On Sunday, May 6th , the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame will welcome the 2018 inductees into membership at their annual banquet at the Wilmington Convention Center in downtown Wilmington. The Reception and Silent Auction will begin at 5:00 pm followed by the induction ceremony and dinner at 6:15 pm. The annual golf tournament will be held at Cape Fear National in Brunswick County on Saturday, May 5th at 9:00am.
The GWSHOF was formed in 2005 in order to honor those who have brought recognition to the Greater Wilmington area and themselves, by their excellence in the world of sports. Past inductees include Leon Brogden, Roman Gabriel, Wayne Jackson, Sonny Jurgensen and Meadowlark Lemon (2006 Class); Bill Brooks, Jap Davis, Tommy Green, Althea Gibson and Jack Holley (2007 Class); Buck Hardee, Clyde Simmons, Cathy Johnston Forbes, Hoss Ellington and Wray Carlton (2008 Class); E. A. “Spike” Corbin, Chester McGlockton, George Rountree III, Brian M. Rowsom, and Helen Grey Smith (2009 Class), Ben Bourgeois, Terry Holland, Joe Miller and Sherriedale Morgan (posthumously) (2010 Class), Sheila Boles, Bill Dooley, David Esposito and Wilver Dornel Stargell “Pops” (posthumously) (2011 Class), Dr. James Dineen, M.D., Isaac B. (Ike) Grainger (posthumously), Christopher Trot Nixon and Lendward (Lenny) Simpson (2012 Class), Kenny Gattison, Thell Overman (Posthumously), Martin “Glenn” Sasser and Maggie Will (2013 Class) and Ricky James Benton, Bob Boyd (Posthumously), Alge Crumpler and Calvin Lane (2014 Class), Chuck Carree, Mel Gibson, Jim Hebbe and Jim Moore (2015 Class), Gwen Austin, John Bunting, Larry Honeycutt and Charlie “Barrell” Niven (posthumously). (2016 Class). The class of 2017 included Dave Allen, Dr. Hubert A. Eaton, Sr. (posthumously), Bruce Lee Fleisher and Quinton McCracken.
The 2018 slate of inductees are as follows:
SAMUEL EDWARD BOWENS (Posthumously)
In 1956 Samuel Edward Bowens was All State as a senior at Williston High School in Wilmington, NC. He was a standout athlete in football as a quarterback and linebacker, in basketball as a center and in baseball as a shortstop.
Sam Bowens enrolled in Tennessee State University in 1956. He played quarterback on the football team. Sam was a member of the Tennessee State University Basketball Dynasty…the NAIA Champs for 1957, 1958 and 1959. He was on the baseball team from 1956-1959 as an outfielder. Sam was inducted into the Tennessee State University Sports Hall of Fame in 1983 for “his contributions and athletic performances.”
From 1950-1964 Sam had a respectful minor league baseball career playing in a number of cities, averaging around .274 during his 4 years. In 1963 he was elected to the International League All Star AAA team representing the Rochester Red Wings. His 1964 Topps Baseball card #201 highlighted his promising and productive minor league career.
In 1964 Sam began his professional baseball career with the Baltimore Orioles. In his first year he was at the Rookie of the Year recognition level. In 139 games he had 501 bats with 132 hits, 25 doubles, 22 home runs, including 71 runs batted in. in 1966 Bowens made a memorable play which was recognized by the Baseball Digest magazine for consideration as “Play of the Year.” In 1966 the Baltimore Orioles won the American League Pennant and they were the e played for World Series Champs. He played for the Washington Senators at the end of his career and then retired from baseball in 1969. Even after his
retirement from baseball, he continued friendships with form teammates. His former teammate, Fred Valentine from the Washington Senators said, “Sam was naturally athletic as a good hitter, good fielder and great teammate. He was devoted to sports, especially his love for baseball.”
Mr. Bowens passed away on March 26, 2003.
LAWRENCE COOK (Posthumously)
Lawrence Cook was a star pitcher for the Spotford Mills team in the late 1040’s and early 1050’s. He pitched several no hitters and helped lead his team to many victories. He was a member of the 1951 All Star Team representing Wilmington in the Southeastern North Carolina Tournament.
