BL:… then Cowboy Joe West pulled out a fork

    NCSHoF
    BobLee
    May09/ 2018

    .

    … then Cowboy Joe West pulled out a fork

    I have attended too many sports/Hall of Fame banquets over the years.  Root canal surgery can be more better.  They can too oft be fraught with the twin perils of boredom and bad taste.

    In preparation for last Friday night’s annual North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame shindig, I concentrated on the pleasant anticipation of seeing “old friends” gathering to honor our beloved “Coach Jones”… a 2018 posthumous inductee into the NCSHoF.

    The “seeing old friends” was the pleasure it always is, but, by golly, the banquet itself was amazingly well-done. By far the most pleasant of the dozens of similar shindigs I have attended over the years.

    Well-deserved KUDOS to the NCSHoF officials who recognized the logistical perils lurking in any such event where an open microphone is given to anyone unaware of the responsibilities therein… and with no innate sense of how long “just 5-8 minutes” is.

    Apt comparisons would be (1) giving an uncapped magic marker to a 2 year-old… (2) trying to clip a cat claws by oneself… (3) voting for a political candidate who does not note his/her party affiliation in their mailers.

    Friday night… the video and audio worked… the meal was fine… the assembled 1,300 were well-behaved… only one inductee “got political” noting how glad he is that sexual predators have access to women’s rest rooms in NC… the only inductee that used humor – MLB Umpire “Cowboy Joe” West – knew what he was doing and “did it” very well.

    The NCSHoF has been doing this for 50-some years. It gets criticized for all the reasons any “Hall of Fame” gets criticized… you don’t agree with who got in and/or who didn’t especially if “didn’t” is you or someone you know and like. NCSHOF

    The NCSHoF induction criteria is ambiguously specific or specifically ambiguous. “Controversy” is to a Hall of Fame what garlic is to cooking… some is good. Too much can be too much. The NCSHoF seems OK in that regard.

    This year’s 15 inductees included one of NC’s three speed skaters (?) and a woman who surfs and owns a popular grocery store in Morehead City.

    The current President of The NCSHoF is NC State’s legendary pitbull Nora Lynn Finch. Ms Finch exudes “no-nonsense” and a “because I said so… end of discussion” administrative persona. I think that is just fine as opposed to the more traditional “good ol’ boy” style. … Enough about that.

    About 25 or so of my “grew up with” guys and gals gathered for the induction of our high school basketball coach – “Coach Jones”. His full name was Coach Paul Jones. If any of us ever referred to him as “Paul” none of us would know who they were talking about.

    When he made his permanent and most positive impact on our lives we were all teenagers and he was in his early-mid 30s. Now we are twice as old as he was then. He was handsome with a Hallmark card family and possessed all the admirable qualities one could ever imagine in an adult role model for “young people”.

    In this era of clay-footed role models… Coach Paul Jones – over 76 years – NEVER, to my knowledge, revealed any aspect of his personality or personal life that was less than exemplary.

    Try living your life for 50 years as a “everybody knows him/her” in a small town of 20,000… and do so “exemplary”. THAT is as deserving of “honor” as any sports accomplishment.

    “Coach” passed away in 2009 from pulmonary fibrosis. He won over 660 Basketball games over a 38-year career all in Kinston.

    Of the 1,300 people at Friday’s event, I suppose “maybe” 50 knew anything about “our Coach Jones” beyond what appeared in the printed program.

    I cogitated about that through the night’s festivities. Of the 15 inductees, I had heard of maybe 10 to the degree I could say “Oh, she was an LPGA golfer (Donna Andrews)”… “he was a UNC/MLB pitcher (Scott Bankhead)”… “he was a wide receiver at Duke (Wes Chesson)”… etc.

    The other five… I had no clue. But there were friends and family on-hand that knew them and knew of their achievements… that was/is “a good thing”.

    I was chatting with “one of us” as we found our seats. “Steve” was saying how deserving Coach Jones was of this honor… and how it was “long-overdue”. I certainly concurred but added in the context of the sports history of the entire state, Coach Jones’ impact was primarily within our community… and, more specifically, with our generation.

