“The Man” in Kenan Fieldhouse

Any UNC football player who came through the program between 1927 and 1973 will tell you Morris Mason “ran the place.”  He was there when Carolina played its first game in historic Kenan Stadium and he never missed a game there during his 46-year career.
If you look at a roster of the all-time lettermen under the letter “M” you will see “Mason, Morris . . . Honorary.”

September 10, 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of Mason’s death.  Morton volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at the life and times of Morris Mason on the UNC campus.

UNC football equipment manager Morris Mason, 1958

UNC football equipment manager Morris Mason being hoisted by Don Kemper (#84) and other players after UNC's 26 to 7 win over Wake Forest in Kenan Stadium, October 25, 1958.

“He walked in the shadow of heroes and became one himself.”  —UNC Sports Information Director, Jack Williams, 1973

October 25, 1958 was band day at Kenan Stadium.  Guest conductor Joseph B. Fields, UNC class of 1953, led 3,379 student musicians from 52 high schools from across North Carolina in a spectacular halftime performance, during the 54th meeting between the Tar Heels from Carolina and the Demon Deacons from Wake Forest.  When the music stopped and the dust had settled on the Kenan turf, Carolina had won the game 26 to 7.

Following an ACC game like this one, somebody often gets a shoulder ride by the winning team. Who got the ride on this beautiful Chapel Hill afternoon?  Was it UNC quarterback Jack Cummings who completed a 55-yard touchdown pass to John Schroeder, or was it Schroeder?  Was it Wade Smith who crafted an electrifying 62-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter?  Was it Head Coach Jim Tatum who got his 12th win since returning to UNC?  Or was it Joseph Fields, the band director from Asheboro High, who entertained 35,000 fans at halftime?

The answer: none of the above.  The Carolina players lofted longtime equipment manager Morris Mason to their shoulders and paraded him to the middle of the field.  Hugh Morton was in place to document the celebration.

It was Labor Day, 1927, when UNC Athletic Director Robert Fetzer hired Morris Mason as fieldhouse custodian.  He soon became equipment manager, trainer, team “valet,” father figure, and unschooled psychiatrist.  He continued in all those positions until July 1, 1974 when he officially retired.

Mason had been a part of every Carolina win and loss in Kenan since its beginning in 1927—and he never missed a game, home or away, going back to 1928. In all, he was an important part of 451 Carolina football games.

“I almost missed one game when one of my relatives died,” Mason recalled in a 1973 interview.  “But I hurried from the funeral to the game and made it before the kickoff.”
He also had a near-miss during a road trip to Virginia.

“I went to sleep on the train and didn’t wake up until the train was pulling into Washington, DC.  But they put me on the next train going back toward Charlottesville and I got there in time to help unload all the equipment.”

Mason loved to travel with the team and he made every road trip starting with the ‘28 season.

“I’ve been to the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Gator Bowl, the Peach Bowl, the Sun Bowl and even to the Oyster Bowl,” he said with his unique smile beaming.

In his 46 seasons at Carolina, Morris Mason worked with nine different coaches during eleven coaching changes and was on the athletic department payroll for more than 17,000 days.  In 1968, former Tar Heel players and coaches showed their thanks by presenting Mason with a new car in a special ceremony at halftime of the Carolina–Duke basketball game.  Also, as part of the tribute, he was given a plaque which reads:

With deep gratitude for sharing the joys of our victories and suffering the pain of our losses through the years. . . .

The plaque is signed by more than 200 former players and well-wishers.  Included in that list: Mister Justice, Mister Weiner, Mister Hanburger, and Mister Willard.  Morris Mason always referred to Tar Heel players as “Mister.”

Charlie Justice, Morris Mason, and others at UNC Homecoming game, 1973

UNC All-America players Charlie Justice (left) and Art Weiner (right) of Greensboro are seen with team trainer Morris Mason (second from left), who retired after 46 years, and UNC Athletic Director Homer Rice at the 1973 homecoming game in Chapel Hill on November 17.

November 17, 1973 was a cool, pleasant homecoming day at Kenan Stadium.  In addition to the homecoming game with Wake Forest, the Justice Era players held one of their reunions and the day also marked the final game for Morris Mason.  He was introduced on the field, to the delight of the 37,500 fans, with Justice, Weiner, and Athletic Director Homer Rice.  Following Carolina’s 42-to-0 win, he was presented the game ball.  Said Head Coach Bill Dooley, “Our players rode Morris Mason off the field on their shoulders and gave him the game ball.  That was a fine tribute to a fine gentleman.”

After his official retirement on July 1, 1974, Mason got to fulfill a longtime wish.  During the 1974 season he got to watch a Carolina football game from the stands.  Although retired, Morris Mason continued to be an important part of the UNC football program.  I recall during graduation/reunion weekend in May of 1989, Hugh Morton and former UNC end Bob Cox put together a slide show and panel discussion about the late 1940s.  When Morris Mason was introduced, there was a standing ovation in Memorial Hall.

A little over three years later, on September 12, 1992, a somber crowd of 48,500 filed into  Kenan Stadium for an evening game against Furman.  Morris Mason had passed away two days before on September 10th.  Football Saturdays in Chapel Hill would never be the same.  When Charlie Justice got the news that Mason had died, he traveled to Chapel Hill and spent the next two days in the Mason home consoling those left behind.

Over the years, reporters would often ask Mason to name his favorite player during his 46 years in the Carolina locker room.

But the answer was always the same: this player was good or that player was great, but he would never name a favorite.  However, shortly before his death, when asked the question he said, “Mister Justice was a great ball player.  Maybe the greatest.  And he is a wonderful man, too.  He didn’t try to be a big star off the field. He was just one of the fellows.”

As the fans filed out of Kenan on September 12th, the Carolina blue sky from earlier in the day had turned into a full Carolina moon beaming down.  Said one Tar Heel alumna,  “that’s Morris’ smile beaming down on us.”

On Wednesday, September 16, 1992, Morris Mason was laid to rest in Shriners Cemetery in Durham.  Mister Justice was scheduled to offer a eulogy to his old friend but was too choked with emotion to speak.

Legendary sports writer Furman Bisher described Mason as “one of the most lovable persons I have ever known in sports.  He was more than an equipment manager, he was a wonderful friend.”

UNC All America end, Art Weiner, in an interview following Mason’s memorial service, said:
“Morris knew everybody.  From the first day you arrived on campus as a freshman, he knew your name.  And when you’d come back years later, he always remembered your name.”

Morris Mason will forever be remembered by the Tar Heel faithful. His name in gold letters over the Kenan equipment room door will forever be a reminder.

Big Shoes to Fill

George Barclay

George Barclay, UNC's head football coach from 1953-1955.

Today’s post comes from contributor Jack Hilliard.

When Larry Fedora and the 2012 Tar Heels take the field at Kenan Stadium on September 1st, expectations will be high.  The Tar Heel faithful will be looking to Fedora to bring UNC football back to that special place where Carl Snavely had the team in 1948 and where Jim Tatum was headed in 1959.  It won’t be easy, but Fedora is not the first UNC head football coach to face this kind of situation.

