George “Buck” Hardee began his life, as well as his sports career in Whiteville. In 1943, he was the sparkplug of a Whiteville American Legion team that went to the national finals. Buck compiled a .657 average for the campaign and was declared the Legion Batting champion.
He graduated from Whiteville High School in 1944, and played baseball at North Carolina under the late Bunn Hern before World War II and a stint in the Navy interrupted his career.
After completing his military obligation, Buck entered Campbell College where he starred both in baseball and football, hitting .400 for the ’48 baseball squad and receiving all-state recognition on the football field as the Camels’ team captain in 1949. He moved on from Campbell to East Carolina, where he also was a sports star and received his BS in teaching in 1952. But Mr. Hardee gained his most fame as a baseball coach.
His teams enjoyed unprecedented success during his tenure at Post 10 and New Hanover High School. From 1959-84, Hardee served as head coach of Wilmington’s American Legion Post 10 baseball team and led his clubs to a 524-267-3 record that included five state titles and a pair of runner-up finishes. His 1970 American Legion squad is still the only one to advance to the American Legion World Series.
Coach Buck Hardee began his teaching and coaching career with New Hanover County in 1953. After assisting his mentor, Coach Leon Brogden, in coaching baseball and football at NHHS, Coach Buck held the position of Head Baseball Coach for 24 years, where he won 13 conference championships while compiling an astounding 396-133-1 record. Two of his teams advanced to the state finals, and the municipal field in Wilmington – where New Hanover plays baseball – was named in his honor in 1984. Along with teaching U.S. History, he also served as Athletic Director for the Wildcats. Retiring in 1988, Coach Buck was elected to the New Hanover County School Board.
Coach Buck Hardee’s honors include:
- 1970 – American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame
- 1990 – Campbell College Hall of Fame (Football)
- 1994 – N.C. High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame
Coach Buck Hardee died on May 9, 2005. He was 78 years of age. A college scholarship for $2,000 is annually awarded in his name to a New Hanover County baseball player.