A call to the Hall for coach Mack Brown

Editor’s Note

This post is a follow-up to the post, “Mack Brown’s Return to Kenan Stadium” published on September 11 earlier this year.  As we were preparing today’s post honoring Mack Brown for his induction into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame, UNC and Chancellor Carol Folt and Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham announced during a noontime press conference on November 27 that Brown will return to coaching duties for Carolina.  Brown then stepped to the podium and addressed the gathered media. “Sally and I love North Carolina, we love this University and we are thrilled to be back.  The best part of coaching is the players—building relationships, building confidence, and ultimately seeing them build success on and off the field.  We can’t to wait to meet our current student-athletes and reconnect with friends, alumni and fellow Tar Heel coaches.”

On December 4, 2018, former Head Football Coach Mack Brown will become the twelfth UNC Tar Heel and the twenty-second Texas Longhorn to be inducted into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame. The dinner ceremony from 8:30 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. EST can be watched via a livestream on ESPN3.  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look at Brown’s thirty-year head coaching career.

Sally and Mack Brown

Sally and Mack Brown, date unknown, scanned from a photographic print by Hugh Morton.

When it’s all over, your career will not be judged by the money you made or the championships you won. It will be measured by the lives you touched. And that is why we coach.  —Mack Brown in One Heartbeat (2001), page 173.

Mack Brown

Mack Brown during his years coaching UNC , from an undated photographic print by Hugh Morton collection.

It was November 18, 1989.  Tar Heel head football coach Mack Brown had just suffered one of the worst defeats of his entire coaching career at the end of a second 1-and-10 season. But Brown felt a personal obligation to come back up on the Kenan Stadium field because the Raycom TV crew wanted one more seasoning-ending interview.  By the time Brown finished his locker room and media conference duties, the late November sun was setting far beyond the west end of the historic stadium, and most all of the 46,000 fans who had filled the stands earlier had headed home.  About midway through the interview, Brown was distracted by cheering from the far end zone.  He turned and looked.  What he saw was unbelievable.  Duke head coach Steve Spurrier had come out of the visitor dressing room and assembled his team around the still-lighted scoreboard, which read 41 to 0.  The Blue Devil photographers were snapping away.  Brown paused for several seconds, and then said, “We’ll remember that.” Coach Brown never lost again to Duke University during his entire coaching career.

Mack Brown began his successful head-coaching career at Appalachian State in 1983, leading the Mountaineers to a 6-5 record—their first winning season in four years.  Then following a successful season as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma under Hall of Fame coach Barry Switzer, he became the head coach and athletic director at Tulane in 1985, where he led the Green Wave to a 6-6 record in his final season in 1987 and earned a trip to the Independence Bowl.  It was only the fifth bowl appearance for Tulane since 1940.

Following his time at Tulane, Brown was hired by UNC Athletic Director John Swofford, just in time for the big 100th anniversary of Carolina football during the 1988 season. But those first two seasons at Carolina were dreadful, showing only two wins and twenty losses.  With the 1990 season, however, things were turned around and during the next eight seasons, Brown added sixty-seven additional wins—tied for the second most victories in school history.  The team was bowl-bound every year beginning in 1992, including a win in the 1993 Peach Bowl.  The Atlantic Coast Conference named Brown ACC Coach of the Year in 1996.  Brown led Carolina to three ten-win seasons, while the team finished in the top twenty-five four times, including tenth in 1996 and fourth in 1997.

During his time in Chapel Hill, Brown became good friends with Hugh Morton and visited often at Grandfather Mountain. In fact, Brown built a home there.  And he was instrumental in the construction of another home . . . this one in Chapel Hill and it goes by the name Frank H. Kenan Football Center, completed in 1997.

Mack Brown, Hugh Morton, Woody Durham

Mack Brown, Hugh Morton, and long-time “Voice of the Tar Heels” Woody Durham together during a picnic in 1994.

It was Saturday, September 13, 1997.  Carolina was hosting a late afternoon game with Stanford.  Coach Brown and one of his assistants, Cleve Bryant, who had been an assistant at Texas, were on the Kenan field watching the Tar Heels warm up, when on the stadium public address system, announcer Dave Lohse started giving some scores from the early games.  He then gave a halftime score: UCLA 38, Texas 0.

Said Bryant, “that can’t be right.”  Coach Brown didn’t pay much attention; he was intent on the game at hand.  About two hours later, up in the Kenan press box, UNC Sports Information Director Rick Brewer handed some final scores to announcer Lohse.  As he did so, he said. “I think we just lost our football coach.”  Brewer was fully aware of Brown’s admiration for Texas football history and tradition.  Lohse then read the final score: UCLA 66, Texas 3.  When Bryant heard that score, he turned to Brown and said, “I wouldn’t want to be in Austin, Texas tonight.”  From that moment, for the next eighty-four days, speculation was rampant: would Mack Brown leave a place he dearly loved, for an opportunity of a lifetime?  Finally, on Wednesday, December 3, 1997 it became official: Mack Brown would be the new head football coach at the University of Texas.

Mack Brown wearing Texas jacket

Portrait of Mack Brown by Hugh Morton, undated, wearing a University of Texas jacket.

Coach Brown’s time in Austin was legendary.  His 158 career Texas wins are second only to Hall of Fame Coach Darrell Royal in Longhorn history.  During the 2005 season, Brown guided Texas to its first national championship in 35 years after defeating Southern California in the 2006 Rose Bowl in one of the greatest games in college football history.  In 2009, Brown became Big 12 Coach of the Year while winning his second conference title. He would become a two-time National Coach of the Year and won more than 10 games in 9 consecutive seasons. He also won 10 bowl games while in Texas.