The Cotton Bowl played in Dallas on January 2, 1950 marked the final game of UNC’s “Charlie Justice Era.”  The following season, head coach Carl Snavely was left with a “just average” Carolina football team.  In ’50 and ’51 his teams were able to win only five games and lost to Duke twice.  In the spring of ’52 he brought in George Barclay, head coach at Washington and Lee, as an assistant.  Tar Heel fans will remember Barclay as UNC’s first All America player in 1934, coached by Snavely.

The ’52 season wasn’t any better with only two wins, including another loss to Duke.  Following the season, the UNC Athletic Council made a coaching change; on December 2nd, head coach Carl Snavely submitted his resignation.

The Athletic Council took its time in naming Snavely’s successor.  Several names were rumored to be in the mix, including Jim Tatum.  Tatum had been the head coach in 1942, but since 1947 had been building a powerhouse at Maryland.  Finally on January 23, 1953 the Athletic Council, with the backing of the Board of Trustees and Chancellor Robert B. House, named Snavely assistant George Thomas Barclay the new coach and gave him a three year contract.  Much was expected from the Tar Heel alumnus.

Barclay hit the ground running, winning his first three games during the ’53 season, but when Maryland came to town on October 17th the wheels came off and the Heels lost the next five games—and then lost the final game of the season to Duke.  The result was not much better than the final seasons under Snavely.  1954 and ’55 produced only seven wins and two more losses to Duke.  A coaching change was in the wind again and this time they got Jim Tatum.  Tatum brought in Jim Hickey, head coach at Hampden-Sydney as an assistant.  Tatum was well on his way to bringing the program back when he suddenly died on July 23, 1959.

Jim Hickey

"Jim Hickey, UNC football team, 1962"

The Athletic Council took only four days to select Tatum’s successor.  At 5:40 PM on July 27, 1959, Chancellor William B. Aycock with Athletic Director Charles (Chuck) Erickson at his side, made the announcement that Tatum assistant, 39-year-old James (Jim) Hickey would be the new Tar Heel Coach with a three year contract.  In accepting the position, Hickey told a large group of newsmen gathered at The Pines Restaurant, “I appreciate this opportunity.  It is one I have always wanted.  My only regret is the circumstances under which it had to come about.”

Hickey was able to lead the Tar Heels to five wins in his first season, but the thing most Tar Heels like to remember about the ’59 season is that 50 to 0 win at Duke on Thanksgiving Day on national television.  The seasons 1960 through ’62 produced only eleven wins, but Hickey’s high water mark came in 1963 when he led the Heels to nine regular season wins including a 16 to 14 win over Duke and UNC’s first Atlantic Coast Conference championship.  The season was capped with a 35 to 0 win over Air Force in the Gator Bowl.  The bowl win was another first for the Tar Heels.  Hickey continued as Carolina’s head coach through the 1966 season, but was never able to top the heroics of 1963.

Today in 2012, the UNC football program is at another crossroad and Larry Fedora has been selected to carry forward a program steeped in tradition.  The shoes are there to be filled.

Hugh Morton’s first daily newspaper assignment

The previous post on A View to Hugh features a Hugh Morton photograph of Grandfather Mountain, published without credit on the cover of the 8 March 1941 issue of The State.  As the blog post revealed, I suspect the photograph dates from 1940 or earlier, which is relatively early in Morton’s career as a photographer.  January of that year saw Morton beginning his second semester as a freshman at UNC.  His camera had been stolen shortly after arriving on campus in the autumn of 1939, and it was not until sometime around January or February 1940 that he bought his next camera.  So, I wondered, “How early in his career would that have been?”  Today’s exploration unravels an uncertainty and mystery that I didn’t even have until two days ago.

This is an important photograph in Morton’s career.  At the time he made it, Morton was a UNC student with a summertime job as the photography counselor at Camp Yonahnoka.  Here’s one of his accounts about the photograph, quoted from the preface of his 2003 book Hugh Morton’s North Carolina:

In 1940, at nearby Linville, a fourteen-year-old kid from Tarboro named Harvie Ward embarrassed a lot of adults by winning the prestigious Linville Men’s Golf Tournament.  Burke Davis, sports editor of the Charlotte News, contacted the Linville Club for a photograph of Harvie Ward, and I was called to come up from camp to carry out what was my first photo assignment for a daily newspaper.  Davis liked my Harvie Ward pictures, and this led to many photo assignments for the Charlotte News during my college years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Because this assignment helped launch Hugh Morton’s career as a news photographer, and the early view of Grandfather Mountain was also likely made in 1940, I wanted to know when the Charlotte News published the Ward photograph(s) (two negatives are extant in the Morton collection) relative to publication of the early Grandfather Mountain view in The State.  I searched the Web for information on the Linville golf tournament and Harvie Ward for 1940, but only found a few bits and pieces—and nothing that said when they played the tournament.  So . . . off to the microfilm room.

I scanned through issues of the Charlotte News, Tarboro’s Daily Southerner, and Rocky Mount’s Evening Telegram published during the “golf-able” summer months through mid September, by which time Morton would have returned to Chapel Hill from Camp Yonahnoka and Ward would have already returned to Tarboro in time for their classes.  Nothing . . . at least not that mentioned Harvie Ward winning the tournament in 1940.

I turned next to Morton’s booklet, Sixty Years with a Camera published in 1996, which I recalled also included the portrait of Ward.  As The Jetsons cartoon dog Astro would say, “Ruh Roh . . . .”

The first picture I took on assignment for a newspaper (the Charlotte News) was of Harvie Ward when he won the 1941 Linville Men’s Golf Tournament.  This was a very competitive event, and it was a surprise to everybody that a 15-year-old kid from Tarboro would win it.

Two different statements of fact.  What to do?  Well, I turned to a different newspaper, the Charlotte Observer and here’s what I found: Harvie Ward didn’t win the Linville Men’s Invitational Tournament in 1939, 1940, 1941, nor 1942.  (I didn’t go further, because Morton was in the army in 1943).  A detailed listing of the entrants in the Charlotte Observer revealed that Ward didn’t enter the 1940 tournament; he did, however, defeat Ed Gravell of Roaring Gap to win the “second flight” of the 1941 tournament.  I also found a congratulatory paragraph in the Daily Southerner on August 4, 1941 “for taking first place in second flight in Linville invitational golf tournament.  Harvie is having great time knocking off the little fellows.”  [For golf historians, Sam Perry emerged victorious in 1939, Charles Dudley won the championship flight in 1940, Hub Covington won the 1941 tournament, and Billy Ireland won the event in 1942.]

To be thorough, I searched for both years (1940 and 1941) through mid September.   There are no photographs of Ward in the Charlotte News.  I now even wonder if the newspaper ever published one of these portraits of Ward by Morton.

So in all likelihood, Hugh Morton had it right the first time in the 1996 booklet: the Harvie Ward, Jr. photographs probably date from 1941.  And here’s some supporting evidence: photographs began appearing in the Charlotte News sports section’s “Pigskin Review” articles with the credit line “News Photos by Hugh Morton” in mid September 1941, which is in agreement with Morton’s statement that the Ward pictures “led to many assignments.”  Morton photographed members of the 1941 football teams of UNC (published September 12th), Duke, (September 13th), NC State (September 15th), and Wake Forest (September 24th), plus two photographs made during and after UNC’s season opener on September 20th against Lenor-Rhyne that featured UNC’s standout running back Hugh Cox.  By comparison, there are no photographs in the newspaper credited to Morton in late summer or early autumn of 1940.