    As the program began, they did the five posthumous inductees first with video clips. They did them alphabetically.

    Before they got to “J” they did “Jack Holley”. Coach Jack Holley coached high school football in North Carolina for 46 years. He won a whole lot of games and championships at 4-5 small towns across the state. I had never heard of him… and I’m pretty good about “hearing about” anyone of note.

    I turned to my friend Steve. “I’ve never heard of him… have you?” Steve shook his head…

    “He was someone’s Coach Jones.” I said.

    Does being in a Hall of Fame, by definition, imply that one is “Famous”?

    Is “Fame” measured solely by mansions and money?

    Does defining “Famous” comes down to “the size of the fish” and “the size of the pond”?  Coach Jones was not “Dean” or “K” or Jimmy V”.

    I would not pay $150 to attend a banquet to honor them.  I did for Coach Jones… and never considered NOT being on-hand Friday night.

    A group of 25 or so men and women, all of whom are now older than we ever imagined we would ever be, gathered in Raleigh to commune… to honor a man who positively impacted our lives directly for 3-4 years over 50 years ago.

    NOTE: Our basketball teams went 51-1 over two years with back-to-back State Championships.  Two earlier teams had been runners-up.  I don’t think that success was what we were honoring.

    3-4 of our group had remained in Kinston over the years. The rest of us left for parts near and far to raise our families and make our marks and live our lives. “Keeping in touch” has been via reunions and “running into…” happenstances.

    Those opportunities are dwindling down.

    There is no one in “my home town” group that I “don’t like”. Not a single one. I can’t say that about everyone I’ve ever met for sure. I don’t live near any of them nor do I socialize with any of them on a regular basis. Maybe “familiarity would breed contempt” but I don’t have to be concerned about that.

    With a couple of exceptions, I don’t know their “politics”. With those exceptions it is absolutely inconsequential. Can’t say THAT much anymore.

    Was “Coach Jones” special? Is “our group” special?

    “Coach Jones” was certainly special to us… and the collective “we” are special enough to one another that we all got together last Friday night.

    Is it all attributable to Kinston’s World Famous Pure Artesian Well Water? … or all of the above.

    .

    BobLee… what about Umpire “Cowboy Joe” West and the silverware? You had to “be there” to understand.

    .

    ######

    If you enjoyed this… 

    2,000 more BobLeeSays commentaries – LINK.

    For partisan political commentaries….

    AgentPierceSaid… LINK         /    SoTheBlondeSaid…. LINK

    BobLee
    • David French Reply
      5 months ago

      Great analysis of the event. I was a member of GHS Class of 1967 Basketball Team & I can say without hesitation playing for Coach Jones was one of the highlights of my life. I will never forget & will be eternally grateful for what he did for me as a person, a teacher & a coach. A very much deserved recognition for a great man & leader who made all of us who were blessed to be influenced by “Coach” better.

      • BobLee Reply
        5 months ago

        Thank you David. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Jo.Bo Reply
      5 months ago

      Just read through some of the comments from your post
      “… then Cowboy Joe West pulled out a fork” on
      BOBLEE SAYS.
      About your reply to Doug regarding the state baseball championship:
      You are correct that it was just 1967;
      However, neither Mike Baker nor Ted Gaskins were members of that
      team. Ted had graduated in 1966 (had one of those curiously placed
      DOB’s); and, Mike had gone to attend a “prep school” so that he could
      play football in his senior year — he did not attend GHS in the 1966-1967
      school year (if you’re interested, I’ll tell you sometime about what football
      coach George Thompson had to say about this situation).
      Wish that we had had both Ted and Mike on that ‘67 team, and we sure
      as hell needed Mike on the 1966 football team.
      .
      BTW, this honor for Coach Jones was about a quarter-century late, and
      for Wes Chesson about 10 or 12 years late. The 2008 induction of Leo Hart
      was just plain shamefully late — I had been after Lee Gliarmis (read Dick’s
      Hot Dogs) to help get Leo nominated since the mid-1980’s, when I lived in
      Wilson.
      .
      BTW2, how did you know about the 1961 Little League and 1963 Junior League
      State Championship teams? Good for you – not exactly widely known about, not
      even in Kinston, not even at FRC or EWRC.
      .
      BTW3, I’m contacting you in this format because I could not get your site
      Reply function to work.

