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Henry's Highlights
Thursday, June 10, 2004

By Henry Hinton
Broadcaster & Owner of Greenville Cable 7

Return to Columbia stirs the echoes


This weekend’s Super Regionals in Columbia, SC, will bring back memories for some former Pirate baseballers. It is not East Carolina's first trip to Sarge Frye Field to try and advance in the NCAA Tournament.

The first time was 1977. ECU had just taken the Southern Conference crown by defeating The Citadel the week before. In those days just 32 teams participated in the tournament and the Pirates were sent to South Carolina for a four-team regional field.

That weekend was filled with great baseball and stars past, present and future.

The other teams were host South Carolina, coached by legendary former New York Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson, Wake Forest, and Georgia Southern, which was coached by another former major league great, Eddie Stankey.

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Stankey became famous in the late 'forties as a Brooklyn Dodgers teammate of Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball's first black player. Stankey had been one of the Dodgers who had started a petition against Robinson but later became his friend and supporter.

The Pirates ultimately were eliminated that weekend and the Gamecocks advanced, but not before some illuminating moments.

South Carolina featured a speedy centerfielder with a vicious bat by the name of Mookie Wilson. Wilson would go on to star for many years for the New York Mets.

Former Pirate player Raymie Styons, who was the catcher for that ECU team, has a vivid memory from that weekend.

“Mookie Wilson could run like a scalded dog,” said Styons. “I had been told he hadn’t been thrown out stealing all year, but the first time he went down I got him.”

Styons was a member of a team that featured some of East Carolina’s finest baseball players from that era, including Billy Best, Eddie Gates, Mickey Britt, Sonny Wooten, Bobby Supel, Jerry Carraway, Pete Paradossi and Pete Conaty, who doubled as the Pirate place kicker during the football season.

Those 1977 Pirates were coached by first year skipper Monte Little, who coaches the highly successful junior college program now at Pitt Community College. Future Pirate head coaches Hal Baird and Gary Overton were assistants on Little’s staff that year.

That weekend is even memorable for yours truly. The late Jim Woods and I did the radio broadcast live from Columbia that weekend. It was one of my first ECU broadcasts. During East Carolina’s first game against Wake Forest, a long fly ball was headed over the right field fence at a critical moment in the game.

As I recall, Jim did the call something like this. “There is a long fly ball to right field. It’s going back….back….back……”

At that moment, in my excitement, I stood up to see if the ball would clear the fence while Jim continued his call of the play. Accidentally, I pulled a wire loose when I stood.

Folks at home never heard Jim as he continued his play by play and the ball cleared the fence for a Wake Forest home run that doomed the Pirates.

Rookie mistake.

Hopefully the team and the broadcast crew will have more luck at Sarge Frye Field this weekend.

Big save for Herrion

The announcement that Greg Herenda will stay at ECU as the top assistant to Bill Herrion came with a huge sigh of relief by the Pirate head coach this week.

Herenda had been wooed by University of Virginia Coach Pete Gillen in recent weeks to join his staff in Charlottesville.

With the coaching staff just a few weeks away from heading back on the road for summer recruiting, the timing could not have been worse had Herenda headed north.

Herrion got good support inside the university to give Herenda a healthy raise and promoted him this week to Associate Head Coach.

Now, Herenda can continue to help Herrion build Pirate basketball as he has done in recent years.

Word is that Herenda will be heading overseas again in the near future in search of some help from European players. Herenda discovered Moussa Badiane in Paris, France, a few years back and has continued to develop contacts in that area.

Cardio Center still in legislative limbo

The General Assembly is still hell-bent on leaving Raleigh by the Fourth of July and it has taken a little longer than anticipated to get a budget done.

A check of sources in Raleigh on Tuesday led us to believe that East Carolina’s Cardiovascular Diseases Institute still has a good chance of making it before the holidays.

House Speaker Jim Black has backed off his unorthodox financing plan for the project and is now believed to support the certificates of participation funding method passed in the Senate two weeks ago.

However, there is still the issue of other projects from around the state that Black and co-speaker Richard Morgan insist will be in a bill when passed and sent back to the Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight has encouraged the House to pass the bill with just the ECU project and the UNC-Chapel Hill cancer center attached. Someone will have to blink on that issue.

The best opportunity for ECU to get a deal in this legislative session still rests in the hopes that a conference committee from both chambers can hammer out a compromise before legislators get antsy and want to go home for the summer.

Expect this issue to heat up in the House of Representatives in the next few days.

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02/23/2007 10:13:40 AM

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