My conclusion? So far, the earliest Morton photograph that I’ve discovered to be published in a non-UNC publication is the early view of Grandfather Mountain.  Now, please tell me why I believe the story probably doesn’t end there?!

In the shadow of Justice

Today, August 16th, UNC’s great All America end Art Weiner celebrates his 86th birthday.  Weiner and teammate Charlie Justice were UNC’s “Touchdown Twins” of the late 1940s.  Justice, the tailback in Coach Carl Snavely’s famous single wing formation got most of the headlines.  Weiner would have received just as many accolades—maybe more—had he been on any other team without Justice.  Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at the Weiner-Justice connection during the golden era of Carolina football.

UNC football team, 1949

Charlie Justice (22) and Art Weiner (50), lead the UNC football team onto the field at Kenan Stadium, 1949.

He was the perfect fit.  Art Weiner, with his wit and sense of humor, was the perfect “Roaster” for a series of Charlie Justice charity roasts during the early 1980s—one in Greensboro for multiple sclerosis, one in Asheville for the Western Carolina Children’s Foundation, and one in Charlotte for juvenile diabetes.  Weiner had tales to tell on his longtime friend and teammate.  A favorite story went something like this:

My mother-in-law never understood all of the hype about Charlie Choo Choo Justice.  She said, “If he’s as good as all the newspaper headlines say he is, why doesn’t he just go out on the field by himself and win the game, and all of you guys can just stand and watch?”

Well, at the 1949 Carolina–Duke game over in Durham I had a great day.  I caught two touchdown passes, and blocked the Duke field goal attempt in the final seconds to save the game.  So, when I got home that night I called my mother-in-law and said, “Be sure and check tomorrow’s paper . . . see who makes the headlines this time.”

Next morning, Weiner rushed out to get the morning paper off the front porch.  He ran inside and opened it up to the sports section and there it was, the headline from Saturday’s game: “Justice Scores One, Passes For Two, Leads Tar Heels Over Duke.”

In the fall of 1946, Art Weiner and Charlie Justice, through one of those quirks of fate that often happens in the world of sports, found themselves together on the practice field in Chapel Hill.  Both had played service football during World War II—Weiner in the Marines and Justice in the Navy.  Both had played in Hawaii.  Immediately they became friends, on and off the playing field.  It was on the field where they made headlines.

Charlie Justice and Art Weiner, 1949

Charlie Justice and Art Weiner, 1949.

The first game of the golden era of Carolina football came against Virginia Tech (called VPI in those days) on September 28, 1946.  On the second UNC series of that game, Weiner caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Bill Maceyko.  It was Weiner’s first college play.  He went on to score three more times in ’46 despite several injuries.  In 1947 Weiner caught 19 passes for 396 yards, but it was 1948 when he was selected to Grantland Rice’s All America team.

When UNC alums, fans, and friends get together, they often look back at great Carolina wins.  Two games from 1948 almost always come up: the Texas game and the Duke game.  When Texas came to town on September 25th, Weiner had a touchdown on Carolina’s third play from scrimmage, and the Heels went on to win 34 to 7.  In the Duke game, 44,500 fans—in perfect Kenan Stadium weather—saw Weiner catch two touchdown passes: one for 13 yards from Justice, and another for 26 yards from fullback Hosea Rodgers.  It was Justice’s 43-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, however, that made all the headlines.

In addition to the Duke game that he described at the Justice roast, the 1949 season saw Weiner play a great game against NC State and have a fantastic day against the University of Georgia in Chapel Hill catching six passes—two for touchdowns.  He was selected lineman of the week by the Associated Press.  Head Coach Wally Butts, the Hall of Fame Bulldog main man, in an interview following Carolina’s win, said, “Art Weiner is the greatest pass catching end I’ve ever seen.”

Art Weiner catching pass versus Georgia.

UNC left end Art Weiner catches pass during game against Georgia at Kenan Stadium, September 27, 1947. UNC tailback Charlie Justice (left) looks on from a distance while Georgia's Dan Edwards (#55) watches from a few yards away.

Justice talked at length about his friend and teammate in the locker room following the ’49 Georgia game.  “Boy, that Art was terrific today.  Did you see him fake that safety man on the first touchdown?  I almost had to laugh when I threw the ball.  And that last (winning) touchdown?  Why, that was a run which would ordinarily take both a halfback and a fullback to make.  The guy’s terrific.”

Charlie Justice and Art Weiner in locker room

Charlie Justice and Art Weiner shake hands in a locker room after a 1949 UNC football game (negative P0081 6.2.1-1-279, cropped).

Orville Campbell, writing in The Carolina Gridiron magazine, compared Weiner to another great Carolina end, Andy Bershak.  Against NC State, Weiner had seven catches which prompted State Head Coach Beattie Feathers to conclude,  “I’m thankful that I’ll never have to set up another defense to try and stop Weiner and Justice.  They’re uncanny.”

Art Weiner (#50) with ball; NC State Full Back Paul Bruno (#32).

Art Weiner with ball eluding North Carolina State fullback Paul Bruno, 24 September 1949.

When the 1949 season ended, Weiner had 52 catches to lead the nation in receptions.  He was again selected to All America teams and was a unanimous choice for the first annual Senior Bowl game played in Jacksonville’s Gator Bowl on January 7, 1950, where he caught eight passes for 139 yards and was lineman of the game.

Art WeinerIt was not surprising when Weiner was the first round NFL draft pick on January 20, 1950 of the New York Yankees.  (Yes, there was a New York Yankees pro football team in 1950.)  During the ’50 season, he caught 35 passes for 722 yards and 6 touchdowns.  His pro career, however, was cut short by a knee injury.  He coached briefly at Kings Mountain High School, and then joined Burlington Industries as a vice president for manufacturing services where he remained for 23 years.

Although they went their separate ways following their time at UNC, Weiner and Justice remained steadfast friends through the years.  The 1946-49 era UNC players held reunions from time to time, and Weiner and Justice were always there leading the cheers.  There were celebrity golf tournaments . . . there was even a UNC football alumni basketball team called the Carolina Clowns.

When the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame inducted Weiner in 1974, Justice was at the ceremony cheering for his friend.  In June 1981 Art Weiner Travel, Inc. of Greensboro established a branch office in Greenville that was jointly owned by Charlie Justice.  In December 1992 when the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame inducted Art Weiner, Charlie Justice was there in Art’s shadow.  Charlie Justice and Art Weiner made their final appearance together on the field at Kenan Stadium on November 16, 2001 at the Justice Era Reunion.  It would be Charlie’s final visit to Chapel Hill.

Meanwhile . . . back at the roast . . . Weiner asked the question:

Did you ever wonder why there are so many fantastic Hugh Morton action pictures of Charlie Justice?  Well, Hugh Morton was a world class, fantastic photographer, but there is another reason.  We had one member on our team who never touched the ball . . . never made a tackle . . . never threw a block.  His only purpose in life was to let Charlie Justice know where Hugh Morton was on the sidelines.