Over his 30-year-coaching-career, Brown coached 37 First Team All-Americas, 6 Academic All-Americas, 110 first team all-conference selections and 11 conference Players of the Year.  He also coached 2 College Football Hall of Famers in Tar Heel Dre Bly and Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams at Texas; and 4 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athletes, including Campbell Trophy winners Sam Acho and Dallas Griffin also at Texas. Brown posted 20 consecutive winning seasons from 1990 to 2009 and his 225 wins from 1990 to 2013 were the most among Football Bowl Subdivision coaches during those years. He has a total of 244 wins—tenth most by a coach in FBS history.  He led teams to 22 bowl games.

Among his personal honors, Brown is a member of the Texas Longhorns Hall of Honor.  He is also enshrined in the Rose Bowl, State of Texas Sports, State of Tennessee Sports and Holiday Bowl halls of fame.  Until November 27th, he served as a college football studio and game analyst at ESPN and served as a special assistant at Texas.

Mack Brown and wife, Sally, have helped raise millions of dollars for children’s charities, and Mack was recently named the Football Bowl Association’s Champions Award recipient for 2019.  He was also honored in the Blue Zone at Kenan Stadium on Saturday, August 12, 2018 for his upcoming December 4th induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Toward the end of the Blue Zone ceremony, Brown came to the podium and acknowledged many Tar Heels in the audience. There was John Swofford, the Carolina athletic director who hired him and then after those 1-10 seasons gave him a contract extension. There were former assistant coaches Darrell Moody and Dan Brooks, who had been so very important in those early recruiting efforts.  And there were former Tar Heels from eras before Brown arrived as a 36-year-old head coach.  “You guys were the ones who made this place special and gave us something we could sell,” Brown said.

There were about fifty Tar Heels present from Brown’s time in Chapel Hill. Also in attendance was UNC 1970 All-America Don McCauley who is also a College Football Hall of Famer, Class of 2001.

“I’m not going into the Hall of Fame, I am presenting you all in the Hall of Fame.  Football is the ultimate team sport, and no one person is ever the one that wins a football game. When I take that oath in December and I say ‘thank you’ to the Hall of Fame, I’m doing it for each one of you.  Your name in my mind will be in the Hall of Fame forever.”  Carolina Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham added, “Brown’s legacy wasn’t just about winning; it was about developing young men to be successful after football.”

Part of the celebration was a panel discussion with several former Tar Heel players talking about Brown and his Chapel Hill legacy.  One of those players was fellow Hall of Famer Dre Bly who spoke of getting a sideline dressing down in his first game as a Tar Heel in the 1996 season opener against Clemson, a 45-0 Tar Heel landslide.

“The play was on our sidelines, a ball into the flat.  I made a big hit.  I was high-stepping and celebrating. Coach Brown grabbed my facemask and had a few select words for me. He said, ‘We don’t do that here.’ I knew then and there, I had to remain humble.  I learned the importance of being humble.  I saw the big picture, I understood what’s important.  We had a very talented team.  I couldn’t be the one to mess it up.  I needed to remain humble, and I’ve used that my whole life.” (I wish the UNC head football coaches that followed Brown would have maintained that same high standard.)

I believe it’s safe to say, whether you view it as Burnt Orange or Carolina Blue, Brown’s legacy is secure, and on Tuesday night, December 4, 2018, he will stand for the administration of his induction as the citation of his accomplishments is read—this year in the Trianon Ballroom of the New York Hilton Midtown, just as coach Darrell Royal and Bobby Layne of Texas and coach Carl Snavely and Charlie Justice of Carolina stood years before in the Grand Ballroom of the historic Waldorf-Astoria—as William Mack Brown will be honored as a new member of the College Football Hall of Fame.  Coach Brown will make the official response on behalf of the 2018 College Football Hall of Fame Class.

A golden celebration

Clipping from the Asheville Citizen

Clipping from The Asheville Citizen, November 24, 1943, page 11.

Prolog:

Ten days after future UNC football legend Charlie Justice led his undefeated Bainbridge Naval Training Station football team to a 46-to-0 win over the University of Maryland, he went on a well-deserved leave. At the same time, Sarah Alice Hunter took a brief leave from her job at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D. C.  The two headed back home to Asheville, North Carolina where they were married at Trinity Episcopal Church.

During the next 59 years, 10 months, and 23 days, Charlie Justice would be interviewed numerous times.  During most of those interviews, he would, at some point, say “the best thing I ever did was to ask Sarah to marry me.”

Intro:

They played the 80th meeting between Carolina and Duke on November 26, 1993—a chilly, gray Friday morning—at 11 o’clock.  My guess is that ABC-TV wanted it played on that day at that time.  As it turned out, that was a good thing because the game ended about 2:30 PM, in plenty of time for a very special celebration in “the living room of the University” across campus.

Today, on the day Charlie and Sarah Justice would have celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary, Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back 25 years at their 50th celebration.

A few minutes after Carolina beat Duke 38 to 24 in the 1993 edition of their annual in-state rivalry, (thanks to freshman running back Leon Johnson’s 142-yard-and-4-touchdown day), many of us headed across campus to the historic Carolina Inn, where family and friends of the special couple were gathering.  Although Charlie and Sarah Justice’s fiftieth wedding anniversary was actually on November 23rd, game day on the 26th seemed like a good time to celebrate the storybook event of November 23rd, 1943.

In addition to celebrating the Justice’s fiftieth anniversary, the event also honored the memory of their son Charles Ronald (Ronnie), who had passed away on Friday, June 11, 1993 at their home in Flat Rock, North Carolina.

This is how the Justice’s chose to invite their guests:

Invitation to Justice's 50th anniversary

There were family members, teammates, friends, and fans in attendance.

The Carolina Inn ballroom provided the perfect backdrop for the elegant event and the many guests surrounded a large buffet table with roast beef, salmon, fruits, and cheeses. The centerpiece was a large ice sculpture depicting a locomotive celebrating Charlie’s football career when he was called “Choo Choo.”

