Jan. 9, 2013. Local photography legend, the late High Morton, has been honored posthumously with induction into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Also inducted were Kelvin Bryant, Ron Francis, Wade Garrett, Bill Guthridge, Tommy Helms, Marion Kirby, Rich McGeorge, Hugh Morton (deceased), Bob Quincy (deceased), Marty Sheets and Mildred Southern.
They will be enshrined at the 50th annual induction banquet on the evening of Thursday, May 2, at the Raleigh Convention Center. An afternoon news conference will be held Wednesday, May 1, at 4 p.m. at the N.C. Museum of History, home of the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame, located at 5 East Edenton Street in Raleigh.
“The achievements of this year’s class of inductees enrich our state’s remarkable sports heritage, and they certainly earned the honor of joining the 289 men and women who have been previously enshrined,” said Dr. Janie Brown, president of the Hall. “This is our 50th class and we will have a program to celebrate this special time in our state’s sports history.”
Banquet ticket information is available at www.ncsportshalloffame.org or by calling (919) 845-3455.
The N.C. Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1963. The permanent exhibit N.C. Sports Hall of Fame at the N.C. Museum of History features significant artifacts donated by the inductees. The museum is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
A brief biography of each 2013 inductee follows:
HUGH MORTON: Hugh Morton was a many-faceted man who turned Grandfather Mountain into one of the state’s treasures. As a fierce defender of nature, he was one of North Carolina’s most staunch conservationists. Morton was also a world-class photographer, which placed him squarely into the state’s sports realm. His vast collection of photographs includes perhaps one of the most extensive sports collections in the nation, and it documents the men and women who have close ties to both the ACC and the Southern Conference. Morton served as a board member and past president of the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
KELVIN BRYANT: The Tarboro native was one of the most explosive running backs in UNC-Chapel Hill football history, even though he was plagued with injuries throughout his four-year career at Carolina. Yet, during his career, Bryant averaged 5.5 yards per carry. He finished with one carry short of 600 and was at the top of his collegiate game in his sophomore and junior years. As a sophomore, he split time with Amos Lawrence at tailback, giving the Tar Heels one of the most dynamic duos at the position in Atlantic Coast Conference history. For his part, Bryant ran for 1,039 yards, including an 81-yard run against the University of Virginia and a 199-yard game against Duke. Then he exploded onto the national spotlight as a junior, getting 211 yards on 19 carries in the season opener against East Carolina, a game in which he scored an ACC-record six touchdowns. He had five more touchdowns a week later against Miami of Ohio and four in the third game against Boston College. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter in any of those games. He finished the season by averaging 6.7 yards per carry and became the school’s third all-time rusher and scorer. As a pro, he was named United States Football League Player of the Year in 1983 and MVP in the championship game. He also played for the Washington Redskins, where his coach, Joe Gibbs, once said, “When he’s healthy, he’s the best I’ve ever seen at coming out of the backfield.”
RON FRANCIS: A National Hockey League Hall of Fame inductee, Francis has found a home in the Raleigh area, where he has lived for more than a decade. He retired from the ice after the 2004-2005 season and is currently an associate head coach and director of player personnel for the Carolina Hurricanes. Today he stands second only to Wayne Gretzky in career assists (1,249), fourth in career points (1,798), third in games played (1,731) and 21st in career goals (549). He won two Stanley Cups, and his number 10 shirt has been retired by the Carolina Hurricanes. In his career, he was selected to the National Hockey League All-Star team four times. He also won the Alka-Seltzer Plus Award, the Frank J. Selke Trophy, the Lady Byng Trophy three times, and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. He still ranks number one all-time in Whalers/Hurricane franchise history in points, goals, assists and games played.
WADE GARRETT: The Lexington native was the premier fast-pitch softball pitcher in an era when men’s softball was enjoying its greatest popularity in North Carolina. Garrett pitched for 20 years for Champion Paper of Canton and recorded 358 victories (among them an astonishing 40 no-hitters) and had only 83 losses. In one streak of just over 78 innings, he wasunscored upon. He was a member of the All-State or All-South team 15 times, was all-region 10 times, appeared in 10 world tournaments and was also chosen all-world. He is a member of the N.C. Softball Hall of Fame. Garrett currently resides in Lexington.
BILL GUTHRIDGE: The ultimate assistant coach, Guthridge was Dean Smith’s first lieutenant for 30 years and succeeded Smith as the head coach of the Tar Heels. In Guthridge’s three seasons at the helm, the Tar Heels had records of 34-4, 24-10 and 22-14 for a cumulative 90-28 mark. He was named National Coach of the Year in 1998, after leading UNC-Chapel Hill into the Final Four. As an assistant to Smith, Guthridge declined repeated opportunities to leave the side of his old friend to head up programs on his own. At Carolina, he was famous for his ability to teach the fundamentals of pivot play to the big men in the program, and he was the team’s shooting coach.