The young man did a good job.  There are dozens of Justice (and Weiner) action shots—not all of which are online—in the Hugh Morton collection at Wilson Library on the UNC campus.

Here’s a postscript for UNC trivia fans: What year did Charlie Justice complete his final pass to Art Weiner on the field at Kenan Stadium?

The Poetic Prose of Julius Jennings Wade

 A Gentleman by instinct, an athlete by hope, and a genius by nature—this is Julius Jennings Wade.

Yackety Yack (UNC Yearbook), 1923

Today’s post is by A View to Hugh contributor Jack Hilliard, marking the fiftieth anniversary of Jake Wade’s death.

Jim Reid interviewing Jake Wade

Jim Reid (left) of WPTF Radio, Raleigh, interviewing Jake Wade, sports information director at UNC-Chapel Hill in the 1940s-1950s, about the UNC men's football team.

His byline as editor of the Daily Tar Heel was J.J. Wade.  His dear friend Smith Barrier, Sports Editor of the Greensboro Daily News, called him Julius.  Fellow Sports Information Director at Wake Forest, Marvin “Skeeter” Francis, referred to him as Mr. Wade . . . but the entire Tar Heel Nation and countless thousands across the Carolinas and beyond called him Jake—a friend of all who knew him.

Following his graduation in June 1923, Jake Wade took a job writing for the Gastonia Gazette.  He then moved on to similar positions in Raleigh, Fayetteville, Charlotte, Columbia, Pittsburgh, and Greensboro where he did political reporting in addition to his sports work.  By December 1930 he was back in Charlotte as Sports Editor of the Charlotte Observer, a position he would hold for fifteen years.  His first assignment at the newspaper was to interview new Duke Head Football Coach Wallace Wade, who had just left the University of Alabama for the Durham campus.  With the Charlotte Observer‘s circulation of 100,000, “Jake Wade’s Sports Parade” column became an instant hit with its readers.  Charlie Justice, UNC’s great All America football player, once said “if you made Jake Wade’s column, you were almost assured of being selected All State.”  (Justice was mentioned and was selected.)

Wade put together a first-class staff in Charlotte.  In 1936, while covering American Legion Junior Baseball, Wilton Garrison caught Wade’s attention and he brought in Garrison as the assistant sports editor.  Garrison would succeed Wade as sports editor of the Charlotte Observer ten years later.  Among Wade’s other hires was a student at Presbyterian Junior College, then located in Maxton.  The young man was James B. McMillan, who would later make a name for himself as a Golden Gloves boxer, a trial lawyer, and a United States district court judge.  In the 1970s McMillan would preside over the famous Charlotte-Mecklenburg school-busing case.  Another member of Jake Wade’s sports team was a student at Wake Forest College, which was located in Wake County in those days.  The student, whose father was the police chief in Monroe, was named Jesse Helms, Jr.  Of course he later became a radio and TV commentator, and, in 1972, an elected United States Senator from North Carolina.

(A side note:  One of the carriers for the Observer during the late 1930s was a high school kid from Dallas, North Carolina named William Clyde Friday.  Need more be said?)

In addition to his exceptional writing and a mastery of the English language, Jake Wade founded the Charlotte Observer-sponsored Carolina Golden Gloves, and was co-founder of the Charlotte Quarterback Club and the Carolina Boys Baseball Game.

The Charlotte Observer sports section under Wade’s leadership was world class—covering major league and the Charlotte Hornets baseball teams, the great and not so great boxing of the 1930s, and football of every description.  But Jake Wade was never far removed from his Tar Heels from Chapel Hill.  Case in point: his column following the 1935 UNC-Duke Football game, a game the Tar Heels needed to win for a trip to the Rose Bowl.  Wade titled it “Thorns for Roses,” and it went like this:

Roses are the loveliest of flowers, but ambitious football teams know only their thorns.  Had North Carolina beaten Duke Saturday it is quite likely the Tar Heels would have gone to the Rose Bowl.  And the Tar Heels knew it.  Everybody knew it. . .  Everybody said Carolina would win, and the Chapel athletes must have kept reading it in the papers.  Drinking it in.  Digesting it.  Basking in the glory of it.  Yet the Tar Heels didn’t win.  They didn’t come close.  The Tar Heels were buried deep in the turf, 25 to 0.  So the Tar Heels will get to eat their Christmas dinner at home.  They will not go to the Rose Bowl.  They get only the thorns from the roses, and thorns have no fragrance.  They only stick you.

A great example of Jake Wade’s ability to breathe life into the printed word. His byline was a mark of quality.  (If you would like to read more of his writing, seek out Jake Wade’s Sports Parade: Selected Columns published in 1941.)

UNC Ram mascot "Rameses VI" standing with group of cheering men and women in the lobby of a New York hotel before or after the 11/12/1949 UNC-Notre Dame football game held at Yankee Stadium. Included in the photo are: (front row, left to right) Jake Wade, UNC Sports Information Director; G. B. Cook, (with beard) Rameses' volunteer game handler; Rameses VI; Norman Sper, UNC Head Cheerleader; (2nd Row, far left, with glasses) Robert W. Madry, Director UNC News Bureau. From the cheering faces, it was probably before the game. See http://blogs.lib.unc.edu/ncm/index.php/2008/10/08/unc-versus-notre-dame-footbal/ for more on the game.

After fifteen years of the burden of producing six columns a week and the accompanying long hours, Wade was ready for a career change.  In late 1945, he left Charlotte and headed east to his alma mater, arriving in Chapel Hill in time to celebrate Charlie Justice and the era that bears his name.

Wade picked up where he left off in Charlotte, with a syndicated weekly column as well as a column in each home game football program.  The columns were called “Jake Wade’s Carolina Caravan,” and it included all things Carolina.  He was a newspaperman who enjoyed college life and the honor and privilege of writing his kind of prose about young folks who were stars on the field—on the court and on the campus.  His love of the game, the players, and coaches was a compelling force in his life.  Strangely enough, however, perhaps his most famous “Carolina Caravan” column was not about sports.  It told the story of Chapel Hill, a place that UNC grads love, but only Jake Wade could bring to life on paper.  He called it “A Town Touched by Strange Magic,” and it begins like this:

This is a town touched by strange magic and one to which its peoples, many of them a curious breed, hold a rare and somewhat inexplicable attachment.  Our town has no rivers, no mountains, no seas, but in the spring it is beautiful and in all seasons it is both wonderful and sad, romantic in the spirit of the youth it harbors in the educational process of the great State University, which is the town’s principal industry.

Chapel Hill, where bells wake you in the morning, regardless of whether you live in the Beta house, Cobb dormitory or on Laurel Hill, and where the bells keep ringing periodically the day long, with the chimes taking over the majesty of twilight and on certain important occasions such as the big football games.

Probably no one sports figure ever captured Wade’s imagination more than Charlie Justice.  In 1953 Wade wrote an essay titled “The Man Called Justice.”  In it he said:
“He (Justice) achieved plenty.  I was there, Mister, as sports publicist, and if Justice was a coach’s dream, he was a publicist’s peaches and cream.  I must have written a million words extolling his virtues and dispatched thousands of pictures to newspapers and magazines . . . .”