Morton negatives of Justice anniversary

A view of Hugh Morton’s negatives placed on a light box, inverted so they can be seen as positives, that he made during the Sarah and Charlie Justice 50th anniversary celebration. The image in the foreground is an ice sculpture of a “Choo Choo” train.

At the right side of the room was a video player and large screen where highlights of Charlie and Sarah’s fifty years together were shown.  I had the honor of producing that video presentation which was narrated by North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame broadcaster Charlie Harville.

Following a family toast by Barbara (Justice) Crews, Charlie and Sarah’s daughter, head football coach Mack Brown added his congratulations and then offered an additional toast. He then spoke of the importance of Carolina’s football history and heritage.  After Brown concluded his words about Carolina’s Golden Age during the late 1940s, Justice stepped forward and thanked the coach for restoring football respectability “for my University.”

During the entire celebration, photographer Hugh Morton was there documenting every phase of the event: from a group shot of the Justice team mates to a funny shot of Charlie and Sarah holding up special tee shirts prepared for the party, a shot that appeared in the February, 1994 edition of The University Alumni Report newspaper on page 34.

Sarah and Charlie Justice holding tee shirts, with Art Weiner

Sarah and Charlie Justice display their “wears” as Charlie’s UNC teammate Art Weiner stands by with a supportive hand.

So, on this day, November 23, 2018, I choose to believe that Charlie and Sarah Justice are once again celebrating their storybook life together on their 75th wedding anniversary. Joining the celebration is son Ronnie, and just as he was 25 years ago, Hugh Morton is there with camera in hand.

A priceless gem for only ten bucks

Spangler with Justice's torn jersey

UNC President C.D. Spangler standing outside the President’s house on UNC-Chapel Hill campus, February 23, 1988, holding a ripped #22 jersey worn by UNC football player Charlie Justice during the 1948 game against Virginia.

Today, October 27th, UNC head football coach Larry Fedora leads his 2018 Tar Heels into historic Scott Stadium for a continuation of “the South’s Oldest Rivalry.”  This game between the University of North Carolina and the University of Virginia marks the 123rd meeting between the two old rivals. Over the years, since the first meeting between the two in 1892, Carolina has won sixty-four times while UVA has won fifty-four; four games ended in a tie.  Of the fifty times Carolina has played UVA on the road, the game in 1948 not only provided Carolina with a highly significant win, it also provided an interesting sidebar story.  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at the game in Scott Stadium on November 27, 1948 between the Tar Heels and the Cavaliers.

Arguably the best UNC football team was the 1948 squad that finished the season undefeated and ranked third in the Associated Press poll. The ’48 Tar Heels started off the season at home with a historic win over the University of Texas, 34 to 7. (Many old-time Tar Heels still like to talk about this game.)

The weekend following the Texas win, Charlie Justice had his best day as a Tar Heel down in Georgia with a win over the Bulldogs. Then came wins over Wake Forest, NC State, LSU, and Tennessee.  A tie with William & Mary on November 6th was the only blemish on the ‘48 schedule.  Following wins over Maryland and Duke, it was time to close out the historic season—a season that had seen Carolina ranked number one for the first and only time.

With bowl talk in the air, Head Coach Carl Snavely took his team into Scott Stadium for that finale.  An overflow crowd of 26,000+ turned out on November 27, 1948, a day that could have very easily been called “Charlie Justice Day.”  Here’s why:

  • He got off runs of twenty-two and eight yards in the initial Carolina touchdown drive.
  • He passed thirty-nine yards to receiver Art Weiner for the second Tar Heel score.
  • He cut off left guard on a delayed spinner and outran the field to cross the Virginia goal eighty yards away.
  • He passed thirty-one yards to end Bob Cox for Carolina’s fourth touchdown.
  • He returned a UVA punt, in a straight line, fifty yards for Carolina’s final touchdown of the day.

In summary: Justice carried the ball fifteen times for a net total of 159 yards—that’s almost 11 yards per carry. He completed four of seven passes for 87 yards.  He returned two punts for sixty-six yards. He punted five times for a 40.8 yards per punt average. And oh yes, he intercepted a Virginia pass, had a 49-yard touchdown pass called back as well as a 21-yard run. Needless to say, Carolina won the game 34 to 12 and went on to play in the 1949 Sugar Bowl.

Among those 26,000+ fans in Scott Stadium that afternoon was an eleventh grade student at Woodberry Forest, a prep school in Madison, Virginia.  His name, Clemmie Dixon Spangler, Jr. from Charlotte, North Carolina.  Spangler, along with several of his school buddies, had made the trip over to Charlottesville for the game. (Clemmie Dixon Spangler, Jr. would become known as C.D. Spangler, Jr. and would lead the University of North Carolina system from 1986 until 1997.)

On one of those great Charlie Justice plays mentioned above, Justice’s #22 jersey was torn. He came over to the Carolina sideline where equipment manager, “Sarge” Keller, quickly got out a new one . . . tossing the torn one over behind the bench into an equipment trunk.  In a 1996 interview with A.J Carr of Raleigh’s News & Observer, Spangler described the 1948 Charlottesville scene:

“Charlie was a hero of mine.  It was one of his greatest college games.  On one play, a linebacker grabbed him, but he twisted away as he often did, ran another 10-15 yards and his jersey was torn.”

“He came over, the trainer helped him put on another and they put the torn one in the trunk. I said: ‘That old jersey would be nice to have.’”

After the game, Spangler got the attention of a Carolina cheerleader and explained that he wanted the Justice jersey.  He then offered the cheerleader ten dollars to go and get the jersey out of the trunk. The deal was completed and as Spangler walked out of the stadium, some Carolina fans offered him one hundred dollars. Spangler said, “No deal.”

He displayed the jersey on the wall while in high school and after graduation he kept it in a “safe place.”

“I wouldn’t take anything for it,” Spangler continued. “It’s a piece of history that meant something to me.”

“My mother offered to wash it and sew it. But I said we would not wash it, that we’d keep the lime marks and grass stains and leave it torn.”

