist for 36 years for The News and Observer and The Charlotte Observer; his book The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics won the N.C. Literary and Historical Association’s Ragan Old North State Award for the best work of nonfiction in 2008.

Update 2/9/10: This post has now been converted into its own “page” under the Essays section of A View to Hugh.

Granville Oral Roberts, 1918-2009


Many news outlets have been reporting the death on Tuesday of pioneer televangelist Oral Roberts. You probably know some of the more interesting and controversial stories about Roberts, including his claims of being able to raise people from the dead and of receiving visions from a 900-foot Jesus; or his famous 1987 fundraising stunt where he told viewers that unless he raised $8 million, “God would ‘call him home.’” (He raised $9.1 million).

But you may not have known that Roberts made at least a few visits to Grandfather Mountain, NC, most notably as a speaker at the 1976 “Singing on the Mountain” gospel festival. Roberts shot a nationally-televised prime time special at Grandfather that year, featuring Roy Clark (among others).


Roberts apparently enjoyed the golfing opportunities afforded by the Grandfather Golf and Country Club (if you look very closely at the image above, you can see he’s wearing a “GGCC” sweater). One fall visit, Roberts got a personalized Hugh Morton tour of the natural wonders of the area. According to Julia Morton, “Mr. Roberts came to Linville to visit a friend of ours from Tulsa. Rain kept him from playing golf so Hugh entertained him by showing him the countryside.” It was during this visit that Morton took the lovely portrait of Roberts below.