Remembering a perfect game
Sanford sporting legend Richard Such pitched in the majors, won two World Series rings as a coach with the Minnesota Twins and is a minor-league pitching coach in the Boston Red Sox organization at age 68.
Before any of that, even before his high school career which earned his number being retired on Lee County High School's outfield fence, Such played for Budd Tire's PONY league team in 1958-59 as a teenager.
That team was very good, said teammate and childhood friend Bobby Smith. It wasn't as good as the previous year's Budd Tire team.
That squad, the first Budd Tire team, went undefeated, a perfect 25-0, in 1957.
Bobby's mother, Carrie Lynn Smith, can prove it. She has every photo, news clipping and scoresheet to show it.
"Budd Finishes Pony Season Without Loss" is the headline on a Sanford Herald article written by Brent Causey in 1957.
The '57-'58 team was Randy Faulk, Bobby Smith, Charles Davis, Douglas Husketh, Tommy Hamilton, Buddy McNeill, Bradley Shaw, Johnny Dalrymple, Wade Harrington, Robert Smith, Jimmy Colemand and Roger Davis. Adrian Smith and Pete Sasser coached the team.
Carrie Lynn Smith was scorekeeper and, as Bobby says, "everything else we needed."
"You mean I tried to be (scorekeeper)," she said. "I didn't know the first thing about it, but they gave me the book and I just tried to catch on."
"None of this would've ever started or happened without her volunteering all her time," said Faulk, who along with Bobby and his mom, are organizing a reunion of the Budd Tire teams from 1957-59 for Oct. 20 in Sanford.
The origin of the Budd Tire teams was a Cub Scout troop which wanted to play ball. So, the Jonesboro Little Demons were formed in 1955 and became part of the start of what's now the Little Tar Heel League.
There was no such team, league, or much of anything organized, at the time, said Carrie Lynn. The coaches, or the scorekeeper, would get on the phone and find anyone to play from Siler City, Pittsboro, Carthage, Robbins, anywhere to find a game. Woodland Avenue Park, now where Dalrymple Park is, was the Little Demon home park.
"It was just to have something to do, so we'd stay out of trouble," Bobby said.
The Little Demon roster - of 10 players - was Bobby Smith, Carl Smith, Wilber Moses, Randy Faulk, Gray Hall, Gary Griffin, Harold Griffin, Tommy Hamilton, Ben Avent III and Louis Foushee.
Two years later, now with a team of kids ages 13-14, and actual uniforms now thanks to Budd Tire's sponsorship, the barnstorming was still the same as the team went undefeated.
"We'd all pile into two or three cars, and off we'd go," said Faulk about road trips around central North Carolina for 2-3 games a week.
"They gave out hats and jerseys one day before the season," Carrie Lynn said, "and I remember being so proud because I got a cap, too."
She recalls, and gets reminded of, helping out Tommy Hamilton, one of the two main pitchers for the 25-0 team.
"He wore glasses," she said, "and I, in those days, wore these big, long, flowing skirts. So he'd get dirt on his glasses and between innings I'd use the skirt to clean his glasses."
Then there was at least once when the scorekeeper and ultimate team mom was too much a part of the action.
Standing beyond first base while the team was taking pre-game infield practice, a wild throw from third flew over first base and struck Carrie Lynn in the jaw.
"I had a broken tooth or two, but I think I stayed at the game," she said.
As a prize for the perfect season, Budd Tire gave the Sanford kids a memory of a lifetime. The team travelled to Washington to see the Senators play the Yankees at Griffith Stadium.
"I remember that game as good as anything," Bobby said.
"(Stacey) Budd paid $100 for that trip," Faulk said.
"I remember we gave you guys loaves of bread and made sandwiches, to take them into the park," said Carrie Lynn, who caravanned with the boys as far as Richmond in order to see a friend there.
Bobby and Randy remember seeing Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra live and in person in the days of box scores, baseball cards and, at best, a radio.
Randy remembers trying to throw a rock across the Potomac River.
"Those were the best of times, great times, it really was," said Bobby.
Back in Sanford, the kids worked throughout the summer and played ball in the afternoons and evenings.
"We worked in the tobacco fields in the morning," Smith said. "We made 50 cents an hour working tobacco."
"I worked at Winston's Grocery," Faulk said.
The Budd Tire coaches, Adrian Smith and Pete Sasser, were good baseball coaches. They were better role models.
"Winning was important, but it wasn't that important," Faulk said.
"They were teachers more than anything else," he said.
"We were taught a lot of manners," Smith said. "It was all, 'yes, sir,' and 'yes, ma'am' no 'ums' and 'whats?'"
Such joined the 1958-59 team, before going on to be a Yellow Jacket, play at Elon College, make the majors with the 1970 Senators and have a coaching career spanning four decades. Carl Beal, Sam Phillips, Connie Daurity, Bobby Gunter, George Parker and Joe Singles also were rookies on the second Budd Tire team.
The reunion will be the afternoon of Oct. 20 at Ron's Barn. Nearly everyone has said they're coming. A few of the former little leaguers have passed away.
Some of the teammates have stayed in touch regularly, through living, working and golfing in and around Sanford. Some have lost touch for years, until these recent plans, Faulk said.
"Seeing everyone again is going to be great," Carrie Lynn Smith said, "We're going to have fun."