Imagine being selected as one of the best two players of all time in a major university athletic program that has existed more than 100 years.
That is the honor bestowed upon Fayetteville’s Chris Cammack. The Fayetteville High School graduate and retired local businessman joins college roommate Mike Caldwell and their coach, Sam Esposito, in comprising the inaugural class of the brand-new N.C. State Baseball Hall of Fame.
{mosimage}The trio was recognized at halftime of the Florida State-N.C. State football game at Carter-Finley Stadium in October. Induction ceremonies will be held prior to a Wolfpack home baseball game later this season. Plaques of Cammack, Caldwell and Esposito will be mounted at the main gate to Doak Field, home of the Pack baseball team.
“I’m obviously flattered,” Cammack said of his Hall of Fame selection, “especially being one of only two players in the first class. Going in with Mike … well, that’s just the best. That is really special.”
Cammack and Caldwell roomed together all four of their years at N.C. State, and they were coached all four years by Esposito, who had a 10-year career as a major leaguer. As freshmen, Cammack and Caldwell led the 1968 Wolfpack to its only College World Series appearance in school history.
“That season is my fondest memory,” Cammack said. “Nothing has ever surpassed that year. It was magical. We weren’t expected to do much; talent-wise, we were about the fourth-best team in the Atlantic Coast Conference. We had to win the regular-season conference championship to go to the regionals, and we did that on the last day of the season. We ended up coming in third in the World Series.”
Cammack, a third baseman, batted .351 and drove in 19 runs as a freshman. For an encore, he set a State record which still stands by hitting .429 as he led the ACC in batting and with a .500 on-base percentage. He was named the ACC Player of the Year for his efforts.
A career .362 hitter, he was a four-time All-ACC first-team selection, one of only four players in conference history to be accorded that honor. Making it more meaningful is the fact that, in those days, voting for the all-conference baseball team was done by the league’s players. Being chosen by one’s peers is the ultimate honor.
Cammack was named an All-American his first two years and should have been selected as a senior, when he batted an ACC-leading .381 with four home runs and 20 runs batted in, both career highs. He felt it was his best all-around season, one in which he finished second in ACC Player of the Year voting to Caldwell, his roomie.
The two remain extremely close.
“He has been my best friend all these years,” Cammack said. “Actually, most of us from that 1968 team are close. We stay in touch with e-mails and phone calls. We had a 40-year reunion at State last year, and all but two players from the team w“Mike and I have talked about this (the HOF induction), and it means more to us than anything. It’s not just the Hall of Fame, but being the first two players chosen. (Current State baseball coach) Elliott Avent told us the vote of the committee was unanimous. They took a lot of time and looked at the statistics of players from way back.”
Surprisingly, Cammack never played professional baseball. He was drafted by the Washington Senators out of high school, was picked by the Philadelphia Phillies in the winter draft during his junior year at N.C. State and was taken by the Baltimore Orioles in the spring draft following his junior season.
“I was not going to sign early,” he said. “I had told my parents that I would finish college. I went to college to get my degree, and I got my degree. That’s what people did back then.
“After I graduated, I was ready to sign. I talked with Washington again, and they had me over a barrel. I had no bargaining power. Their offer was not what I thought it should be, not after the year I had just had for State. So I didn’t sign.
“I had always wanted to play major league baseball, but when it was over, it was over. I have no regrets. I have had a good life. I am blessed.”
Cammack made his mark in basketball at Fayetteville High School. He scored 23 points in the North Carolina 4-A championship game in 1966, helping the Bulldogs and Coach Len Maness to their second straight state title. He was inducted into the Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame in 2007.
A retired independent insurance agent, Cammack operated his own business the last 15 years of his career. He still lives in Fayetteville.

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