“(Charlie Justice) is very symbolic of someone who did well, was a hero and he lived a really good life.  He lived up to all expectations and has been a fine representative for North Carolina,” Spangler added as he closed the interview.

contents of Machine Print Envelope 2.6.398-10-9

Photographs of Charlie Justice and C.D. Spangler stored in Machine Print Envelope 2.6.398-10-9. One of the prints has a caption typed on the back with the ubiquitous stamp, “PHOTOGRAPH BY HUGH MORTON.”

Spangler kept the prized memento for more than fifty years. Then, on November 18, 1989, during halftime of the Carolina–Duke game, he presented the jersey to then UNC Athletic Director Dick Baddour.  It is now on display in the Charlie Justice Hall of Honor at the Kenan Football Center.

Justice and Spangler autographed photograph

A mounted color photograph autographed by Justice and Spangler, located in Oversize Box 2 in the Hugh Morton collection

Morton also used the images in his slides shows, saying: “…the only university president who freely admits to bribery and stealing.”

Contents from Machine Print Envelope 2.6.398-10-6.

Photographs and negatives from Machine Print Envelope 2.6.398-10-6. The envelope contains negatives from two rolls of film, one of which is seen here on the left. The negative for the print with Justice and Spangler standing next to the torn jersey exhibit case is not in the envelope. It would fit sequentially in the space seen next to the upper right corner of the print. Above that print, on Spangler’s right is Julia Morton; to his left is Betty Kenan.

On April 30, 1984, the Charlotte chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation staged a Charlie Justice Celebrity Roast and one of the roasters was Justice’s dear friend, teammate, and business partner Art Weiner.  One of Weiner’s roast stories went something like this:

We knew that Charlie was competing with SMU’s great All America Doak Walker for the 1948 Heisman Memorial Trophy.  When we read in the papers that Walker had a jersey torn up during one his games, we decided, in the huddle, to tear up one of Charlie’s . . . just to make things look equal.  But on November 27, 1948, the tear was for real and C.D. Spangler, Jr. got a “Priceless Gem for Only 10 Bucks.”

Mack Brown’s return to Kenan Stadium

Mack Brown, September 14, 2002.

Mack Brown, University of Texas head football coach, at Kenan Stadium on September 14, 2002.

Last month, on August 11, 2018, former UNC head football coach Mack Brown revisited Chapel Hill and Kenan Stadium, where he had roamed the sidelines for ten seasons from 1988 through the 1997.  The occasion for Brown’s recent return was a celebratory dinner with about fifty Tar Heels from his UNC days, held in the stadium’s Blue Zone, in honor of his selection into the College Football Hall of Fame.  The hall announced its 2018 College Football Hall of Fame Class announced back in January, and will hold its induction ceremony on December 4 in New York City.

Brown’s August visit was not first time back to Chapel Hill after his final UNC football season. Morton Collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back to September 14, 2002—a visit by Brown that many Tar Heel fans still recall.

The headline in the Saturday, September 14, 2002 edition of the Greensboro News & Record read “Tar Heels hope to catch Texas off guard again.”  Sports writer Larry Keech recounted the famous Carolina–Texas game from 1948 when the Tar Heels beat the Longhorns 34 to 7.  Keech interviewed Tar Heel All-America Art Weiner and he recalled that day in September of 1948 when he and teammate Charlie Justice made UNC history.  Keech closed his story by saying, “If history is to repeat, it will be up to UNC quarterback Darian Durant and receiver Sam Aiken to do their best Justice and Weiner impersonations.”

When Texas head coach Mack Brown and his nationally ranked #3 Texas Longhorns took the field shortly before 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 14, 2002, a few boos were heard from the Tar Heel faithful in the Kenan crowd of 60,500—the second largest in Kenan to date. I remember my disappointment at those boos.  I chose to believe they were directed at a Tar Heel opponent, not at Coach Brown.  It was estimated that there were 5,000 Texas fans in the sold-out crowd.

Kenan Stadium during Texas versus UNC football game

Kenan Stadium during the the second quarter, the scoreboard showing Texas with a 17-to-0 lead over UNC.

By the end of the first quarter, and trailing 10 to 0, the chances of that “repeat-history” seemed to be getting farther away.  Carolina finally scored in the second quarter but trailed 24 to 7 at the half.  That “repeat-history” was now . . . history.  There was just too much Texas.  Each team scored in the third quarter, but Texas poured it on with 21 points in the fourth.  The final score was 52 to 21, Texas.

Following the win, Coach Brown hugged his players and looked toward those Texas fans as he held up the famous “Hook ‘em Horns” sign. The Texas band then played “The Eyes of Texas.”  The Tar Heel hype for this game by now was forgotten. Texas was ranked #3 for a reason.  They were that good.

Following the Mack Brown–John Bunting handshake at midfield, Coach Brown walked into the atrium of the old Kenan Field House at Kenan Stadium, a room in which he was totally familiar. He was set to address the media.

“I’ve never seen a team play that hard down 31 to 14.  The crowd was in it, it was an unbelievable atmosphere.  For myself, I’m really proud that North Carolina football is in John Bunting’s hands and moving forward.

“I was impressed with the crowd. I’m proud to be a part of the two biggest in school history. I’m just on the wrong side in one of them . . . .  There was way too much talk about me coming back here. . . . We had our struggles and I’m proud of what we did here.”

Mack Brown’s position in Tar Heel history is secure with ACC Coach of the Year honors in 1996, three ten-win-seasons, and a number four national ranking (Coaches’ Poll) for the 11-1 1997 team.

Brown would go on to lead the Longhorns for eleven more seasons, winning the National Championship in 2005.  You can see why he will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December.

Epilog

During his most recent campus visit, Coach Brown talked with the 2018 Tar Heel football team and told them it is a “privilege” to play in a historic and winsome venue like Kenen Memorial Stadium.  He then added that he was pulling for them each Saturday from his ESPN studio vantage point where he is a network analyst each weekend during football season.