The essay was accompanied by four Hugh Morton photographs and was published in the “All South Football Annual” at the beginning of the ’53 football season.

During a visit with Charlie and Sarah Justice in 2003, I asked Charlie how he became one of the most widely publicized players in football history without all those ESPN channels and no Saturday “film at 11.”  Said Justice, “I didn’t need all that.  I had Jake Wade writing and Hugh Morton taking pictures.”

On May 8, 1962, Jake Wade finished writing a column about the UNC-Miami tennis match in Chapel Hill which drew 3,500 fans.  He sent it out to his newspapers across the state. It would be his final “Carolina Caravan.”  The following morning, Wade drove his wife to Raleigh to catch a bus to Wrightsville Beach where she would visit her mother.  During the return trip to Chapel Hill, on US 54 about one and a half miles east of Morrisville, Wade had a medical emergency and his car ran off the left side of the highway, traveled about 30 feet into a heavily wooded area and hit a tree.  Wake County Coroner Marshall Bennett determined that Wade had a fatal heart attack. Jake Wade was only 61 years old.  The University community was stunned.  Carolina’s sports voice had been sadly silenced.   Chancellor William B. Aycock said, “We grieve the loss of a fine member of the University family.”  Basketball coach Dean Smith added, “Jake Wade has been a close friend to my family and to me.  In my first year of coaching Jake Wade was the man to whom I looked for advice…I will dearly miss him.”  On May 11, 1962 a memorial service was held at The Church of the Holy Family in Chapel Hill.  Following the service, Jake Wade was laid to rest in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery.  Members of the UNC athletic staff were pallbearers.

On Saturday, September 22, 1962, Carolina played NC State to begin the football season.  The game program was dedicated to “the great craftsman.”  Thirty years later on May 7, 1992 Julius Jennings Wade was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame[Editor's note: though the type of event Hugh Morton would photograph, he apparently did not attend the event.  On the same night, his calendar notes "{Charles} Kuralt Dinner—Hound Ears—Spencer."]  As is the Hall of Fame custom, an artifact from each inductee is presented to the Hall for display in the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.  The Wade family presented the manual typewriter that Jake Wade had used to write his long remembered poetic prose.

Who Am I? . . . Baseball Style

Portrait of UNC baseball player, most likely on campus in Chapel Hill, NC.

Portrait of UNC baseball player, most likely on campus in Chapel Hill, NC.

It has been a very busy week in the office—and a short one at that with a three-day weekend holiday . . . and the library closing thirty minutes from when I started today’s post.  So this will be a short-and-sweet “Who am I?” post in recognition of opening day of Major League Baseball.

Above is a portrait of an unidentified UNC baseball player from the 1940s.  Anyone able to put a name on his uniform?  For those who may be curious, he’s holding a Hillerich & Bradsby Co. Louisville Slugger—a 125 LG Lou Gehrig signature model bat.

Next week will feature another “Who am I?” post . . . and it won’t be sports!

The Madness of March: Two Championships Uniquely Remembered (Part Two)

This is part two of A View to Hugh contributor Jack Hilliard’s personal look back at two of Carolina’s NCAA basketball championships.  The Tar Heels championship aspirations for 2012 fell short, with a loss in its “Elite Eight” match-up against Kansas last week.  Thirty years ago today, the Tar Heel squad made it all the way to the top.

A dear coworker of mine, Bill Richards, passed away on March 18th while watching the Tar Heels play their “Sweet Sixteen” game against Creighton in the NCAA tournament.  In addition to being an avid UNC football and basketball fan, Bill was the senior digitization technician in the Carolina Digital Library and Archives.  His knowledge and skills with scanning technologies, Photoshop, and high-end inkjet printing were formidable, and he taught me most of what little (by comparison) that I know on those topics.  In 1982, Bill was the Chief Photographer for the Chapel Hill Newspaper,  In 1988, he began working as a photographer and graphic designer in the UNC Office of Sports information.  He began working in the Library Photographic Service  in 1998, but continued working for Sports information into the 2000s. This post is dedication to one of the best colleagues with whom I have ever worked.

1982 NCAA trophy and the UNC Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower

1982 NCAA trophy and the UNC Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower

Twenty five years after Frank McGuire’s 1957 miracle, the University of North Carolina was in position to win another NCAA championship.  Like the 1957 team, the 1982 team won 30 games going into the final four.  The only difference: the ’57 team hadn’t lost, while the ’82 team had lost twice.  Unlike 1957 championship game, however, Hugh Morton was there.

On the night of March 29, 1982 many Tar Heel fans will remember hearing Woody Durham, the voice of the Tar Heels, exclaim:

“The Tar Heels are going to win the National Championship.”

Those words triggered a Franklin Street celebration of epic proportions.  30,000 fans and alumni came out to celebrate.  The party had been 25 years in the making.  I recall working that night at WFMY-TV and we had our microwave truck on Franklin Street.  News 2 Anchor Sybil Robson reported as the celebration surrounded her.  It was good TV.  Eddie Marks, writing in the Greensboro Daily News, on March 30th described the celebration:

“Pandemonium, hysteria, fireworks and beer.  This is the stuff national championships are made of.”

The celebration finally ended about 4:00 a.m.

University of North Carolina men's basketball head coach Dean Smith on sidelines during Final Four, March 1982

University of North Carolina men's basketball head coach Dean Smith on sidelines, with Assistant Coach Roy Williams and Assistant Coach Eddie Fogler sitting on bench in background. (Cropped by the editor.)

The 1981-82 UNC Tar Heel team was head coach Dean Smith’s 21st team, and was his best to date. The semifinal win over Houston and the national championship victory over Coach John Thompson’s Georgetown Hoyas marked Smith’s 467th and 468th wins.  It was his first National Championship.  (Smith would go on to win a second NCAA championship in 1993 and would win a total 879 games before his retirement on October 9, 1997.)

Wide-angle shot of the Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, March 1982

Wide-angle shot of the Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, site of UNC's NCAA men's National Championship games, March 27-29, 1982

The 1982 NCAA final game was played before 61,612 fans in the Louisiana Superdome.  It was the 44th NCAA tournament final and it marked the first game to be televised by CBS Sports under a new NCAA contract.  That contract is still in effect, and CBS marks the 31st anniversary of NCAA championships this month. (NBC had carried the championship game since 1969.)  But on this night in ‘82 Gary Bender and Billy Packer brought the game to fans across the country.

With 32 seconds left and trailing by one, Coach Smith called a time out, set a play, and told Michael Jordan to “knock it down.”  Jordan did just that, providing the margin for the 63-62 victory.

University of North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball player Michael Jordan cutting basketball net after winning the 1982 NCAA championship.

University of North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball player Michael Jordan cutting basketball net after winning the 1982 NCAA championship.

Morton remembered the confusion after the game as the security folks tried to get Coach Smith and his team off the court.  Morton said Smith grabbed him by the arm and said, “Stick with me.”  He then turned to the security guard, pointed at Morton and said, “He’s with us.”  This provided Hugh Morton a unique opportunity for some fantastic pictures.

Former UNC Head Coach Frank McGuire (right) congratulates Head Coach Dean Smith after winning the 1982 NCAA championship.

