Hope Mills News

Koonce remembered as Mets celebrate World Series win

13KoonceThis fall will mark the 50th anniversary of the victory of the "Amazin'" New York Mets over a talented Baltimore Orioles team in the World Series. A veteran bullpen pitcher from Hope Mills named Calvin Koonce played a key role in that title, winning six games down the stretch for the Mets and earning seven saves.

Late last month, friends and family of Koonce, who died in 1993 at the age of 52, traveled back to New York to take part in a 50th anniversary celebration held at the Mets’ current home stadium, CitiField. 

Peggy Koonce, wife of the late Mets reliever, had a hard time believing it’s been 50 years. It was shortly after her husband’s death that she attended the 25th anniversary reunion.

Many of the former Mets stars have since died, players like Tommie Agee, Don Cardwell, Don Clendenon and manager Gil Hodges.

Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, the biggest pitching star for the 1969 Mets, was also absent. His family recently announced he is no longer making public appearances as he’s suffering from dementia.

One of Koonce’s closest friends on the team, Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, was unable to attend the 50th anniversary. Mrs. Koonce said her husband was a mentor to the younger Ryan, helping the flamethrower deal with control issues taming his lethal fastball. Ryan ended his career with the most no-hitters in major league history: seven.

The Mets treated the Koonces and the other families there for the 50th anniversary weekend firstclass, putting them up at the Plaza Athenee, which has hosted guests like actress Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana.

The ceremony held before New York’s Saturday, June 29, game with the Atlanta Braves took about 30 minutes. The deceased Mets were introduced first, with their pictures individually flashed on the giant video screen, followed by a live camera shot of the family member or members there representing them.

The living players were driven via golf cart to a platform in the infield. Lifetime Met Ed Kranepool spoke on behalf of the entire group.

“It was bittersweet because the health of so many of them has failed,’’ Mrs. Koonce said.

But the memories of the victory over the Orioles were still fond ones for her. “I think the thing that was so important was knowing we were playing the Orioles and they were so good,’’ she said. “We were a team not chosen to win it. We were holding our own, and the young pitchers were doing their job.

“When you’ve got Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman and a bullpen consisting of Calvin and Ron Taylor and all those guys, it looks pretty good.’’

Mrs. Koonce said she felt pretty special just sitting in the stands for that World Series, looking around and seeing the late Jacqueline Kennedy just a couple of rows behind her, and the entertainer Pearl Bailey not far away.

“Just seeing the look on Calvin’s face after it was all over,’’ she said. “It was just wonderful. The expressions of love they had for each other.’’

Also along for the 50th anniversary observance was Timmy Smith, who played baseball for Koonce when Koonce was first head coach at South View High School and later at Campbell University.

“Most anybody you talked with about Mr. Koonce talked about how he was a positive influence (on his teammates) and took them under his wing,’’ Smith said.

Smith added that Koonce had a similar effect on him. “He was like my second father,’’ Smith said. “He could tell you more by not saying things than he could with words. Just his looks and his motions.

“One player told me (Koonce) sold him a couple of sport coats, took him under his wing and took care of him and his reputation. Another person said it was great to have (Koonce) there to talk with because he could have made a lot of wrong choices along the way. Mr. Koonce helped

him make the right ones.’’

Hope Mills baseball team needs money for trip to World Series

12HM teamThe Hope Mills Nationals 8U baseball team will carry the North Carolina Dixie Youth Baseball state title banner to Ruston, Louisiana, in search of a championship. But to get there, they'll need a lot of financial support.

Jesse Cox, one of the coaches of the Hope Mills team, said a fundraiser has been started to try and cover the numerous expenses involved with getting the squad of 12 players and four coaches to their destination.

“We are looking at having to reuniform our team in North Carolina attire,’’ Cox said. “We’ll have some expense in that.’’

But that’s only the tip of this expensive iceberg. The distance by road from Hope Mills to Ruston is just under 1,000 miles and will take just over 13 hours by car. The tournament is scheduled to run July 26-30, and the Hope Mills team is hoping to rent as many as 20 rooms for the players and coaches. Those rooms will cost from $120-$150 per night.

Figuring out how to handle transportation is also a challenge. Cox doesn’t want to rent a full-sized bus. The team hopes to be in Louisiana for more than a couple of days, and a bus would not be a convenient way to make repeated trips to the ballpark and other places.

“We want to be more mobile,’’ he said, considering possibilities like passenger vans or carpooling in SUVs because of the large amount of baseball equipment they’ll need to transport.

Flying wouldn’t be cost effective, he said, unless someone out there wants to offer the team use of an airplane.

“They are a special team and group, and you do want to make it fun,’’ Cox said. But, he also noted, “I’m going down there to win that thing, to compete.

“The town and community should realize this is not only for Hope Mills but the state of North Carolina,’’ he said. “It gives us the opportunity to represent this town in a broad spectrum. We want to do everything possible to get these boys down there, to get them there and enjoy themselves.’’

Sponsorships are available for larger donors from $250 to $1,000. All major donors get their name or business logo on the team banner.

The team is also selling 50/50 tickets for cash only. A date for the 50/50 drawing had not been established at press time.

The GoFundMe web address for the team is www.gofundme.com/state-championship-bound. The page was originally created to raise money for the trip to the state finals in Brunswick County.

Editor's note: The Hope Mills 10U softball team came out of the losers bracket last Wednesday afternoon and defeated Lumberton 2-1 to win the 10U Dixie Softball state championship. In doing so, it become the second Hope Mills team advancing to a Dixie Youth World Series.