Lath Morriss: the cheerleader they called Tarzan

With the 2018 football season kickoff tomorrow on the west coast against the University of California, Berkeley, many Tar Heel fans are ready for their annual rite of autumn.  An important part of that rite is fan participation—cheering, it’s called.  And no one in Carolina history cheered like the rotund man from Farmville, the unofficial UNC cheerleader they called Tarzan.  He was not only famous on the UNC campus.  Tarzan was a familiar face and voice at Duke as well as other schools across North Carolina. A View to Hugh awakens from its summer doldrums to the beat of Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard, who takes a look at the life and times of Lath Morriss.

Author’s Note: In researching this post, I found numerous spellings of the main character’s name—from Lathe to Lath, and from Morris to Morriss.  In a Daily Tar Heel story published on December 12, 1946, the man himself says his name is Lath Morriss. So that’s what I will go with throughout this post.

Lath Morriss cheering

Lath Morriss, UNC’s unofficial cheerleader during the 1930s and 1940s, with a cheer and cigar in hand. Hugh Morton’s photograph includes plenty of sky, possibly with hopes that a magazine title and issue information could be printed in that area without encroachment into picture area.

When Duke University’s Blue Devils traveled to Pasadena, California for the 25th annual Rose Bowl game on January 2, 1939, the opponent was the University of Southern California.  Many Duke fans across North Carolina were not able to make the long trip to California for the game, so they listened to sportscaster Bill Stern’s coast-to-coast broadcast on NBC radio. Not only did they get Stern’s play-by-play account of the famous game, but another well known voice was heard during the broadcast.  It was that of Lath Morriss cheering on the opposite side of the field from Stern’s broadcast booth.

Lath Morriss was born in Brenham, Texas on February 15, 1904 and spent his early years in and around that small town.  He had a love for the game of football.  He played fullback on his high school team and quarterback on his college team.

The Eagle 28 Dec 1921

A clipping from a December 28, 1921 newspaper article about selecting the All Central Texas High School Football Team, written by Jinx Tucker of the Waco News Tribune and published in The Eagle—a newspaper for Bryan, Texas eighty-five miles away. Although Brenham was a bit too far south of the central Texas area covered by the all-star selection, Tucker noted that Morriss was all-state material.

After college, Lath took a job in Port Arthur, Texas with the Smith Construction Company, which had recently acquired a contract to build a highway between Farmville and Wilson in North Carolina.  When the construction company completed the road project, Morriss stayed in North Carolina and took a job in Farmville with the A.C. Monk Tobacco Company.  He was often seen at football games at Duke and attended his first game in Kenan Stadium in 1927.

His unusual voice often became a distraction in the cheering sections. During a Duke – Colgate game in Duke Stadium, university security asked him to leave.  The Associated Press, which covered the game, reported that Morriss had been evicted.  Students who were seated near him that September day, however, said he just went across the field and started cheering for Colgate.

Morriss soon found a “home” in Chapel Hill on football Saturdays.  He became known as the “Screaming Eagle” in The Daily Tar Heel but the students called him Tarzan.  In a 1935 interview in The Daily Tar Heel, Lath said, “I reckon you might call a voice like mine somewhat unusual, but I believe it has its good points.”

UNC’s 1937 season opener against the University of South Carolina ended in a 13-to-13 draw. The Daily Tar Heel blamed Tarzan’s absence for the tie.  S. R. Rolfe writing in the Sunday, September 26 issue said, “For the first time in memory . . . Tarzan was not at a Carolina ball game.  That may be the reason for the tie. The team probably missed his ‘15 rahs’ and shrill yell.”

At the UNC pep rally on Fetzer Field for the 1946 Duke game, Tarzan was one of the featured speakers, along with another famous Carolina Cheerleader, Kay Kyser.  A portion of the rally was broadcast on WPTF radio.  Tarzan was in rare form the next day when Duke came into Kenan Stadium for the thirty-third meeting between the two old rivals.  He led Rameses, the Carolina mascot, around the stadium to the delight of the photographers covering the game, as Carolina won 22 to 7 to cap off the first Duke–Carolina game of the “Golden Era” in Chapel Hill.

In a game billed as the “1947 Sugar Bowl Rematch,” the Tar Heels took on the Georgia Bulldogs in Chapel Hill on September 27.  Following a 0-to-0 first half, Morriss led the Tar Heels back onto the field for the second half.  With megaphone in hand; he shouted “Go, go, go, go . . . Care-lina.”  The students shouted back, “Go, go, go, go . . . Tarzan.”  Carolina came back in the second half to win 14 to 7 to the delight of the Tar Heel fans among the 43,000 in Kenan Memorial Stadium.

Tarzan’s picture was often displayed in The Daily Tar Heel, and in UNC’s yearbook, The Yackerty Yack (both the 1947 and 1949 editions).  Even the magazine The State carried a cover photograph of the man from Farmville in its November 22, 1947 taken by photographer Bugs Barringer of Rocky Mount.

Lath Morriss The State November 22 1947

Cover of the November 22, 1947 issue of The State, featuring Bugs Barringer’s photograph of Lath Morriss.

The year 1949 brought to a close the “Golden Era” of Tar Heel sports, but the Lath Morriss story continued in Chapel Hill.  When The Chapel Hill Newspaper printed its sixth “Town & Gown” edition in August of 1975, it included a picture of Tarzan.  And in 2016 when author and historian Lee Pace published his book Football in a Forest: The Life and Times of Kenan Memorial Stadium, he featured the following Hugh Morton image of Tarzan on pages 134-135.

Lath Morriss with Rameses

Lath Morriss encourages UNC mascot Rameses to pick up the pace and gain more yardage.

The sad news from Farmville on July 30, 1962 told of the passing of Lath Morriss. He was 58-years-old.