Mr. Cook is best known for his accomplishments in golf in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In 1957 Cook became the Pro at the Municipal Golf Course and remained there until his retirement in 1990. Sarah his wife handled the pro shop and Lawrence maintained the course for 33 years. During that time Cook won numerous titles including…..Top amateur in the Azalea Open 1952 and 1955, North Carolina Amateur tournament champion 1953, 1954 and 1955, Wilmington City Open Champion 1950, 1951, 1954, 1955, and 1956, Star News Advertisers Tournament Champion 1949, Wilmington Municipal Club Champion 1952 and runner up in 1954, Carolinas PGA Tournament Champion in 1952, Runner up in 1961 and 1964, Carolinas Open Champion in 1953 and Pine Valley Championship runner up in 1956.
Cook played in all 23 Azalea Opens, the former PGA Tour stop in Wilmington. Cook often worked through the darkest hours of the night and early morning at the Muni before driving over to Cape Fear to tee off in the tournaments.
Mr. Cook holds the course record of 63 at the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course since the mid 1950’s He had broken his own records by shooting 68, then 67 and then 66.
Mr. Cook passed away November 9, 1999.
Howard began in 1954-55 in Little League then to Pony League in 1956-57, on to Junior High baseball in 1957 where he played in and won the Championship. He also played in Junior Legion Baseball where they won the 1960 Legion State Championship. He also won the Legion MVP in 1959 with a 14-3 record.
During High School he played in 3 AAA Championship games and was on the winning team for all 3. He received the New Hanover High Key Club Award…Boseman Trophy/Most Valuable Award. In 1960 Howard turned down a professional baseball contract with the Sand Francisco Giants. He was offered baseball scholarship at Wilmington Junior College with Bill Brooks which he accepted.
In 1961 at Wilmington College his team won the National Junior College Championship. He was All American on the 2 nd team and in 1962 his team came in 2 nd place in the National Tournament. In 1963 he was offered scholarships from University of Tennessee, North Carolina State University but accepted a full baseball scholarship from Wake Forest. His first year his pitching was 9-2. Wake Forest was the first team A.C.C., 1 st team All State and won the A.C.C. Championship.
In 1964 Howard signed a Class A contract with the Pittsburgh. Then in 1966 he moved back to Wilmington where he became a teacher/coach in the New Hanover County school system. He retired in 1996 after 30 years of teaching and coaching. He continued involvement in Wilmington Senior Citizen Softball and helped Little League players with pitching skills.
Rivers was heavily recruited as a Hoggard High School standout. She led Hoggard to a 100 – 14 overall record and four consecutive conference and tournament championships in her four seasons starting at the point guard slot. Rivers, a 5-8 point guard from Wilmington’s Hoggard High School, was ranked as the 11th best point guard and 39th best overall player in the country by All Star Girls Report. She is a two-time Mideastern 4A conference Player of the Year and three time Team Most Valuable Player. She averaged 13.2 points and 6.1 assists her junior season while leading her team to the conference title with a perfect 12-0 record. Rivers was also nominated for the McDonalds All American Team, played on North Carolina’s Junior Olympic team, both North Carolina vs South Carolina All Star game, the North Carolina East vs North Carolina West games in 2000 and was runner up voting for North Carolina female athlete of the year. Rivers also had talent in volleyball. She was a three time conference MVP in volleyball and received 3 volleyball full scholarship offers. She then chose to accept a full basketball scholarship to NC State over UNC.
Rivers was welcomed to NC State by the late Legendary Hall of Fame Coach, Kay Yow. Rivers graduated from North Carolina State with a degree in Criminology and a minor in Sociology. During her freshman season, Rivers helped lead the Wolfpack to a Sweet Sixteen birth and captured the GlaxoSmithKline Welcome All Tournament team, tournament MVP and Rex Health Care player of the game awards. Rivers is ranked second in school history with the most assist in one game. Lead the ACC in Assist to Turnover ratio and made the All ACC defensive team her senior season. She was voted team captain her junior and senior seasons. Team voted Preseason Award, Best team supporter award, 110% effort award and Off Season Award. Following her graduation, Rivers was a European Professional player in Den Helder, Holland, where she led the team in capturing two National Championships. Rivers was first on the team in scoring and assists. The following years, Rivers played in Bensberg, Germany, Kotka, Finland and Lesno, Poland where she led the teams in points, assists.
