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Catawba athletics: Hall of Famer, A.L. Brown coach passes away

Earl Baxter Lentz, Sr., 80, of Kannapolis died on Saturday, Jan. 24.

The Cabarrus County native was a tremendous baseball player at Catawba in the 1950s.

Lentz’s eight-RBI game  against Applalachian on April 4, 1955, remains tied for the Catawba single-game record.  His streak of nine consecutive games with at least one RBI bridged the 1955 and 1956 seasons. That record was  matched by recent sluggers, including Jerry Sands and Ryan Query, but never broken.

Lentz batted .340 for his career. His greatest achievement  was a 33-game hitting streak that began in 1955 and ended in the 1956 season.

That mark stood for 54 seasons at Catawba before Craige Lyerly topped it by hitting safely in 39 consecutive games in 2009-10. After his record was broken,  Lentz made it a point to meet Lyerly and shake his hand.

Lentz also played basketball at Catawba and scored 208 points for the Indians.

He graduated in 1956.

He was a schoolteacher 30 years — seven years at Bethel and 23 at A.L. Brown. He coached basketball, baseball and golf.

His 1967 and 1968 A.L. Brown basketball teams won Western North Carolina High School Activities Association championships.

For decades, Lentz  was a familiar face at A.L. Brown football games. He was the ticket taker at the front gate for 51 years.

Lentz was inducted into the Catawba Hall of Fame in 2006 and entered the Cabarrus County Hall of Fame last October.

Lentz’s wife, Betty Helms Lentz,  died in 1998. Lentz is survived by sons E.B. and Barry, both of Kannapolis, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

• Catawba has lost many Hall of Famers recently, including Tony Georgiana, Bob Flynn and John Scott, whose career in the 1960s was chronicled last week.

• Georgiana, a native of Altoona. Pa., died Dec. 24 at 93. He was  a hero of Catawba’s powerful 1940s football teams, both before and after serving in World War II.

Georgiana scored 28 TDs and rushed for 1,442 yards in an era when those were astounding numbers. He was all-conference three years and Honorable Mention All-America in 1942.

He also played baseball for the Indians.

• A native of Kentucky, Flynn, died at 79 on Dec. 28.

Flynn was a basketball captain at Catawba. He scored 873 points and performed heroically in the North State Conference tournaments of 1959 and 1960.

Flynn was named West Rowan’s basketball coach shortly after graduating from Catawba and was Rowan County Coach of the Year in 1962 .

He was named West Rowan’s AD in 1962 but left that post in 1963 to work for State Farm Insurance.

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