Former UNC Head Coach Frank McGuire (right) congratulates Head Coach Dean Smith after winning the 1982 NCAA championship.

Frank McGuire was one of the first to congratulate Coach Smith and Morton got the shot.  In the aftermath of the victory hugs and smiles, there were some tears.  Georgetown All America Eric “Sleepy” Floyd could not hold back his emotions.  His 18-point effort simply had not been enough.  He congratulated his friend and fellow Gastonian Tar Heel All America James Worthy.  Again, Morton captured the emotion of the moment.

James Worthy and Eric "Sleepy" Floyd after the 1982 NCAA Championship game.

James Worthy and Eric "Sleepy" Floyd. Coach Dean Smith looks on. (P081_NTBR2_002047_22; cropped by editor.)

The headline in the Greensboro Daily News on Wednesday, March 31st described the Tar Heel Tuesday afternoon welcome back to Chapel Hill as a “Blue Frenzy.”  20,000 cheering fans packed the north side of Kenan Stadium long before the scheduled 3:00 p.m. celebration.  There were T-shirt vendors selling souvenirs from the back of station wagons parked at the Stadium gate.  A Franklin Street bakery was set up selling Carolina blue gingerbread men.

The official party began when “Voice of the Tar Heels” Woody Durham ran onto the field and yelled, “How ‘bout them Heels!”  Then the team bus arrived from Raleigh-Durham Airport and each team member spoke to the delight of the crowd.

As the homecoming celebration began to wrap up, Sky 2, Sky 5 and Chopper 11, helicopters from three of North Carolina’s TV stations jockeyed for position overhead, trying to get that perfect aerial crowd shot for the evening news.  That too was good TV.

The Madness of March: Two Championships Uniquely Remembered (Part One)

The “Sweet Sixteen” round of March Madness begins today, so  A View to Hugh contributor Jack Hilliard takes a personal look back at a very special time in Carolina basketball history—1957— in part one of a two-part series.  Part two will recall UNC’s 1982 championship.

Update on 3/28/2012: Working on part two today,  I discovered that I inadvertently omitted a dedication request by the author when I was constructing this post.  The post is dedicated to the 1957 team manager, Joel Fleishman,  who passed away earlier this month.  As a News-Record.com news brief put it, “Joel Fleishman was the manager of the 1957 North Carolina Tar Heels until the day he died.”

UNC men's basketball coach Frank McGuire posed with basketball hoop, net, and ball

UNC-Chapel Hill men's basketball coach Frank McGuire posing with basketball hoop, net, and signed ball commemorating 1957 NCAA Championship win.

It was 55 years ago . . . March 23, 1957, that we heard this call from WPTF radio play-by-play announcer Jim Reid:

. . . we win 54 to 53.  North Carolina did it . . . Great day in the morning.

This radio broadcast has become a classic, but the television coverage of that championship game played a significant role in television sports history as well.

Friday, March 15, 1957 was career day at Asheboro High School.  Representing careers in television was Jack Markham a producer/director from WFMY-TV in Greensboro.  I remember how excited he was that his station was going to carry Carolina’s Eastern Regional game that night against Canisius from the Palestra in Philadelphia.  Many of us at Asheboro High had seen the ’57 Tar Heels when they came to town to play the McCrary Eagles in an exhibition game on December 1, 1956—a game that Carolina won but did not become part of the 32 and 0 season.

The day before, on March 14th, WFMY’s general manager Gaines Kelley had announced the station would follow Carolina in both its East regional games.  (In those days the first-round loser played a consolation game the next day.)  Said Kelley: “We at WFMY-TV are as proud of the Tar Heels as anybody else, and we are happy to be able to give fans in our coverage area a chance to see the game on live television.”  The Greensboro station had a special interest in carrying the UNC games because WFMY-TV produced the weekly Frank McGuire Show.

This regional NCAA network had been set up by station WPFH-TV in Wilmington, Delaware with Matt Koukas, a former Philadelphia Warrior NBA star, doing the play-by-play.  Of course the NCAA was in full control of the telecasts with their man, Castleman D. Chesley, leading the broadcast team.  Other North Carolina TV stations on the network included WBTV in Charlotte, and WTVD in Durham.

The undefeated Tar Heels were 28-0 and Coach Frank McGuire, upon arrival in Philadelphia, told the press, “This is a road club . . . winning 21 games on the road.”  The coach was then reminded that it was really only 20 road games.  McGuire added: “But I still count McCrary as a game because nobody can tell me that we didn’t have a really tough night down there in Asheboro.”

Road wins continued as the Tar Heels beat Canisius that Friday night and then beat Syracuse the following night.  It was on to Kansas City, Missouri for the final four (although it wasn’t called “The Final Four” in those days.)  Carolina was 30 and 0 going into Kansas City, but it hadn’t always been easy.  There had been close overtime games at South Carolina and Maryland—and then there was Murray Greason’s Wake Forest Demon Deacons.  The Tar Heels and Deacons had met four times during the 1956-57 season and each one had been close.  Two regular season games, a game in the Dixie Classic, and a two-point game in the ACC Tournament.  Coach Frank McGuire had great respect for Wake and he often spoke of it in interviews.

Before the games in Philadelphia started, C.D. Chesley was already working on a NCAA network for Kansas City.  On Wednesday, March 20, WFMY General Manager Kelley made another announcement.  Again Chesley had put together a network of five North Carolina TV stations for the games in Kansas City, and WFMY, WBTV, and WTVD would be a part of it.  He added that his Sports Director Charlie Harville and his Chief Photographer Buddy Moore would be traveling with the Tar Heels.  Kelley also liked to plug his game sponsors which were Carolina Steel, Guilford Dairy, and Security National Bank.

Hugh Morton didn’t travel to Kansas City for the championship weekend, but when he heard that the games were going to be on TV, and since the coverage area didn’t extend to the North Carolina coast, he and wife Julia headed to Raleigh, checked into the Sir Walter Hotel and watched the games there.

Both the National Semifinal with Michigan State and the National Final with 7-foot, 2-inch Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas in Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium turned out to be classics.  Triple overtimes each night, with UNC Center Joe Quigg hitting two foul shots with six seconds remaining in the final overtime against Dick Harp’s Kansas Jayhawks to win the National Championship. The telecast had some other memorable moments.  At halftime, WFMY-TV Sports Director Charlie Harville interviewed North Carolina Governor Luther Hodges, who predicted a Carolina win. Hodges had flown in along with his private secretary Ed Rankin, Lt. Governor Luther Barnhardt, and several other members of the NC legislature.  Their flight, on a DC-3 owned by Burlington Industries, left Raleigh-Durham Airport at nine o’clock on Saturday morning.  A police escort met the Governor’s party at the Mid-Continent International Airport and took them to a Tar Heel gathering at Hotel Continental in downtown Kansas City.  Then it was off to Municipal Auditorium where they joined 10,500 other fans.

Back in the WFMY-TV studios in Greensboro, staff announcer Lee Kinard, who had been with the station less than a year, prepared to do his live Guilford Dairy commercial.  Kinard recalls the sponsor wanted the commercial to feature ice cream, but under the hot TV lights, ice cream didn’t hold up very well, and since there were no TV-times-outs in those days, the Greensboro crew didn’t know when the commercial was going to come.  Said Kinard, “We kept putting out fresh ice cream and it just kept melting during those three overtimes.”