After her playing career she decided to trade in her sneakers for some high heels and a seat on the bench as an assistant coach. She spent her 5 year coaching career in New Jersey. Rivers had the luxury to assist Hall of Famer Anne Donovan at Seton Hall University for three years. Coaching three student athletes towards all conference team honors. After that she spent two years under her former NC State Assistant Coach, Jennifer Palmateer at Monmouth University.
With her feet still on the playing court, Rivers decided to join the dark side and now spends her time as a NCAA Basketball Referee. Due to her strong leadership abilities, Rivers has a knack for helping others tap into their greatest potentials. Rivers owns her own Life Coaching business, Nanna Rivers Coaching and she manages Juice Keys, an organic Juice bar in Raleigh, NC.
BOB HARRIS – EMCEE
Bob Harris, the “Voice of the Blue Devils” is a Hall of Fame-inducted play-by- play announcer for Duke University men’s basketball and football teams. In his 40 seasons at Duke, Harris has broadcast 456 consecutive Duke football games (2015) and 1358 Duke basketball games (2016). His 1980 game career includes 41 ACC men’s basketball tournament games, 126 NCAA men’s basketball tournament games in 35 trips, 13 Final Four appearances, 11 national championship games and 5 NCAA Champion titles.
Harris was inducted into the Stanly County Sports Hall of Fame in 1993. He was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. Harris was named the 2011 North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, winning for the third time, following wins in 1988 and 1991.
Born in 1942, Harris grew up in Albemarle, North Carolina. Beginning in 1960, Harris attended North Carolina State University for two years before leaving college to work for Goodyear. He later returned to his hometown for a job selling insurance, where he began working part-time for WZKY in 1967. Harris volunteered to provide coverage of local football for the station, which led to him being hired as a full time sports announcer, as well as sports director for eight years.
In 1975, Harris and his family relocated to Durham where he had been offered a sales job with WDNC. A week later, he was hosting a sports talk show. Eventually, he served as color commentator to then-Duke sportscaster. Harris became the “Voice of the Blue Devils” beginning with the 1976 football season.
Nationally, Harris is best known for his play-by- play of Christian Laettner’s buzzer beater in Duke’s victory over the University of Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
In December, 2010, Harris published his autobiography “How Sweet It Is!: From the Cotton Mill to the Crow’s Nest,” recounting his storied career as the “Voice of the Blue Devils.” He has been courtside to witness all of five of Duke’s National Championship wins. Included with the book is an 80 minute CD that features some of Harris’ interviews, including Muhammed Ali and Red Skelton, along with famous radio calls like “The Shot.”
The book, which Harris spent five years writing, was scheduled for a March 2010 release, but delayed until December. “It was all set to be released, but then Duke won another national championship,” Harris said, “so I had to add another chapter for obvious reasons.”
On October 15, 2011 Harris celebrated his 400th consecutive Duke Football radio broadcast. During his football career, Harris has worked with nine coaches, has called plays for All-Americans and future NFL players. After 456 games, Harris maintains there is still an element of excitement to his work.
On February 9, 201, Harris’ call of a game between the University of North Carolina Tarheels and the Duke Blue Devils was said to rival his call of Laettner’s “shot.”
Harris called his 1,200th Duke men’s basketball game on February 16, 2012, and exciting game with the team overcoming a twenty-point deficit to defeat Harris’ alma mater, North Carolina State 78-73.
Lew Bowling, author and teacher at NC Central University and Duke University, declares that Harris is a “favorite among fans, and Duke athletes through the years have looked to this affable man as a father figure and friend. With Bob Harris’ voice in the Duke fans’ ears, many of us can say to him, How Sweet It Is.”
Photos of the inductees are available upon request.