Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Top 5 all-time athletes from Mecklenburg County

The O List gets a heaping helping of hometown flavor, with the best five athletes to come out of Mecklenburg County — ever. Should Stephen Curry be on this list? Hey, give him some time. Feel free to throw in your choices in the comments section below. These are my five:

5. JIM BEATTY, Charlotte Central High: The first man to run a sub-4 minute mile indoors, clicking off a 3:58.9 effort in 1962, covered live on “Wide World of Sports. That year he broke 11 American and three world distance running records. Beatty (above, in USA sweats) was a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team and an all-American at North Carolina.

4. FLOYD “CHUNK” SIMMONS, Charlotte Central High: A sports everyman who won bronze medals in the decathlon in both the 1948 and ’52 Olympics. Simmons (above) also played tailback for North Carolina and even had an acting career, including a part in the 1958 musical “South Pacific.” Simmons was still competing in Masters field events into his 80s.

3. RAY DURHAM, Harding High: A remarkable second baseman who has spent 14 seasons in the major leagues. Durham (above), also a prep football star, was quick and fast and had surprising pop for a 5-foot-8 player. Normally a leadoff hitter in his prime, he hit as many as 26 home runs in a season and stole at least 20 bases for eight straight years. Not a great fielder, but good at getting on base. He’s a two-time all-star with a .277 lifetime batting average.

2. BOBBY JONES, South Meck High: Ironically, No.2 on our list played on the same Sabres’ team as No.1, and won a state title. Jones (above), who was 6-9 but mobile and quick, went on to star at North Carolina and then become a professional defensive whiz, a selfless passer and the NBA’s best sixth man for many years. In a 12-year pro career, Jones was an eight-time all-defensive team pick and a four-time all-star.

1. WALTER DAVIS, South Meck High: The purest baseline jumper you will ever see. Davis (above), a 6-6 swing man, followed Jones to North Carolina after playing for two prep state champions, then almost helped the Tar Heels to the 1977 national crown. He was the 1978 NBA Rookie of the Year with Phoenix, and went on to make six all-star teams and to average more than 20 points in six different seasons. Over a 15-year career, he averaged 18.9 points, 3.8 assists and 3.0 rebounds.

— Stan Olson

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Antwan Jamison?

Anonymous said...

As much as he was a great baseball player, Ray Durham was also a great Wide Receiver & Defensive Back for the Harding High Football Team. He once scored 5 TD's in a game w/a 100-yd interception return for a TD!! He was a great athlete.

Anonymous said...

No Kelvin Seabrooks?

Anonymous said...

No Dwight Clark?

Anonymous said...

No Tommy Helms?

Vanessia said...

Go South Meck Sabres!!!

Anonymous said...

Good list...

Anonymous said...

No George Pappas?

Anonymous said...

Sorry but Seabrook, Helms, and Pappas didn't go to Carolina. I can only imagine that the writer must have been too old to recognize Antwan Jamison.

Anonymous said...

Papas and "Twan"

Anonymous said...

I would have loved to see the Bobby Jones and Walter David play on the same HS Team. Can you imagine the recruiting interest in today's society?

Anonymous said...

Skipper Beck. Nobody in this town was a better diver.

Anonymous said...

Jamison? Chris Leak? Anybody born since 1970?

Anonymous said...

Are you serious about Curry or just attempting to drum up controversy?

jeff said...

Uh, this a serious list? Then where is Mark Maye, a legit 3-sport HS star.

Anonymous said...

Mark Maye, yeah right! What Steve Griffin, who was the standard to which running backs are measured? What about the greatest basketball player ever from NC, but had a troubled past...Johnny Edwards. If Johhny hadnt got into all thet trouble, it would have been Edwards and Worthey at UNC. What about Andre Crawford of Harding, ROman Phifer, who has several Super Bowl rings, etc. This list should be the top 10 or top 15... By the way, the two tops on this are....South Mecklenburg Sabres,,,A school where edcuation really does count....

Anonymous said...

South Meck may have gone downhill in the last few years but it wasn't always like that. I know more than a few people who have been incredibly successful who went to South.

Frankie said...

Dwight Clark was not only a great college and pro football player, but a great basketball player and track athlete as well. No way he misses this list...

Anonymous said...

How about Roman Phifer. Former South Meck star, linebacker for UCLA, 13 years in the NFL with 3 Super Bowl rings (Patriots).

Anonymous said...

Mike Eppley from Harding H.S.- went on to start at both football QB and basketball PG at Clumpson.

Anonymous said...

Helms, Eppley...what about Andrea Stinson, she was in a class by herself at North Meck

Anonymous said...