Lee Kinard would go on to become a legendary hall of fame broadcaster with a career spanning more than 45 years.

Following the broadcasts, both radio and TV, a celebration broke out on Franklin Street with thousands of students and alumni.

Chapel Hill author and historian Roland Giduz writing a special report for the Greensboro Daily News described what he saw along Franklin Street:

A zany bedlam enveloped this usually quiet college community shortly past the stroke of midnight…The celebration was the biggest in Chapel Hill since the night before—following the Tar Heels’ triple-overtime win over Michigan State.  And the latter was the wildest spontaneous rally local officials could recall since V-J night 12 years ago.

Crowd at Raleigh Durham Airport greeting the UNC men's basketball team after winning the NCAA championship.

Crowd at Raleigh Durham Airport awaiting the UNC men's basketball team after winning the NCAA championship (P081_PRBP5_006878).

The celebration in Chapel Hill wasn’t close to the size of the one at Raleigh-Durham Airport.  About 2:10 p.m. on Sunday, March 24, 1957, Eastern Airlines Flight 527 was on final approach to RDU when the pilots got a message from the tower: “Go around while the police clear the runway.”  About 15,000 Tar Heel well-wishers had gathered to welcome the 32 and 0 Tar Heels home.  Among the 15,000 was photographer Hugh Morton with camera in hand.

UNC 1957 Basketball team deplaning at RDUAbout 15 minutes later the Eastern DC-7 carrying the victorious Tar Heels landed to thunderous cheers.  Coach McGuire and team captain Lennie Rosenbluth were not part of the celebration.  Rosenbluth was headed to New York as a member of the Look magazine All America team, which was scheduled to be on “The Ed Sullivan Show” that night. Coach McGuire had been on the “Sullivan Show” the Sunday before as the United Press national coach of the year.  This weekend he stayed in Kansas City to coach in the All-Star game with his old buddy, Navy Head Coach Ben Carnevale, as his assistant. (Carnevale was UNC’s Head Basketball Coach from 1944 to 1946.)  Rosenbluth was to fly back in time for the Monday night All-Star game.

In the middle of the crowd at RDU was UNC Chancellor Robert B. House who had a speech prepared, but wasn’t able to give it because of the noise.  About thirty minutes later, the Hodges’ group landed.  Said the Governor: “It was great but I don’t think I could take another game like that one.”

While Coach Frank McGuire was in Philadelphia for the Eastern Regional, he had received a special telegram from back home.  He read it to his team before the Eastern Regional final with Syracuse.  He then put it in his jacket pocket. He carried it with him to Kansas City and decided to read it again before the NCAA final game with Kansas.

The telegram read:

Best wishes and all the luck in the world.  You proved it to us; now prove it to the nation.

It was signed by each member of the Wake Forest basketball team, Head Coach Murray Greason and Assistant Coach Bones McKinney.  In the early morning hours of Sunday, March 24th, the victory bell in the old Wake Forest administration building rang out celebrating the Tar Heel win.

And, as for Jack Markham and that career day at ASH . . . well six years later Markham had risen to program director and production manager and in January of 1963 he hired a young UNC grad as a production assistant at WFMY-TV.  I would work there for 42 years.

For more photographs from the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives of the UNC 1956-1957 basketball season, visit the webpage McGuire’s Miracle.

Photographs from the 1942 Southern Conference Tournament

Today’s post is the third and final on the 1942 Southern Conference Basketball Tournament, which we have been featuring on its seventieth anniversary in conjunction with the fifty-ninth annual Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament taking place March 8th through 11th, 2012.

Some of the photographs shown below are not available in the online collection of Hugh Morton’s photographs at the time of this posting.  They will be added to the collection in the future.  Those images that are available in the collection can be seen without cropping by clicking on the image.

Many of the people portrayed in these photographs are unidentified.  If you can provide any identifications please leave a comment!

Duke bench during games versus Washington and Lee, March 5th, 1942.

Duke bench during game against Washington and Lee

Members of the Duke University men's basketball team and head coach Edmund "Eddie" Cameron seated on sideline. Labeled "For 2003 reprint book." A similar photograph of Cameron with different players appears in the March 6, 1942 issue of THE CHARLOTTE NEWS, so the event is likely the Southern Conference basketball tournament game versus Washington and Lee at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium played on March 5th.

UNC bench during game against Wake Forest, March 5th, 1942.

UNC bench during 1942 Southern Conference Tournament game against Wake Forest College

UNC men's basketball players and coach Bill Lange on sidelines during basketball game, probably 1942 Southern Conference tournament game versus Wake Forest at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, NC. (Identification of location based upon the above similar photograph of Duke's bench made from same vantage point.)

North Carolina Sate versus University of South Carolina, March 5th, 1942.

North Carolina State versus University of South Carolina game

Action from the North Carolina State versus University of South Carolina game, March 5th, 1942. (P081_NTBS3_006368)

College of William and Mary versus George Washington University, March 5th 1942.

William and Mary versus George Washington University

A struggle for possession during the William and Mary versus George Washington University opening round game played on March 5th 1942.

Bench photographs of unidentified teams, players, or coaches

William and Mary players and coach

William and Mary players and coach (P081_NTBS3_006370). Note the photographer (perhaps!) on the right side of the image, seated next to what looks to be a camera with mounted flash unit.

 

Unidentified team, 1942 Southern Tournament

Unidentified team and coach (P081_NTBS3_006371).

George Washington University players and coach during 1942 Southern Conference Tournament

George Washington University players and coach during 1942 Southern Conference Tournament (P081_NTBS3_006369).

Duke versus Wake Forest, March 6th, 1942.

Duke versus Wake Forest during 1942 Southern Conference Tournament

Scene from the Wake Forest College vs. Duke University game. Morton's photograph (cropped to show only three players on left) appears in the 8 March 1942 edition of the WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL AND SENTINEL with caption, "Gantt on the Lose—Big Bob Gantt, one of those five flaming Duke sophs, is shown here breaking down the court during the Wake Forest game Friday night. He had just taken the ball off the Wake backboard and is en route to his as Jim Bonds, deacon forward, partially blocks his way. Garland Loftis of Duke is the other player. Duke won 54–45."

 North Carolina State versus William and Mary, March 7th, 1942.

Weary Bones McKinney

This photograph captures Horace "Bones" McKinney on floor with towel during N.C. State University game versus William and Mary in the tournament semifinal. This photograph (or one made within a split second) is similarly cropped as it appeared in the CHARLOTTE NEWS with the caption, "WEARY BONES McKINNEY was glad to stretch out on the floor during a time out last night as his N. C. State ball club fought off a last-minute rally by William and Mary and came out with a 53-52 victory that sent the Terrors into the tourney title-round for the first time since it was moved to Raleigh in 1933." Click on the image to see the full negative.

 

McKinney hoists Carvalho

This Morton photograph appeared in the WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL AND SENTINEL with the caption “Clown Prince Gets Happy—Bones McKinney, tall N. C. State center, hoists Little Buckwheat Carvalho after the Terrors had beaten William and Mary in the semifinals of the conference tourney, 53-52. Bones was the top scorer in the loop this year with 300 points.” Little Buckwheat’s real first name was Paul. (P081_NTBS3_006374)

Championship game, Duke versus North Carolina State, March 7th, 1942.