      Thanks.

      • BobLee Reply
        5 months ago

        Thanks for the updating. FWIW… in partial defense of NCSHOF; in order to be inducted, one must first be nominated. For Coach Jones, Ted Gaskins and Willie Taylor headed an unofficial committee to submit his credentials. There are also various other eligibility requirements the general public is unaware of. As I noted, HOFs tend to be controversial for just the reasons you mention. UNC’s Don McCauley did not get in until 4-5 years ago as he was not born in nor lived in NC until the past ten years.

    • The Expatriate Reply
      5 months ago

      I believe you are right, especially about them being after my time as resident of Goldsie. I am n ow older than dirt but still meeting good people and learning stuff in This Alien Land I now call home.

    • CNR Reply
      5 months ago

      About time Coach Paul Jones is among those enshrined. Jack Holley is a coach whom I met in Tabor City over half a century ago. Jack is absolutely deserving of the honor.
      .
      In point of fact I met him the same week I met Coach Jones. That would be the week of the famous game in nineteen hundred and sixty-five between New Bern and Grainger at Kinston. That would have been when we had to have passed often in the hallowed halls of your halcyon years.
      .
      I recall your writing about your feelings for Bill Bunting and the New Bern teams of those years. I must confess, as much as I liked Kinston and Coach Jones, I wanted Bill to win the game. My exterior behavior was that of a neutral, I rooted internally for your adversaries from New Bern.
      .
      If a young person, athlete or not, had a “Coach” in their lives…Lucky them.

      • BobLee Reply
        5 months ago

        Brent certainly had his “Coach Jones” in Indiana in the mid 70s… PLUS all those kids in NOLA and in Orange County for all those years. We sure could use more “Coaches” these days…

    • The Expatriate Reply
      5 months ago

      Coach Norris Jeffrey at Goldsboro High School and later in Badin is a long-lingering influence for a lot of us. I was at East Carolina with Paul Jones, a cherished friend a member of the best basketball team ECU has ever had (22-2 in 1953-1954) and for which Norwood Talton and I were managers. The coach, Howard Porter, no doubt had a great influence on Paul’s grasp of what “coach” means.

      • BobLee Reply
        5 months ago

        Wasn’t there a Gerald Whisenhunt and a Norwood Lee at Goldsboro? May have been long after you …

    • Cuz Reply
      5 months ago

      Well, I was there also. Coach Jones was good. Was there primarily for one of the posthumous guys CHRIS CAMMACK, THe N C State baseball player, Who led the ACC in hitting for 4 years. My good friend from Fayetteville. A great guy. Died at about age 62. We sat at one of the front tables. George Whitfield was with us. Had a great time too. Cuz

      • BobLee Reply
        5 months ago

        I saw George on the way out… and assured him that his is still THE Hall of Fame… at least the one with the largest plagues.

    • Porgie Reply
      5 months ago

      Echoing the comments of my bride below, what a great event. As always, it was great to see everyone and missed those who could not make it at the last minute. Having lived in Reidsville now for 47+ years, there are a couple of other legends in this area, W. A. Wall and Hoy Isaacs, both of whom won over 600 games in coaching high school basketball at Rockingham County and Reidsville. Lived in the same neighbor with both. I found both their names along with Coach Jones on the list of winningest coaches by state at the Basketball HOF in Springfield, MA. That is when I found we were from “Kingston, NC”, but hopefully that was corrected the next day(at least, I was told it was). Speaking of neighbors, the Bankheads were next door neighbors but Scott was already at school in Orange County then. Remember also, I was Coach Jones favorite player- which is why he always keep me close to him on the bench in both basketball and baseball. Or maybe it was because he had an eye for talent or a lack there of. I always thought his first name was “Coach” because that is usually what everyonecalled him. Enough or you will think I am 68 in disguise

      • BobLee Reply
        5 months ago

        I like to think everyone had “a Coach Jones” at some point. The world might be a little less unsettled were it so…

    • Cobb Turner Reply
      5 months ago

      I attended S. Lenoir. However Coach Jones was my American Legion coach 1967-70. He was a great coach and an even greater mentor and role model . . . always helping, always ‘coaching’, always positive, and a natural builder of young men. I’m sorry I was unable to attended his induction.