When Hope and Holshouser golfed at Grandfather

Morton's negative of Hope, Holshouser, Westmoreland, Roberts, and Kletcke.

Scan from Hugh Morton’s 35mm negative of Bob Hope, North Carolina Governor James Holshouser, General William C. Westmoreland, Cliff Roberts, and Robert Kletcke. The gentleman on the far left is unidentified. Can anyone identify him?

Earlier this month, Jack Hilliard wrote a post about the 1974 Singing on the Mountain and sent it to me for publication in time for this year’s Singing on Sunday, June 24.  As I began proofing and fact checking the text and looking for images, some of the then-known details about a particular photograph weren’t falling in line, so I decide to do a bit of research to set the matter straight.  What evolved is this parallel to Jack’s post. If you are arriving at this post first, it may be better to read his first (linked below).

As I discovered today, while preparing Jack Hilliard’s post about the 1974 Singing on the Mountain, that the above photograph by Hugh Morton was not made in June 1974 as was previously believed.  Several newspapers published the photograph in their Sunday editions for June 23, 1974, the day of the Singing.  One newspaper was the Greensboro Daily News as seen below.  Notice the cropping compared to the full-frame negative above.

Hope, Holshouser, and Westmoreland showing newspaper crop

Photograph as it appeared in the Greensboro Daily News on Sunday, June 23. The caption reads, “Bob Hope, Gov. James Holshouser, and former Gen. William Westmoreland play golf while awaiting the advent today of the 50th anniversary of the Singing on the Mountain held annually at Grandfather Mountain.”

While researching Jack’s post, the logistics of Bob Hope traveling back and forth between Asheville and Linville wasn’t making much sense to me.  So, I dug into newspapers.com to see if I could find any clues.  Yep, another Morton Mystery arose: the same photograph published in The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg, South Carolina had a much more explanatory caption:

Times and Democrat photograph and caption reveals date is 1973

The same photograph ran in several newspapers, but with different captions. This version in The Times and Democrat published in Orangeburg, South Carolina reveals that Morton made the photograph the previous year.

Turns out Morton made the photograph a year earlier!  Back to newspapers.com to solve this mystery!

According to The Asheville Citizens staff writer Jay Hensley in his June 13, 1973 article titled “Governor Meets King of Quips,” Hugh Morton arranged a golf match to be played on the back nine holes at Grandfather Golf and Country Club on June 12, 1973.  Morton paired North Carolina Governor James Holshouser and comedian Bob Hope to play against Clifford Roberts and Robert Kletcke—respectively, the president and golf pro of Augusta National Golf Course.

As cropped in the newspaper, one gets the impression that Hope, Westmoreland, Holshouser, and one other person identified only by a hand holding a golf club made up a foursome before, during, or after playing a round. (As we see from the full image, that hand belongs to Roberts.)

What was the purpose behind the outing? Hensley’s article does not say directly, but he does report the background around it.  Holshouser and Hope apparently had played a round of golf on some previous occasion with Vice President Spiro T. Agnew.  Hope and his wife Dolores were guests of General Westmoreland at the country club, there for a “short visit.”  Westmoreland wanted to offer his guests complete relaxation during their stay, but Hope enjoyed the outing nonetheless.  Hope’s wife Dolores, Hugh Morton’s sister Agnes, and Raleigh attorney Camelia Trot played in a group after the men.

Again according to Hensley, Holshouser “broke off from a Tuesday meeting of the Southern Regional Education Board” being held in Hot Springs, Virginia. Linville is a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Hot Springs, so it was quite a break off unless traveling by air.

Westmoreland was nursing an injured right arm, so he didn’t even play.  Instead, he “restricted his activities to putting around the golf course.”  A caption in a photograph published in the June 15 edition of the newspaper described the group, however, as a fivesome.

Here are two quips Hope offered during the round:

  • “Smile and they’ll think we are winning,” he said to Holshouser.
  • “I thought this course was named for me until I met you,” he told Clifford Roberts.  Roberts was 79 year old at the time, Hope 70.

 

 

 

The 1983 “Mello Yello 300”

A couple of recent media reports indicate that stock car racing as we have known it since the late 1940s might be undergoing some changes. It has been reported that NASCAR’s founding-family, the France family, is looking for a buyer. On a different track, a couple of weeks back on May 12th, NASCAR’s “King” Richard Petty sold, in his words, “a bunch of stuff,” (more than 170 items) from his memorabilia collection, including his iconic No. 43 Day-Glo red and Petty Blue 1974 Dodge Charger, considered one of the most historically important cars in NASCAR history. It sold for $490,000  So with changes looming overhead, NASCAR heads into its big 2018 twin bill weekend in Charlotte with the Alsco 300 on Saturday and the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday.

Back on October 10, 2014, A View to Hugh featured the 1971 “National 500” at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.  We noted that, while High Morton is famous for his sports photography, there aren’t many NASCAR events represented in his portfolio.

Then about this time last May, Jack Hilliard wrote a post about the 1983 “World 600” at CMS. While writing the post he thought there were images from that race in the Morton collection, but after careful study, I determined that the suspected “World 600” images were actually from a “600” preliminary race: the 1983 “Mello Yello 300.” Our post, titled “Back at the Track,” turned out to be a “Morton Mystery” solver.  Thirty-five years ago, on May 28, 1983, Morton actually was present to photograph a Late-Model-Sportsman race at the famous speedway.  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at that rare occasion when Morton documented the 1983 “Mello Yello 300.”

Mello Yello 300

Dale Earnhardt in the yellow “Wrangler” is one car length ahead of Neil Bonnett in Car #75. Pole winner Morgan Shepard pilots the white car (#7) in the third position. In fourth, driving the white and green car (#28), is Harry Gant. The fifth is car (#17) is driven by Bill Elliott.