Duke versus NCSU 1942 Southern Conference Tournament

Cropped view from the only surviving negative of an action shot made during the Duke versus North Carolina State championship game to be discovered thus far in the Morton Collection (P081_NTBS3_006375). The entire negative as shot can be seen below. See the previous blog post for Morton's published photograph of the Duke team and fans after receiving the tournament trophy.

Duke versus NCSU (not cropped)

In the shadows of greatness . . . on the shoulders of giants

1942 Southern Conference Queen

Anne Geoghegan, 1942 Southern Conference basketball tournament queen.

Today’s post is by frequent contributor Jack Hilliard and is the second post on the 1942 Southern Conference Basketball Tournament

Background: When the 59th annual Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament tips off at noon on March 8th in Atlanta’s Philips Arena, the players and coaches of the twelve teams (soon to be fourteen) will be playing “in the shadows of greatness and on the shoulders of giants.”  Not only have the fifty-eight previous tournaments and players set a high standard, but the ACC’s parent conference, the Southern Intercollegiate Conference, played at an equally high standard for thirty-two seasons.

The Southern Intercollegiate Conference, or Southern Conference as it has been called over the years, or SoCon as it is often called today, was founded on February 25, 1921 when representatives from 14 of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s (SIAA) 30 member institutions met at the Piedmont Hotel in Atlanta.  Among the fourteen member schools were North Carolina State and the University of North Carolina. The decision to form a new conference was motivated in part by the desire to have a workable number of games by each member school.  It was impossible for the thirty member schools in the SIAA to play each other each year.  (Does that sound familiar Carolina and State fans?)

Play began in the Southern Conference in the fall of 1921 and men’s basketball was the first sport to hold a tournament.  The inaugural tournament was held in Atlanta’s Municipal Auditorium and was won by North Carolina.  Monk McDonald and Billy Carmichael led Carolina as they won five tournament games to claim the championship.

An interesting side note: Carolina went without a head coach during the 1921–22 and 1922–23 seasons because Fred Boye left after one year and they could not find a replacement.  Bob Fetzer, who coached football and baseball for North Carolina, would often accompany the team on road games but would sit in the stands.  Carolina would win seven more Southern Conference championships.  Duke joined the Southern Conference in 1928 and won its first of five tournaments in 1938.  NC State won its first tournament in 1929.

At the Southern Conference annual meeting on December 9, 1932, Dr. S.V. Sanford of the University of Georgia announced that thirteen of the then twenty-three Southern Conference schools would be forming the Southeastern Conference thus leaving the Southern Conference with ten members.  Wake Forest joined in 1936 and by 1942 there were sixteen teams.

A side note from the editor: an organization named the Naismith Memorial Committee dubbed the period of December 1941 to December 1942 as the “golden jubilee of basketball”—which was really their capital campaign to raise funds for the construction of a monument to honor basketball’s founder James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts.  The effort was delayed in the face of World War II, but it was an early effort to establish what is now the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Duke basketball team after winning the 1942 Southern Conference Tournament.

This Morton photograph appeared in THE CHARLOTTE NEWS, captioned "DUKE'S HAPPINESS BOYS with another basketball title: Clyde Allen, Garland Loftis, captain Ray Spuhler, Cedric Loftis, Bill McCahan, Sam Rothbaum, Coach Eddie Cameron. They grinned about the trophy, but they knew it was coming all the time."

1942 Southern Conference Basketball Tournament:  The Southern Conference held its 1942 basketball tournament in Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium with its top eight teams.  On March 5th, 1942, the 21st Southern Conference Tournament tipped off with Duke playing Washington and Lee.  Greensboro Daily News sportswriter Frank Gilbreth’s lead sentence on March first was:  “Washington and Lee’s Generals today drew the suicide assignment of playing top-seeded Duke . . . in the opening round of the Southern Conference Basketball Tournament.”  The Duke–W&L game was followed by UNC vs. Wake Forest, and North Carolina State vs. South Carolina.  Yesterday’s post feature a photograph from the USC–State contest.  Duke prevailed in its contest, and the Deacons, led by Herb Cline upset the UNC White Phantoms 32-26.

UNC versus Wake Forest College in the 1942 Southern Conference Tournamant

Herb Cline of Wake Forest College and UNC's Reid Suggs during in the opening round of the 1942 Southern Conference Tournament

Two days later, Duke and NC State squared off in the finals with Duke winning its third Southern Conference Tournament.  Clyde Allen, Duke’s veteran center and Hap Spuhler led the boys from Durham, while the star of the North Carolina State “Red Terrors” (as they were called then) was Horace Albert “Bones” McKinney—easily the most memorable player in the ’42 tournament.  McKinney would go on to play for UNC after the war, and later coach at Wake Forest.  And he even had a Duke connection: McKinney played for Durham High where three of his teammates (Bob Gantt, Garland Loftis, and Cedric Loftis) went on to play for Duke in 1942.

Horace "Bones" McKinney drinking from a ladle at the 1942 Southern Conference Tournament

Horace "Bones" McKinney drinking from a ladle at the 1942 Southern Conference Tournament.

Several of Hugh Morton’s images from the ’42 tournament—featured throughout this post—appeared in newspapers thought the state, including the Charlotte News, Greensboro Daily News, Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel, and, of course, the UNC student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. In future years, Morton would become a permanent fixture courtside at Southern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference tournaments well into the 2000s.

Southern Conference . . . Atlantic Coast Conference:  Basketball in North Carolina changed forever in 1946 with the arrival of Everett Case at North Carolina State.  Starting in 1947 and continuing through the 1952 season, Case won six straight Southern Conference Tournaments.  Names like Dick Dickey, Vic Molodet, Ronnie Shavlik, Lou Pucillo, Cliff Dwyer, Sam Ranzino became familiar to almost everyone in the state.  It was a magical time in Raleigh.  State beat Carolina fourteen times between 1947 and 1952.

Enter Frank Joseph McGuire.  Coach McGuire was given two challenges when he came into Chapel Hill in 1952: beat State, then beat everybody else.  He did both.  On January 24, 1953 he finally broke the long losing streak by beating NC State 70-69.

Later, in the spring of 1953, there was another conference meeting.  This one at the Sedgefield Inn in Greensboro on April 8th, and yet another change for the Southern Conference was in order.  By then the conference had grown to seventeen teams so seven members withdrew to form what would become the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Among the seven were Carolina, Duke, Wake, and State.  And four seasons later, Frank McGuire was able to overcome the second part of that challenge by beating everybody else.  It’s often called “McGuire’s Miracle.”  During the 1956-57 season UNC won 32 games and a national championship.  New “giants” made the news: Lennie Rosenbluth, Pete Brennan, Joe Quigg, Bob Cunningham, and Tommy Kearns.  Plenty more from teams in North Carolina would follow, with NC State’s National Championships in 1974 and 1983, Duke’s in 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, and UNC’s 1924, 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009.

Who knows what “March Madness” will bring in 2012?