      • BobLee Reply
        5 months ago

        Was that the AmerLeg team with Leo, Paul Miller, Arlin Hines, Dwight Buck, etc… Did you go on to BYU?

    • Old Alpha Wolf Reply
      5 months ago

      My Coach Jones was Bloise Grissom, at Elkin about whom you may have heard.

      • BobLee Reply
        5 months ago

        That would be Bud Grissom’s dad…?

    • Doug Reply
      5 months ago

      Reply to BobLee: Just confirmed.I stand corrected. It was just 1967.

    • Doug Reply
      5 months ago

      If my memory hasn’t completely gone to pasture, Coach Jones also won back-to-back state championships in baseball. 1967 & 1968. I know for sure GHS won it in Leo’s senior year (67′) and “pretty sure” about 68′. And everyone interested in Duke-UNC football remembers the Hart-Chesson shoestring play.

      • BobLee Reply
        5 months ago

        I think it was just 1967 … Leo, Mike Baker, Bert Feik, Dwight Buck, Ted Gaskins etc etc … same bunch that won Little League and Junior League State Champs coming up.

    • Mary Ella Pollock Reply
      5 months ago

      Okay “old home town friend”, unlike you I had never attended one of ‘these” athletic galas unless you count the Pep Club banquets we had at our beloved Grainger High School where our dear Coach Jones was always present. I found the NCHOF event enjoyable and informative even though I went wondering what in the world it would be like. As great as it was to honor Coach, it was even greater to be with those who admired and loved him. As you have said, all our crowd just enjoys being together and celebrating who we are and where we came from. Your comments about the event were just right. Enjoy those “grands”.
      “Porgie”s wife ( Mary Ella)

      • BobLee Reply
        5 months ago

        MENP… between those Pep Clubs fetes and last Friday there be many a loooong evening eating rubber chicken in uncomfortable chairs with bad audio-visual and waaaaay too many long-winded self-important whozits… BUT LAST FRIDAY WAS A WINNER FOR SURE! 🙂

    • Chuck Vipperman Reply
      5 months ago

      I was blessed to have several “Coach Joneses” growing up playing football and baseball.

      Good stuff!

      • BobLee Reply
        5 months ago

        IMO… bearing the title of “Coach” is a sacred calling never to be taken lightly.

    • ENC1 Reply
      5 months ago

      Never played for Coach Jones but growing up and playing HS basketball I knew who he was and how much my HS coaches thought of him. Taking a job in Kinston after college got to know Coach Jones and his children, great family!!!
      .
      Yes there are many schools across this state and country that are/were lucky to have a Coach Jones….I just hope we have people like you that keep writing about them.

      • BobLee Reply
        5 months ago

        “People like me” may be a dying breed but “Legends” (like Puff The Magic Dragon) surely live forever. “Public education” ain’t what it used to be so not sure where “The Coach Jones” thrive these days.

    • John Council Reply
      5 months ago

      BL
      I have enjoyed your site for some time without posting anything. Seems we share the same mind on many subjects. I did want to comment on Jack Holley. “Coach Holley” is/was a high school football legend in the eastern part of the state. For many former players, he was our Coach Jones. Someone who impacts your life still… although most of the imprint was made 45 + years ago.
      He was “a good egg” as they say.
      JC

      • BobLee Reply
        5 months ago

        Think about how many “Coach Holleys” and “Coach Jones'” there must be across America ? I sure hope they are still “out there” impacting young lives. Thanks for your comments, John.
        .
        FWIW… “a good egg” is a Daddy/daughter phrase that Kid and I have used for 25 years. She assures me that her twins – Scout & Ruthie – will both be “good eggs” too.

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.