On Friday, May 27, 1983, Late Model Sportsman driver Morgan Shepherd (Car #7) from Conover, North Carolina literally dodged the rain drops to win the pole position for the 300 mile race to be run the following day. Shepherd’s speed of 161.565 miles-per-hour beat Neil Bonnett (Car #75), who would start on the outside front row with a speed of 160.598. Rounding out the top five qualifiers were Dale Earnhardt (Car #15), Harry Gant (Car #28), and Bill Elliott (Car #17). Twenty additional positions had been filled the day before on Thursday, May 26th.

The rain drops were gone on Saturday, May 28th as 75,000 race fans came out for the “Mello Yello 300.”  Dale Earnhardt (Car #15), from nearby Kannapolis, took the lead from Neil Bonnett (Car #75) on the second lap. Earnhardt held the lead for fifteen laps. Then, Bonnett, Earnhardt, and Harry Gant (Car #28) took turns sharing the lead until lap 50, when Earnhardt made an unscheduled pit stop under green.  His stop cost him a lap. He would say after the race, “I thought we had a tire going bad.”  But the problem was actually a handling issue which the Earnhardt team battled most of the afternoon.

Pole sitter Morgan Shepherd (Car #7) exited the race on lap 53, suffering a broken shock mount on the rear end of his Oldsmobile.  With Earnhardt a lap down, it was Bonnett and Gant playing leap frog with the lead. Then On lap 76, a crash took out the current Late Model points leader, Asheboro’s Sam Ard (Car #00). Three laps later, on lap 79, Earnhardt got his lap back.

On lap 93, Bill Elliott (Car #17) took over the lead for 26 laps before Gant got back in front on lap 119. But by lap 100, Earnhardt had gotten back into second place and then on lap 136 he took over the lead for good leading the final 64 laps to take the win, beating Neil Bonnett by about 5 seconds. The winning speed for Earnhardt’s yellow and blue Wrangler Pontiac was 117.724 miles per hour. For his win, he got $9,100 and overall he led 83 of the 200 laps run.

Mello Yello 300

Dale Earnhardt in his yellow “Wrangler” (#15) and Neil Bonnett in the white car with red roof (#75) coming out of turn four.

Earnhardt battled Bonnett a good part of the afternoon, which Morton captured from his position high above the track.  Bonnett, who led the race 7 times for 61 laps, said “I felt pretty good out there until the last restart when we felt a valve spring breaking.”  For Earnhardt, this particular victory was a breakthrough since he had never before won this race, having twice finished second. Neil Bonnett would go on to win the 1983 “World 600” the next day with Earnhardt finishing 5th.

Addendum by Stephen Fletcher

unknown race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Want to help solve a “Morton Mystery?” The slide above is different from the rest of the slides in lot PTCM2_8894.  The first eleven slides in the set are in Kodak cardboard mounts numbered between 9 and 21; the slide above, however, is in a Pakon plastic mount with dot-matrix printing that reads, “D.H.  600-39” and [slide number] “29.”  The large infield logo seen above (detail below) is not in the infield seen in the opening image of last year’s post.  Can anyone identify the race in the above image?  Is it a different year of the 600?  Is “D.H.” the initials of another photographer? (There are several images in the Morton collection by other photographers.)  Please let us know what you think!

infield logo detail

Detail Skoal #33 and Quaker State cars

UNC’s first NCAA Division I Tournament in Charlotte

On March 18th, 2012 Bill Richards, a colleague who worked in the library’s Digital Production Center, passed away unexpectedly while watching the Tar Heel’s basketball team defeat Creighton University in the “Sweet Sixteen” round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.  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.  In 1998 he started working in Library Photographic Services, but continued shooting for Sports Information into the 2000s. I am dedicating this blog post, as I have each year since his departure, to Bill who, like Hugh Morton, was an avid UNC basketball fan.

Walter Davis shooting jump shot

Walter Davis elevates and shoots beyond the reach a New Mexico State defender during first round action in the 1975 NCAA Division I Championship Tournament played at the Charlotte Coliseum. UNC’s Mitch Kupchak watches Davis’s shot in anticipation. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

In 1975, the UNC men’s basketball team found itself in the NCAA Tournament once again—not because it was yet another year in a long string of consecutive appearances, but because the team did not make the big dance the previous two years. Charlotte hosted the East Regional games in 1973, which was the final year of the NCAA University Division Basketball Tournament; UNC, however, was MIA because they played in the NIT in NYC.  There they finished in third place, making it to the semifinals but losing to Notre Dame 78–71, but defeating the other semifinal loser, Alabama, 88–69.  The next year, 1974, also found the Tar Heels playing in the NIT, but they were one-and-done with an eleven-point loss to Purdue, 82–71 in their first contest.

UNC entered the 1975 NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament after capturing the ACC Tournament as the second seed with three narrow victories.  They defeated, in order, seventh seed Wake Forest in overtime, 101–100; third seed Clemson in overtime, 76-71; and fourth seed North Carolina State, 70–66.

The 1975 NCAA Tournament was the first to field thirty-two teams without first round byes, and the second that officially determined the Division I champion.  Two cities hosted the first round games for the East region: Charlotte and Philadelphia.  UNC played its first round opponent, New Mexico State, at the Charlotte Coliseum on March 15.  New Mexico State had finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference behind Louisville.  Also playing in Charlotte that day was Furman University against Boston College.  The winners of both these games would head to Providence, Rhode Island for the Eastern Regionals.

With the game just down the road, Hugh Morton was court-side in the coliseum with his camera, capturing Phil Ford, Mitch Kupchak, Mickey Bell, and Walter Davis on black-and-white film.  Eleven negatives survive, five of which can be seen on the online collection of Morton’s photographs.  The Tar Heels easily handled the Aggies, 93–69.  Boston College was also victorious, defeating Furman, 82–76.  Both victors headed off to the Ocean State for their Thursday Eastern Regional semifinals: UNC versus Syracuse and Boston College against Kansas State.

