Mount Ulla’s Ironman
By Mike London
Franklin Meadows and Bobby Boyd combined on a one-hitter as Mount Ulla opened the 1956 Rowan County League season with a 13-0 thrashing of Rockwell.
Five weeks later, Meadows closed the baseball season with one of the legendary ironman performances in county history.
Whenever Boyd, a great basketball player, was on the mound, Meadows played third base. Meadows delivered a game-winning hit to sink defending champion Granite Quarry 7-6.
Then the hard-throwing Meadows fanned 17 against Cleveland. He flirted with a no-hitter, but Nelson Myers beat out a roller to third base in the seventh inning.
When Meadows and his teammates pounded out 19 hits and beat East Spencer 20-8 for a 4-0 league record, it was clear Mount Ulla’s Hornets were headed for another championship.
Meadows finally lost when he dropped a 3-2 decision to Granite Quarry. He pitched a two-hitter and struck out nine, but Don Curlee’s two-run double beat him.
That lone setback didn’t prevent Mount Ulla from winning the Rowan County League, and the Hornets advanced to face Cabarrus County League champ Mount Pleasant in a best-of-three series to decide the Granite Belt Conference championship.
On Tuesday, May 15, Mount Pleasant jumped on Boyd early and won 7-2 to put Mount Ulla in a do-or-die position. To win the title, Mount Ulla had to win twice at home just two days after its setback at Mount Pleasant.
Mount Ulla did exactly that, sweeping a doubleheader 2-0 and 10-3.
The remarkable thing about the doubleheader is Meadows hurled both games. No one worried about pitch-counts then, and Meadows wanted the ball.
He threw a one-hitter in the opener to keep Mount Ulla alive, and Harold Graham and Gene Weaver backed him with key hits. Meadows was on the verge of a no-hitter once again, but Ted Auten singled in the seventh.
Mount Ulla trailed 2-1 in the second game, but the tide turned when a Mount Pleasant player slugged a homer but was called out for missing third base. That probably caused a mild argument.
Don Turman hit a long homer for Mount Ulla in the fourth to spark a huge inning and “Ironman” Meadows did the rest.
When Meadows’ marathon effort was officially in the books, he had worked 14 innings and allowed four hits. He fanned 18 and walked three.
Others have no doubt pitched doubleheaders and even won doubleheaders.
Salisbury’s Boo Blount posted five-inning and six-inning victories at Newman Park against High Point Central in 2001ó but it’s likely anyone has ever won two bigger games on the same day than Meadows did.
Four years after his double duty in the Granite Belt championship series, the “Ironman” played left field for the Salisbury Braves in the Western Carolina League and was a teammate of his famous older brother, Donald “Whitey” Meadows.
The other ironman in the story was coach Oscar Stradley, who guided Mount Ulla to a repeat Granite Belt championship in 1957 against Bethel.
A World War II veteran who died in 1993 at age 67, Stradley isn’t mentioned among the coaching legends, but he should be. He may have won more championships in fewer years than anyone in county history.
A Cool Springs native and Appalachian State graduate, Stradley left Stony Point High in 1952 to coach Mount Ulla’s athletic teams ó baseball and girls and boys basketball .
His first five years on the job, he was 210-75 with 17 Rowan County League regular-season and tournament championships and Granite Belt Conference championships. In that stretch, his boys basketball teams were 84-33, his girls basketball teams were 86-35 and his baseball teams were 40-17.
With Mount Ulla set to consolidate with Woodleaf and Cleveland to form West Rowan High School, Stradley went home to Iredell County in June, 1959, and spent most of his teaching career at Mitchell College.
His legacy for the seven years he spent at Mount Ulla was 22 championships ó nine for girls basketball, eight for boys basketball and five for baseball.
In 1957, the Post’s Jim Epting asked Stradley how he came out on top so often.
“There’s no secret,” he said. “I believe in teaching boys and girls how to win. Teach them anything else and you’re cheating them.”
Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or email@example.com.