Catawba Hall of Fame: Five Indians inducted
By Mike London
SALISBURY — Usually the old-timers lose Hall of Fame debates, as more modern candidates with gaudier stats crowd them off ballots and into eternal obscurity.
The late Red Richardson stroked his last college home run in 1949 and his last minor-league blast for Mooresville in 1950. Yet he entered the Catawba Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday in an upset — 60-plus years after his glory days.
Richardson’s selection was a tribute to the thoroughness of the Hall of Fame Committee. He could’ve easily slipped through the cracks.
A star from the little town of Star, in Montgomery County, he stood out in an era when Catawba played just 20 ballgames each spring. As a combination shortstop/center fielder, he drove in 58 runs, hit for the cycle and amassed an 18-game hitting streak while sparking three North State Conference championship teams.
Richardson batted .403 in 1947 and swatted seven homers in 1948 after being moved to the cleanup spot. His career average was .332.
Richardson served in the U.S. Navy before he came to Catawba. His given name was Charles, but he was a carrot-top, hence the nickname “Red.”
“Red” also thrived in hoops at Catawba. He played four seasons, was a co-captain for two, and scored 479 points.
He’s survived by a sister, who lives in Texas. Star mayor Susan Eggleston came to Salisbury to accept his plaque.
“I was a neighbor of his mother, and whenever Red came home, he was a hero, a celebrity,” Eggleston said. “He showed us that someone from Star could make it.”
Richardson made it big Saturday, joining 1990s stars Nick Sabol (golf), Stephanie McCormick (basketball), Heath Bost (baseball) and Charla Doss Hill (softball).
David Bennett was a master recruiter not just as a Catawba football coach but as a golf coach, and he enticed Sabol to come to Salisbury from Pennsylvania.
“I was 19, my dad drove me 500 miles down to Catawba, and then he drove off,” Sabol recalled. “And then the homesickness set in.”
He got over it.
He was SAC Player of the Year twice — as a freshman and as a senior. He was Division II Freshman of the Year and Honorable Mention All-America, and his career stroke average of 75.33 remains the lowest in school history.
He shot a 64 at the Country Club of Salisbury.
Sabol worked at local courses after leaving Catawba, but he’s now back in Pennsylvania as a business owner and golf instructor.
Charla Doss Hill
Hill was really a two-sport star because her career at Catawba straddled the transition period from slow-pitch softball as the 1980s closed to the fast-pitch version of the game in 1990-91.
She batted .457 in slow-pitch and .412 in fast-pitch. Her 14 triples in two seasons of fast-pitch remains a school record.
“They kept telling me I had to shorten my swing, but I never could,” Hill said. “I guess it worked out all right.”
Hill played competitively for many years after college, and says she “raised her children on the softball field.”
She taught at Salisbury and Central Davidson and has been at West Forsyth the last 14 years. She teaches math, and she has coached softball, basketball and volleyball.
She lives in Advance, in Davie County, and is married to Catawba graduate Johnny Hill, who played baseball and football for the Indians.
From 1993-95, Bost was one of the best pitchers in Catawba’s strong baseball history. He was SAC Freshman of the Year in 1993 and SAC Scholar-Athlete for 1995.
The 6-foot-3 Bost came to Catawba after a stellar career at Alexander Central High and with the Taylorsville American Legion team. The late Dick Williams, who recruited Bost, liked to joke that he mostly was recruiting the ham biscuits made by Bost’s mother.
“I came from a high school with an all-dirt infield,” Bost said. “So Newman Park, with that green grass, was heaven to me.”
Bost found a home on a powerhouse team that included a feisty senior second baseman named Brian Hightower.
Bost posted a 1.84 ERA for a championship club in 1993, struck out 258 batters in his career and went 21-8 in his three seasons.
Only three seasons because the Colorado Rockies drafted him in the 18th round in 1995.
He pitched 10 years in the minors, chasing the dream, and reached the Triple A level. For his pro career, he was 33-21 with a 3.69 ERA and fanned 528 while walking only 130.
Bost already has entered the SAC Hall of Fame. He lives in Hickory.
A 5-10 center, McCormick came to Catawba after a celebrated basketball and track career at Ragsdale High and became the first in the history of the women’s program to achieve the double milestone of 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. She finished her career with 1,250 points and a school-record 1,244 rebounds.
McCormick pulled down 374 rebounds as a freshman in the 1990-91 season to rank among the national leaders. That’s still Catawba’s single-season record.
McCormick had some incredible games, including a 28-point, 20-rebound outburst against Queens.
She ranks in the top six in Catawba history in blocks, steals and shooting percentage.
McCormick also reminded everyone of a lesser known mark that she probably shares.
“I took one 3-pointer — and I made one 3-pointer,” she said. “That’s 100 percent. Has to be a record.”
McCormick shared memories of Catawba’s 1992-93 season, a breakthrough 24-9 campaign. That team won District 26 and earned a trip to the NAIA national tournament in Tennessee. Catawba fell to Texas power Wayland Baptist in the first round.
“My mom told me she knew we were in trouble as soon as she saw them warm up,” McCormick confessed with a laugh.
A longtime D-I assistant coach, McCormick has worked at Western Carolina, UNC Wilmington, Charlotte, Georgia Tech and N.C. State and has been recognized for improving her post players and her ability to recruit talent.
On Saturday, she added another plaque to her long string of accomplishments.
“The Catawba Sports Hall of Fame tops all the honors on the list,” she said.