Will Anybody Care?

May15/ 2000

….. (1)  I’ve attended 4 of the past 5 NC Sports Hall of Fame Banquets. The average age of the 400+ attendees exceeds mine.  Uh oh!  I’m walking down Life’s 15th Fairway.  Is there anyone “on the front nine” that cares about this noble venture? …. (2) As expected, the commencement column stirred you up. ….. (3) James K. Polk did very fine things as POTUS ….. Who Knew?

I maintain that there are more jerseys in the Dean Dome rafters than there are UNCers that have actually read Look Homeward Angel.  Holden probably has.  In a related surmise ….. Even fewer UNCers know anything about UNC’s one POTUS Alum – James K. Polk.  Other than having “a Place” named for him, do you have the slightest clue what James K did of significance?

Polk’s election in 1845 may have been more of a shocker than Dewey Beats Truman.  Henry Clay was picking out slip covers for the East Room when Ol’ Polk said “not so fast, Hank.”  During his brief tenure he opened up THE GREAT AMERICAN WEST.  He was Mr. Manifest Destiny.   Kit Carson, among others, ably assisted but Tar Heel James K. Polk was the guiding force.   It was a big deal.  Otherwise WE might be the “illegals” in Arizona !!!

Polk may have had less charisma and more actual accomplishments than any POTUS we’ve ever had.  When his one term was up he went home and promptly died of a gastro-intestinal malady.

Now you know ….. lots more about James K. Polk than you did.  Read Blood & Thunder by Hampton Sides and learn even more.  “Read anything” (….. immigration laws, health-care bills, etc) and you will learn things.


Every place, every group and sub-group seems compelled to establish a Hall of Fame.  Other than Cooperstown,  Canton (NFL) and Springfield (BskB) they all tend to be really really important to a relatively small group of people ….. and increasingly less so the further one gets from wherever that HoF is located.

Lenoir County has as “a Sports Hall of Fame”.  Does Goldsboro have one ?  Smithfield has the Ava Gardner Hall of Fame.  Ava is it’s only member.  Pinehurst used to have The World Golf HoF.  They closed it and tore the building down.  No one noticed for three years.

The new NASCAR HoF is opening in Charlotte.  “They” say it will draw bazillions of folks to Charlotte, staying for weeks in fancy hotels and eating lots of expensive meals.   I’ll probably go someday.  Havng never seen a Hornets or Bobcats game;  don’t hold your breath, Charlotte.

All HoFs share one thing in common.  The FIRST induction class of 8-10 people is a “lock”.  Everybody agrees on Richard Petty, Babe Ruth,  Dr Naismith, etc …… then it starts getting dicey.  Within 3-4 “classes”, family members stop speaking to one another ….. grown men are cussin’ ….. angry partisans are fuming.   The “get-ins” are quite happy and very appreciative.  The “don’t get ins” are NOT happy.  Friends of “don’t get ins” write nasty letters and button-hole people.

A public school board is THE worst “board” to ever be on.  Being on “the board” of a HoF is the second worse.  Homeowners Assoc boards are #3.

The NCSHoF is a very fine entity.  It’s been around since 1962.  I’m privileged to know 12-15 of its 240 members personally.  They all would have gotten my vote if I had a vote.  I don’t.

Among this year’s class was #23 from Garden City – Don McCauley.  Any naysayers?  Of course not.   The reason it took Don so long to get in is a “residency requirement”.   Eligibility requirements are kept secret so the “don’t get ins” can think “somebody has it in for me”.

Actually, Frank McGuire is NOT in because Jackie Murdock does hate him. ….. That other #23 – Michael Jordan – is NOT in because he won’t agree to attend his own induction ceremony.  Such petty silliness is part of the charm of HoFs.

UNC Field Hockey Coach Karen Shelton was also inducted this year.  ……  Field Hockey ????  Lots of quizzed looks …. and very polite well-deserved applause.

As noted, the only attendees at the banquet below Baby Boomer status were blood kin of inductees who had to come.  NOT a good sign.  Yes, the evening was a bit “hokey” but DAMN IT ….. “hokey” can be good.  Nice people honoring other nice people is just fine.
Organizations like the NCSHoF are “good”.   America – apple pie – Chevrolets – etc.  They preserve segments of our history at a time when public schools only teach “selective history” in a very selective fashion.  George Whitfield winning over 1,000 baseball games as a high school coach doesn’t make that cut.
I do hope some enthusiastic youngbloods will step up and get involved on “the NCSHoF board”.  I’m not optimistic.  Add this to an ever-growing list.  ….. sigh.

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