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Sports - In Town and In the School

Baseball

1948 - Stanley's Top Pitching Staff
Ray Hovis, Forest Smith, Ted Abernethy, Bob Kennedy

In 1948 Stanley High School had a new baseball coach, Bill Royster, who the Gastonia Gazette of April 20, 1948 said "was fresh out of Wofford College." Stanley's success, according to the Gazette, depended on their good pitching staff."

On to the Professionals

James E. "Jim" Finger was a Stanley High School baseball player who went away to play ball as a pitcher in the "Big" Leagues. He played for the Hickory, Gastonia and Reids-ville, North Carolina Tar Heel and Bi-State League in Sanford, Florida.

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Bobby Elliott Caldwell went on to play professional baseball. Immediately after high school he signed with the New York Giants farm team in Lincolnton, NC Class C Ball. He moved up to a Triple A contract and went to Danville, VA to play. The Danville team did their spring training in Florida and it was while they were there that they were approached to be in a movie about baseball. The movie starred Vera Ellen and Edward G. Robinson and Bobby had a speaking part.

Everyone in Stanley who could make it crammed the Stanley Theatre to see Bobby deliver his lines in the movie. Pictures were shown in the local newspapers of Bobby with Vera Ellen and with Edward G. Robinson. The family has pictures made of Bobby with Dizzy Dean and with Joe DiMaggio and others.

 

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Another Stanley youth went on to play major league baseball. That was Ted Wade Abernathy. Born 6 March 1933, he was the son of Genora McGinnis and Wade Abernathy.

When Ted returned home after serving in the military he was signed by the Washington Senators. He pitched for the Senators and later the Chicago Cubs. Chuck Suggs, scout for the Washington team was quoted as saying regarding Ted Abernathy, "he is a kid with big ears and a heart. "He'll listen and he'll work as hard as they'll let him."

A lot of his games were shown on television and this gave home folks a chance to see Ted play major league baseball.

 

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Starting in 1957 Max Rhyne Sherrill, son of Jess and Katherine Rhyne Sherrill, played for a few years for the Chicago Cubs and the Minnesota Twins farm teams. He was a pitcher and once in spring training pitched against Mickey Mantle who hit a home run. Max played last in the Carolina League before retiring from baseball and returning home to Stanley.

Calvin Wesley Spargo and Johnny Dawkins also went on to play professional baseball. Doyt Morris and Hazel Clemmer also played some minor league baseball.


Basketball - 1920's thru 1950's

Basketball was the sport of choice for townspeople during this period of time. There was not only a high school team but there were teams supported by the textile plants in town. Both women and men had teams for the textile league. Both girls and boys had teams in the school league as well.

In the 1934-35 season the Katterman-Mitchell Stanley Women were declared the State Champions after a tournament in the Textile Hall in Greenville, SC. Grace Garrison made All Tournament in the Greenville tournament that year.

Wales Sigmon was coach of the Stanley High School Basketball team during the 1930's. From 1938 until 1941 his boys teams won 88 straight games. The boy's team of 1941/42 won the state championship.
Playing on the old dirt basketball court - 1936-37. Elementary School that later burned is in background

The Stanley School Gymnasium was built around 1939. Before that the basketball teams had to play outside on the dirt court beside the high school.

When World War II began Wales Sigmon left his coaching job and entered the military. James V. "Poke" Stroupe, Jr., age 18, then relinquished his job in the U. S. Post Office and became head basketball coach at Stanley High in 1941 and continued in that position until 1949. He had previously played on Coach Sigmon's Blue Bird team.

After World War II Wales Sigmon coached the Mt. Holly High girls team and later taught at Myrtle School in Gastonia until, in the 1950's, he returned to Stanley High to coach the girls basketball team. His girl's teams achieved many championship records including winning every one of their games during the 1956-57 season. The winning streak continued into the next year when the 1957-58 team won all their games.


Football

Coach Dick Thompson

Coach "Dick" Thompson

Coach Richard Monroe "Dick" Thompson came to Stanley in 1948 to coach football. He was the first full-time faculty football coach at Stanley High School. When he came to Stanley from Mt. Holly, several of the boys from Mt. Holly came with him and went to school in Stanley so they could play football for Coach Thompson - Jack Hinkle, Ralph Smith, Neb Hollis, Riley Skidmore, Archie Small, Ray Connor and Archie Huskins.

At Stanley High Dick Thompson coached boys in football, basketball, baseball and track. He was one of a kind, totally dedicated to athletics and young people.

By 1955 the boys on the football team that had started out in grade school, with Bill Smith as their coach, were now in high school, some in their senior year. They proved to be a force to reckon with as the season progressed.

As time would tell the 1955 season was tops in the 24 years that this fine mentor coached at Stanley High School.

One of his players, Charlie Handsel, made and held several records during his final year (1956-57) of high school. Charlie played baseball and basketball. He held for a short time a county record in the 100 and 220 yard dash in track. In football, playing tailback, he was the top scorer in Gaston County (192 points) and received an award from the Gastonia Gazette. Also his county record for the most yards rushed in a single football game (301 yards in a game in 1955) was held for thirty nine years, only being beaten in 1994. Charlie played in the Shrine Bowl in 1955.

During the last years of Stanley High School, the football team won ten games and lost only one for each of the years 1970 and 1971, a befitting finish for the coach who had given so much of his talent, time and concern to the players on his teams. In 1973 he was admitted to the Gaston County Sports Hall of Fame.

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