First Posted: 4/19/2011
The seven newest members of the Robeson County Sports Hall of Fame may have the most name recognition of any of the previous two classes combined.
That is not to down play the other 18 people enshrined into the Hall because every single one of them deserves the honor. But when you have Tim Worley, Kelvin Sampson, Dick Taylor and Jim Thomas in a single class, these stars on a national level shine a little bit brighter.
Unfortunately, not a lot of people outside of the inductees family, friends or current Hall members attended the event Sunday afternoon at the Angel Exchange at COMTech. This is unfortunate because the history of Robeson County athletics and its athletes deserves a place to call home and be recognized.
This is the third year of the Hall’s existence but for it to continue, it needs outside support of the community. The Hall gets assistance from the cities of Lumberton, Pembroke, Red Springs, Rowland, St. Pauls and Fairmont as well as the county commissioners but seems to lack the interest from the general public.
This is a shame because with a place like this, the exploits of the Tim Worleys, Lee Vernon McNeills, Lenwood Grahams and Pauline Bullard Locklears are remembered, not forgotten through time.
I have talked to several members of the Hall’s board of directors and each of them have been surprised with the depth of talent that are from the county and have made an impact in athletics. Who could have imagined it would have taken the third class to induct Worley or Sampson? The current head football coach at East Carolina? Ruffin McNeill had to wait until the second group to get into the Hall.
As Abdul Ghaffar told Sunday night’s attendees they are many more selections to come with the likes of Shawn Locklear, Vonta Leach and Kenwin Cummings currently playing in the NFL or William McGirt completing on the PGA Tour. In addition, the county is graduating some of the best high school basketball players in recent memory in South Robeson’s Nicorie Sinclair and Red Springs’ Glenn Patterson Jr.
All of them would make excellent additions but those athletes still have time to add many chapters to their stories. The hidden gems are the ones that helps make the Hall a unique place.
Not many people may have known about Taft Wright’s baseball career. Here’s a player that spent nine years in the Major Leagues with three teams and had a .311 career batting average. It would have been higher, but his last season at the age of 37 with the Philadelphia Athletics he hit a meager .235. Plus he lost three years during the prime of his career because of military service, who knows what he may have accomplished.
It’s stories like these that told and retold again and again because of a Hall of Fame. Hopefully the public will get behind the project and support it because it is part of this county’s history.
Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at (910) 272-6111 or [email protected]