Callahan: Catawba legend in two sports

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Staff report

Benny Callahan, an outstanding baseball and basketball player at Catawba, died Tuesday in Concord.

Callahan would have celebrated his 50th birthday in May.

Callahan received the Kirkland Award as Catawba’s top male athlete in the senior class of 1980 and was inducted into the Catawba Hall of Fame in 1994.

Callahan was a power pitcher and power hitter for Catawba baseball teams. He belted 23 homers, including 14 his senior year, and dominated on the mound.

In basketball, Callahan was a tremendous shooter for a 6-foot-7 player. He hit 53 percent of his field-goal attempts and 80.5 percent of his free throws. Operating in the era before the 3-point shot, he scored 1,352 points in three seasons and averaged 16.7 points a game.

An all-district player in both sports, Callahan became a full-time baseball player after he was drafted by the New York Yankees.

He reached the big leagues in 1983 and pitched in four games, including two starts, for the Oakland Athletics. He won his major-league debut in late June, pitching the A’s to a 7-1 win over the Kansas City Royals, but a shoulder injury derailed his career.

Callahan was the son-in-law of former major leaguer Vern Benson and is survived by wife, Robin, and two children.

A full story on Callahan’s career will appear in a future edition of the Post.