Hall remembered as leader with passion for schools

11Macky HallFormer coworkers at South View High School and friends from the education community remember McKinley “Macky” Hall Jr. as a devoted supporter of education who had a strong loyalty to his many friends in the South View school district. Hall, a former football coach, Hope Mills political leader and longtime school board member, died earlier this month at the age of 85.

Bobby Poss was head football coach at South View during Hall’s final years as the school’s athletic director. He had a special nickname for Hall no one else used, calling him Tiger One.

“He was so encouraging and supportive,’’ said Poss, who guided the Tigers to their only state 4-A football championship in the fall of 1991. “He was a great administrator but also a very good friend. That’s all he tried to do, be a helper. He was thinking and the wheels were turning.’’

When Poss arrived at South View in 1989, the school had never made the North Carolina High School Athletic Association football playoffs in its previous 17 years.

Poss was placing his first equipment order with Hall, and Hall asked if there was anything missing. Poss told Hall that at his previous job at Seventy-First, he always ordered new socks for his team to wear in the state playoffs.

“South View had never been to the playoffs, but Macky said we better order playoff socks,’’ Poss recalled. South View finished the 1989 season 9-4 and won the first two state football playoff games in school history.

“We ordered playoff socks and we got to wear them,’’ Poss said. “That was an example of the kind of encouraging he can do for a guy.’’

Poss said Hall did the same for other South View coaching legends like Randy Ledford, Ron Miller and Eddie Dees.

“I don’t think a coach ever felt slighted by Macky,’’ Poss said. “He was the first all-in guy before it became a popular term.’’

Greg West served with Hall on the Cumberland County Board of Education. He called Hall a pleasure to work with and someone who cared deeply about schools, both the buildings and the people in them.

“He didn’t raise his voice, and he spoke to the point and spoke his mind,’’ West said. “He wasn’t confrontational. He worked with people to try to talk you into seeing it his way.’’

Current South View athletic director Chad Barbour first got to know Hall five years ago when Barbour took over the position. Though retired, Barbour said Hall continued to show support for the schools, and especially South View.

“Anything you look at as far as South View athletics and the success we’ve had in the past is basically a direct reflection of his efforts here as athletic director,’’ Barbour said. “He was the engineer behind that great state championship run.’’

Over a period of about a half-dozen years just before and after Hall stepped down as South View athletic director, the Tigers won state championships in baseball, football, boys golf, boys basketball and softball.

“He got the right coaches in place, gave them what they needed, and they built somewhat of a dynasty through his leadership,’’ Barbour said. “That carried over for many years.’’

Even after his health began to fail, Barbour said, Hall was a regular at South View home football games and was instrumental in getting the school a larger, modernized press box. Unsuccessful attempts have been made to have the press box named in Hall’s honor.

“He held South View very near and dear to his heart,’’ Barbour said.

Former Cumberland County Schools student activities director Fred McDaniel coached with Hall when the latter was head football coach at Terry Sanford in the mid-1970s.

“He was really an advocate for kids,’’ McDaniel said. “As a board member, he was concerned with athletes, not so much winning and losing, but our integrity, making kids do the right thing. He worked hard for kids and their well-being, giving them the best opportunity.’’

Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner followed Hall's work as athletic director at South View and recalled he was a familiar fixture at town events, athletic fields and restaurants.

“He was involved in the community beyond being on the school board,’’ Warner said. “He was always very active until the last few months.’’ 

Warner said Hall was part of a special time when South View was the only school in Hope Mills, before Jack Britt and Gray’s Creek opened.

“It was the height of school spirt in Hope Mills,’’ she said. “That was when they decorated the town orange and black.’’ This was something that Tiger One certainly appreciated.

Photo: McKinley "Macky" Hall

Hope Mills Calendar

Meetings

For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113.

• Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee Monday, July 22, 6:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation Center

• Appearance Commission Tuesday, July 23, 6:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation

• Veterans Affairs Commission Thursday, July 25, 6 p.m., Parks and Recreation Center

Activities

Good2Grow Farmers Market Saturday, Aug. 3, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., between Town Hall and Parks and Recreation Building.

Hope Mills Area Kiwanis Club at Sammio’s, second Tuesdays at noon and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For details, call 910-237-1240.

• Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Senior programs at Parks and Recreation Building. Senior programs are for those ages 55 and up who are residents of Cumberland County. Various activities, especially Zumba classes, are scheduled Monday through Sunday throughout the day. For details on times and days, check the schedule at townofhopemills.com. You can call the recreation center at 910-426-4109 or e-mail Kasey Ivey at kivey@townofhopemills.com.

• Hope Mills Parks and Recreation is currently accepting registration for men’s and coed adult softball for the fall 2019 season. Registration will end Aug. 3 or when all leagues are filled, and the season will begin Aug. 12. The cost is $500 per team. For additional information, call 910-308-7651.

Promote yourself: Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

Hope Mills makes town history in Dixie Youth Baseball

17Hope Mills state champsHope Mills has had many Dixie Youth Baseball state champions, but last week, the Hope Mills National team made history by winning the town’s first 8U state championship.

In the championship round of the winners bracket at Lockwood Folly, they fell to Reidsville 10-7 for their only loss of the tournament but rebounded to win the title with a 10-2 victory over Reidsville.

Left to right: Coach Jonathan Ransom, Hunter Matthews, Dallas Lupo, Colby Cox, Tanner Parrish, Joshua Ransom, Colt Burns, Landon Lusignan, Gavin Bowen, Coach Joshua Lusignan, Noah Rivera, Coach Jesse Cox, Ziriyon Campbell, Aiden Peterson- McAlexander, Corey Cox and Coach Jonathan Lupo.

Hope Mills advances to the 8U Dixie Youth World Series, which will be held July 26-30 in Ruston, Louisiana.

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