Cabarrus Hall of Fame: 2018 class announced

Published 9:12 pm Tuesday, September 18, 2018

By Mike London

CONCORD —  Bruce Hardin finally retired last summer after 50-plus years of coaching, guiding and motivating young athletes.

The 70-something Hardin, who played fullback for Appalachian State in the early 1960s, still has his sense of humor. He said he knew it was time to retire because the cost of his birthday candles had started to exceed the cost of the cake.

Hopefully, Hardin still has another big speech left in him, an acceptance speech. Best known locally for guiding A.L. Brown football to 3A state championships in 1989 and 1997, the Forest City native will be inducted into the Cabarrus County Sports Hall of Fame on October 27.

The 1989 championship club that Hardin coached already has been inducted into the Hall of Fame as a team.

Hardin (332-110), who coached A.L. Brown to eight conference titles in his 10 seasons, was inducted into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame nine years ago.

The Cabarrus Hall was started in 2011,  so it’s had to play catch-up for a lot of history. Another stellar class was recently elected.

Three teams  will be honored— the 1946 Kannapolis American Legion baseball state and regional champs, the 1971 3A state champion Northwest Cabarrus baseball team, and the 1968 Concord Logan Tigers, who won a state basketball championship for African-American schools.

Individuals in this year’s class include the Argo cousins, Don and Ken, who starred in football and baseball in the early days of A.L. Brown. Both were All-State football players, Ken in 1951 and Don in 1953. Ken was an All-American and played in a national all-star game in Memphis. Don played in the Shrine Bowl.

Tracy Johnson, a more recent A.L. Brown football player, will be inducted. Johnson starred as a fullback/linebacker for the 1984 Wonders, who finished as 3A state runner-up.  He played fullback for Clemson in four bowl games (three wins) and had three TDs against Penn State in the 1987 Florida Citrus Bowl. He played eight seasons in the NFL.

Two former A.L. Brown women’s basketball players will be inducted.

Tolonda Rose Simmons starred for the Wonders from 1982-85 and was all-district and all-conference. She led a team that went 16-0 in the South Piedmont Conference her senior year.

She was a starter for the Charlotte 49ers before entering the coaching ranks. In recent seasons, she’s made Hickory Ridge High in Harrisburg one of the state’s top programs.

Brenda Thompson Helms, who once scored 82 points in a game, was one of the great players of the 1950s at A.L. Brown, when the girls basketball team was known as the Wonderettes. In the 1958 season alone, she scored 888 points and averaged 37 per game. She played in the East-West All-Star Game before heading to Wingate.

Two Kannapolis baseball standouts from the pre-A.L. Brown era will be inducted.

Fred Chapman was a three-sport star in high school, played baseball at Wingate and played professional baseball in the 1930s and 1940s. He made it to the major leagues in 1939. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He died at 80 in 1997.

Dixie Upright  also was a World War II veteran and made it to the majors in 1953 after a distinguished minor league career. He homered off Hall of Fame hurler Bob Lemon. He died in 1986 at age 60.

Another baseball player from long ago, John Pare, a Miami native, was an ironman catcher for the Concord Weavers in minor league baseball in 1939 and 1940. He had a long career in baseball as a player, manager and scout and was instrumental in getting Little League baseball started in Concord. He died in 1998. His son, Ronnie, was inducted into the Cabarrus Hall in 2017.

Audrey Lee Smith Bost will be inducted. She starred for the Spiders in the late 1990s in basketball, volleyball and softball. She was the 1998 Cabarrus County Female Athlete of the Year. Her father, E.Z. Smith III, was inducted into the Cabarrus Hall in 2012.

Kenneth Moser, a 1960 graduate of Mount Pleasant will be inducted. He was a three-sport standout in high school and was on basketball and cross country teams at Wake Forest.

Concord boxer James Clary Phillips will be  inducted. He started his career at the Concord Boys Club. He won a number of amateur championships and fought for the U.S. Coast Guard boxing team.

Induction ceremonies are held at the Boys & Girls Club of Cabarrus County in Concord.