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Woody's Ramblings
Monday, April 4, 2005

By Woody Peele

Pioneering 'Voice' overlooked

WNCT's Jim Woods, right, the creator and the 'Voice' of the original Pirate Sports Network, passed away in 2004. Woods, for decades one of the region's most beloved radio and TV personalities, maintained his ties to ECU even after the school took over the network. (Photo: Submitted)


The selection committee of the East Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame has issued its call for nominations for this fall’s class.

Over the years, I’ve had a keen interest in the Hall of Fame, having played a key role in its founding. Since I left the selection committee, I’ve continued to try and make my voice heard year to year, placing a number of people in nomination, and playing a key role in the naming of several to the Hall through contacts with members of the committee.

But there are still a number of people I believe richly deserve a place in the Hall of Fame. Until now, I really haven’t had that much of a forum to place their names in view of the Pirate faithful.

I’ve already turned in a list to Nick Floyd, who heads up the selection committee, but more voices raised in their support might be the key to getting some of them named to this year’s class.

First among those I’d like to see inducted is the late Jim Woods.

For years, Jim was the “Voice of the Pirates,” taking over the mike in 1965. When he first came aboard, WNCT radio held the rights to the “network,” which consisted of just a couple of stations. Over the next few years, Jim brought on board as many as 40 stations, making the blow-by-blow accounts of the exploits of the Pirates available to fans across the state and in Virginia.

In effect, this made Jim Woods the Father of the Pirate Sports Network.

He broadcast football, basketball and baseball, many times serving as his own engineer, lugging the equipment to the press box and back. On many occasions, he was the lone man in the press box, sending out the word to the Pirate diehards.

When East Carolina decided to pull the network “inside,” handing all of the operations itself, Jim continued to be a presence in ECU athletics, handing the PA at basketball games.

As a close friend of Jim’s, I witnessed, time and again, people coming up to him asking his opinion on Pirate sports. He always was friendly with the fans, giving them his impressions of the questioned situation.

Placing a media member into the hall is just as valid as putting in a contributor or a business manager, and Jim certainly deserves this spot.

Another person I’d like to see inducted is J.H. Rose baseball coach Ronald Vincent.

Vincent, still active in coaching, holds the record for the most victories in North Carolina history. His teams have won four state titles, and during his long career with the Rampants, he has qualified his team for the state playoffs nearly every year.

While at East Carolina, he was not a star athlete, but he has certainly brought fame to East Carolina as an alumnus, sending a number of his players on to the Diamond Pirates.

There are a couple of baseball players who have the credentials to make the list, Tommy Eason and Pat Watkins.

Pat earned 1993 first-team All-America status and earned Player of the Year honors for both the ECAC and the Colonial Athletic Association, leading the team in batting as a senior with a .455 average. He also led the team in hits (98), homers (19), runs (63) and stolen bases (29).

Tommy, now an assistant coach under Randy Mazey, led the team in home runs (17) and RBI (62) in 1990 and again in 1991 with 13 and 51, respectively. In a long line of outstanding Pirate catchers, he stands out.

Two women’s basketball players are also deserving, Tonya Hargrove and Gaynor O’Donnell.

Hargrove, who scored 1,532 points during her ECU career, earned CAA all-rookie honors in 1989 and was the 1991 CAA player of the year. She was later named to the CAA’s All-Decade team.

O’Donnell has to be one of the best point guards in ECU history. While she scored 1,015 points during her career, it was as a passer that she excelled. She holds the school record for assists in a single game (20), a season (300), and a career (833). During her senior season, she led the country in assists.

There are others, but these, to me, are the top candidates.

To contact the Hall of Fame Committee:

Send an e-mail message to; or write, Secretary, Hall of Fame Committee, 365 Ward Sports Medicine Building, Greenville, N.C. 27858-4353; or call 252-328-4600.

Nominations must be submitted by May 1, 2005.


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02/23/2007 02:43:51 PM

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