UNC and Syracuse hadn’t played against each other since the Tar Heel’s perfect 32–0 season in 1957.  The twentieth ranked Orangemen from Syracuse upset the sixth ranked Tar Heels in a close game, 78–76.  Boston College fell at the hands of Kansas State 74–65.  Back then, the regional losers played a third-place game, so both teams hung around until Saturday, when UNC whipped BC 110–90.

Morton did not make the journey to Providence, so the only 1975 NCAA Tournament photographs in the collection are those from the first round game played in Charlotte.

Correction 20 March 2018: The post initially stated UNC defeated number-one seed Maryland, 87–85 in the second round of the 1975 ACC Tournament.  UNC defeated Clemson, 76–71, not Maryland.  North Carolina State defeated Maryland, 87–85.

A drive to Washington DC with Barrier: part 3

Negative strips from the 1987 ACC Tournament

SLIM PICKINGS: Hugh Morton’s only black-and-white negatives from the 1987 ACC Tournament semifinals. The lower left images are likely from Dean Smith’s press conference after the Virginia game, because the next frame is a shot from the Wake Forest vs. North Carolina State game. The strip on the right contains more action from that game.

This is the third and final entry summarizing Hugh Morton’s drive to Washington D.C. with Smith Barrier to photograph the Jesse Helms, the ACC Tournament, and David Brinkley.  The series was to be four parts long, but the collection materials just didn’t rise to the occasion.  What happened?

Saturday, March 7: “ACC”

Strip of black-and-white negatives from 1987 ACC Tournament final

SLIMMER PICKINGS: The only extant black-and-white negatives from the 1987 ACC Tournament final won by North Carolina State over UNC, 68–67.

Morton, as you might expect, photographed the semifinals played between UNC and Virginia, and NC State and Wake Forest.  As noted in the previous post in the series, the images from this ACC tournament are a bit scattered in the collection. Negatives and slides from March 7 are very scarce and can be found here in the collection:

  • Roll Film Box P081/35BW-17 (35mm black-and-white negatives)
    • Envelope 6.1.1-5-304: includes UNC vs. Virginia (5 negatives), but only four shots on the sidelines of a young person next to a water cooler, and a shot of the scoreboard showing a 72–72 tie with 0:22 on the clock, plus two frames during Dean Smiths’s press conference.  There are no game action black-and-white negatives.
  • Slide Lot 009598 (35mm color slides)
    • UNC vs. Virginia (31 slides): Morton’s slides from this game are uncharacteristically under exposed.

Penciled into his calendar was a dinner with “Babb, Cookerly, Thigpen, Sachs” suggesting that the dinner gathering was planned after the initial entry of ACC in ink.  I searched the collection finding aid and online images and found nothing.  Does anyone know who these people were? With some more details we might be able to figure out if images exist under a topical description.

David Brinkley, 1987.

David Brinkley sitting at table in ABC Newsroom, Washington bureau, Sunday, March 8, 1987.

Sunday, March 8: “ACC”

Sunday morning at 9:30, Hugh Morton photographed fellow Wilmington native David Brinkley on the set of ABC News Washington.  Photographically speaking it was the highlight of his day.  That afternoon, UNC lost to NC State 68–67, and Morton’s 35mm slides were once again mostly underexposed.  The day’s end? “Drive Gbo.”  Unlike today’s digital days when you can instantaneously review of your exposures on the back of your camera, Morton would’t know until after he sent off his film to be chemically processed in a lab and reviewed the results on his light table that he had underexposed his ACC tournament color slides.

UNC doesn’t always win basketball tournaments, and even Hugh Morton had a bad couple days court-side.  Fortunately for us today, his trip to DC produced excellent results with several photographs of two of North Carolina’s most notable people of their time.

A drive to Washington DC with Barrier: part 2

Today’s post is part two of a four-day, four-post series covering a trip Hugh Morton made to the Washington D.C. area between Wednesday, March 4 and Sunday, March 8, 1987.  Part one of this series covered March 5th, when Morton photographed United States Senator Jesse Helms.  Today’s post covers the March 6th, the first day of the 1987 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

Friday, March 6: “ACC Landover”

As is the case today in 2018, March 6th was the first day of the 1987 ACC Tournament, played in Andover, Maryland at Capital Centre.  Morton photographed the following game between Virginia and Georgia Tech . . .

Action during Georgia Tech versus Virginia ACC Tournament between Virginia and Georgia Tech

Action during the Georgia Tech versus Virginia game in the 1987 ACC Tournament, 6 March 1987.

and UNC’s matchup with the local favorite, Maryland.

Action during UNC versus Maryland in 1987 ACC Tournament

Caught in the action is UNC’s J. R. Reid. Behind Reid is #21 Michael Norwood. Players for Maryland are #4 Ivan Powell and #23 Dave Dickerson.

Most of Morton’s work from this opening quarterfinal round has not been digitized. The negatives and slides in the collection for the various games of the tournament are a bit jumbled.  Below is a list of black-and-white negatives and color slides for games played on March 6, excerpted from the Morton collection finding aid:

  • Roll Film Box P081/35BW-17 (35mm black-and-white negatives)
    • Envelope 6.1.1-5-302: Georgia Tech vs. University of Virginia (3 negatives)
    • Envelope 6.1.1-5-303: UNC vs. Maryland (6 negatives)
    • Envelope 6.1.1-5-304: includes UNC vs. Maryland (11 negatives).  This envelope includes loose strips from all three days of the tournament.
  • Slide Lot 009600 (35mm color slides)
    • UNC vs. Maryland (3 slides)
    • Virginia vs. Georgia Tech (2 slides)
    • Clemson vs. Wake Forest (7 slides)
    • Duke vs. North Carolina State (5 slides of game action, 4 slides of post-game press conference—3 of NC State coach Jim Valvano and 1 with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski).

Sorting out the above was very confusing!  Since I took the time to figure out what was what, I decided to record it here for anyone’s future reference.  There were some errors in the finding aid, too, so I submitted corrections for those.