WTF??? ARE YOU SERIOUS OBSERVER?

Roman Phifer?


Antwan Jamison?


Chris Leake?

How old are you punks on there? Floyd Simmons and Jim Beatty??? I can somewhat agree with the top two but you're IDIOTS.

Anonymous said...

Have we so soon forgotten Hoyt Wilhelm, Huntersville High, and Whitey Lockman Thomasboro High?

Wilhelm was in played in over 1,000major league games and is in the Major League Hall of Fame. His 124 relief wins is still a major league record. He pitched a no-hitter against the New York Yankees. (I saw that game on black and white TV - North Carolinian Enos Slaughter hit a pop fly to right field for the final out.)

Whitey Lockman from Thomasboro High was no slouch either. He was outstanding and appeared in 1,666 major league games. (I played against him in high school basket ball in 1942.)

Interestingly, both of these Mecklenburg boys hit a home run in their first time at bat in the major league.

Observer Sports said...

Some of you kind of miss the point; this list is to start a discussion, and we knew you would never be able to limit the pickings to 5. That said, Jamison, who we keep seeing mentioned, was NOT from Mecklenburg County. Another list will eventually have the top Charlotte-area athletes...Stan Olson

Anonymous said...

What are you talking about? My cousin went to Providence with Antwan Jamison in the 90s. Last time I checked, Providence was receiving money from CMS, was taking students from Mecklenburg Country, and was physically located in Mecklenburg County. But I dont know, a lot may have changed since I left my house this morning...

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that women are athletes also - keeping with the South Meck Sabres theme - how about Marcy McClanahan - a 3 sport all-county selection (volleyball, basketball and track) who went on to star for the Wake Forest women's basketball team? I went to school with her and there wasn't a better example of a true scholar athlete - she was on the academic honor roll as well as winning all of the athletic honors during her time at South.

Anonymous said...

Jamison not from Mecklenburg County? Please explain.

Anonymous said...

Well I do know that Melvin Stewart held the world 200m Butterfly for quite some time!!!

Anonymous said...

I went to school with Antawn Jamison (yes, that's how his name is actually spelled) and that includes his days at Quail Hollow Junior High and Providence High School. You may be referring to the idea that he wasn't born here but I'd definitely classify him as a product of Mecklenburg County since he received his education and coaching from CMS schools from Junior High until his graduation in 1995 from Providence High School.

Observer Sports said...

Actually, My Bad--Jamison qualifies. And to be honest, he simply slipped my mind while putting this list together. Andrea Stinson almost made the list; we may have to do a female list at some point. There are so many out there...maybe we should have made it an O List Top 50...
Stan

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see Jim Beatty. He absolutely deserves to be on the list, maybe even higher.

Anonymous said...

What about Jeff Reed? Two time Super Bowl winner.

Fritz Smith said...

Anyone who questions Chunk Simmons being on this list is clueless. He probably should be first considering he completed in the decathlon in both the 1948 and 1952 Olympics. Jim Beatty also has to be on the list. Walter Davis also. After that, lots of great athletes like Dwight Clark, Bobby Jones, Ray Durham, Antawn Jamison, Jimmy Kirkpatrick, Brick Smith, Roman Phifer, Mark Maye, Mike Eppley, etc.

But ANY list has to include Simmons, Beatty and Davis.

Anonymous said...

Leak,Clark and Jamison were the three biggest omissions

how about Todd Fuller? he was at Independence before private school. Led ACC in scoring one year, draftes ahead of Kobe,Nash

what about Jeff McInnis.like him or not, he played forever in the NBA. West Charlotte

Observer Sports said...

That's what's great about this list. We can argue all night. Keep throwing out names; we may revisit this thing at some point...
Stan

Anonymous said...

Walter Davis never actually played on the same team with Bobby Jones. South was so good that they didn't need Walt on the varsity and he played JV ball as a sophomore.

Anonymous said...

Antawn obviously. McGinis is another. Haywood Workman, Myers Park basketball and in NBA for many years and is now an NBA ref.

John Ratterree said...

Enjoyed your article concerning the O List. I do think you had the numbering wrong. Mr. Beatty should have been first. Eleven broken records and three world distance records puts him in a different position. Stephen Curry scores a lot of points and should be considered when he matures, but he still developing.

Anonymous said...

If you were to mention Jeff Reed, you'd have to mention Mike Cofer who won two Super Bowls with San Francisco. He went to Country Day. That being said, because you were on great teams, and may be a great kicker, that doesn't equate to a great athlete.

Lynn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynn said...

Interesting to see how Stephen Curry was looked at several years ago. I think it's fair for him to be on the list today.