TOMMY HELMS: The Charlotte native was an integral part of Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” of the 1960s and 1970s, manning the second-base position on a team that included Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez. Helms was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1966 and was a member of the National League All-Star team in 1967 and 1968. As one of the most reliable infielders in the senior circuit, he won Gold Gloves in 1970 and 1971. Although Helms is remembered as a Cincinnati Red, he also saw time with Houston, Pittsburgh and Boston. He had a career batting average of .269 and wound up managing the Reds in parts of two seasons as the successor to Rose.
MARION KIRBY: A 1964 graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne College (now Lenoir-Rhyne University), where he played on a national championship football team, Kirby has established himself as one of North Carolina’s top high school coaches. After a year as a graduate assistant at East Carolina, he became the head football coach in Edenton High School,where he posted a mark of 59-14-3 and won three conference titles. Kirby then moved to Page High School and established the Pirates as a state powerhouse for more than 20 years. His Page teams went to the playoffs 16 times and won 12 league titles. They won state 4-A championships in 1980, 1983, 1984 and 1985 and were runners-up in 1982. In all, 25 of his teams won at least seven games, and Kirby’s career record stands at 278-65-8. He was selected to build Greensboro College’s football program from scratch, and he later became athletic director at Guilford College. He is a member of the Lenoir-Rhyne Sports Hall of Fame, and he served for many years as secretary-treasurer of the N.C. Coaches Association.
RICH McGEORGE: A 1971 graduate of Elon College (now Elon University), McGeorge was a first-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers, for whom he starred as a tight end for nine seasons. He caught 175 passes in his pro career, most of them from legendary Bart Starr, for 2,370 yards. He played both football and basketball at Elon, and at one time he held the national NAIA record for catches, 224, and total yards, 3,486. He held most of Elon’s other passing-catching records and won numerous all-conference, all-district and All-American awards. He also led the Elon basketball team in scoring in 1969 with an average of 16.8, and he was an all-conference selection for the 22-8 Christians his senior season. When he graduated, McGeorge held Elon’s career field goal percentage record at 59.8 percent, and he was the team’s leading rebounder with 688 boards. McGeorge was part of a team that made 51 consecutive free throws in a district playoff game against North Carolina A&T State. He served as an assistant football coach at both Duke University and the University of Florida, prior to spending seven years on the staff of Don Shula of the Miami Dolphins. He is a member of the Elon Sports Hall of Fame, the NAIA Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.
BOB QUINCY: A member of the N. C, Journalism Hall of Fame, Quincy also was a five-time Sports Writer of the Year in North Carolina. Before his career truly began, he took time out from his studies at UNC-Chapel Hill to fly 30 combat missions over Europe in a B-17 bomber during World War II. He began his newspaper career at the Rocky Mount Telegram and later became sports editor of the Charlotte News. He spent time as sports information director at UNC-Chapel Hill from 1962 until 1966, before returning to Charlotte to work in radio and television. Quincy was hired as sports columnist for the Charlotte Observer in 1971 and remained on that staff until his death in 1984. The Bob Quincy Memorial Scholarship is offered by his alma mater’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Quincy authored two books, including one on Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice.
MARTY SHEETS: Sheets is one of the most highly decorated special athletes in the world. He holds 250 Special Olympic medals in an array of sports at local, state, national and world levels. Sheets has won gold, silver or bronze medals in swimming, skiing, tennis and power lifting at the world competition level, and golf at the 2007 national level. He and the late singer John Denver were chosen to lead the United States delegation into the World Games opening ceremonies in 1987. Sheets was featured on ABC’s “Wild World of Sports” in 1991, and he began a 15-year run on the golf committee of Special Olympics in 1993. Sheets was chosen to sit with Pres. Clinton at the opening of the 1995 World Games, and in 2007 he was selected by Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver to join her and four other athletes in a Special Olympics portrait, which is featured in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. A number of state and community awards have been conferred upon Sheets, including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine and the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. The Professional Golf Association Tour honored him as its Volunteer of the Year in 2006.
MILDRED F. SOUTHERN: Southern is the matriarch of tennis in the South, particularly in North Carolina. The Winston-Salem native has served North Carolina and Southern tennis as well as the United States Tennis Association in a range of capacities, from association president to referee, to ranking committees and as a competitor who has been at the top of her game in various age groups for years. Southern has won a variety of national, regional and state championships and was nationally ranked almost continuously from 1983 through 1997. She has been presented more than a dozen national, regional and state honors. Southern won state titles in 1971 and 1973 and won state championships every year from 1975 through 1997. She also won Southern championships every year from 1981 through 1997. She owns 16 national titles and is arguably North Carolina’s all-time most decorated tennis champion and volunteer. The top award for teams competing in southern tennis is the Mildred F. Southern Cup, and the building that houses the N.C. Tennis Association in Greensboro is named for Southern and her husband.