One of North Carolina’s most prolific baseball players, Jim “Catfish” Hunter excelled on the baseball mound from his young days in Hertford to his last professional years with the New York Yankees. Catfish was known for his precision pitching, and he won five World Series during his 14 year career in the major leagues. The all-star pitcher retired in 1979 to his family home in Perquimans County, and he passed away in 1999 after battling Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Every June, the community of Spivey’s Corner hosts The National Hollerin’ Contest. Once used by farmers and rural neighbors to communicate across long distances, hollering fell away at the beginning of the twentieth century because of telephone use. The Hollerin’ Contest seeks to preserve the lost art alive, and nearly 3,000 tourists visit Sampson County to learn and celebrate it at the folk festival.
One of the largest and most ornate buildings in colonial North Carolina, the Tryon Palace was built in the late 1760s at the behest of its namesake, Royal Governor William Tryon. John Hawks was the architect, and the government assembly chambers and the house were dedicated on December 5, 1770. Increased taxes to pay for the palace’s construction angered many Piedmont colonists. After the American Revolution, the palace burnt down in a fire in 1798. In 1959, after efforts to restore the site, Tryon Palace opened as the state’s first historic site.
The Durham Bulls, North Carolina’s premier minor league baseball team, played their first game in 1902 as the Durham Tobacconists. Durham attorney William Bramham helped organize the team and popularize minor league baseball in North Carolina. The Durham Bulls is named after the Bull Durham tobacco-advertising icon, and as of 2012, the Bulls are the Class-AAA affiliate team of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
In Simkins v. Cone (1963), the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that two Greensboro hospitals had discriminated against African American doctors and patients. Before the case, most North Carolina hospitals were segregated, and those designated solely for black patients offered only sub-optimal healthcare. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, and Simkins became the first time a federal court applied the Fourteenth Amendment to private racial discrimination.
Born on June 1, 1926 in Mount Airy, Andy Griffith studied at UNC-Chapel Hill where he majored in music. Griffith worked as a teacher for several years before starting his career as an actor, starring in the play No Time for Sergeants, a Broadway show that opened in 1955. Five years later, Griffith starred in his most famous role as Sheriff Andy Griffith in The Andy Griffith Show. Griffith starred in several other television movies and shows, including Matlock before his retirement to Dare County. The actor died on July 3, 2012 from heart complications.
Operated by the Jefferson-Pilot Corporation in the Charlotte area, WBTV was the first television station in the Carolinas. The station aired its first program on July 15, 1949, but the Greensboro-based WFMY-TV soon followed with its first broadcast in the months to come. WBTV was the first television station to videotape episodes, to mount and operate a live camera in a NASCAR race car, and the first to use closed captioning during evening news programs.
Born in Johnston County in 1922, Ava Lavinia Gardner became one of Hollywood’s most popular starlets in the 1940s and 1950s. She attended Rock Ridge High School and Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College), and in 1939 her big break in film occurred. While visiting her sister in New York a photographer took several pictures of Gardner who later sent them to the MGM talent office. MGM signed Gardner to a seven-year contract and her acting career began. Gardner appeared in several classic films including The Killers, One Touch of Venus, and the classic musical, Show Boat.
Originally created due to the increase of traffic on North Carolina roadways, the North Carolina Highway Patrol was commissioned on July 1, 1929. The first Highway Patrol class drove Harley-Davidson motorcycles and assisted stranded motorists, administered first aid in emergency situations, and pursued lawbreakers on the state’s highways. As of 2012, the State Highway Patrol employs over 2,300 officers, radio specialists, engineers, and civilian staff.
One of the premier college newspapers in the United States, the Daily Tar Heel started publication in 1893. UNC students originally paid 5 cents per issue for the weekly newspaper. The newspaper is now a free daily. Some of North Carolina’s most well-known writers and publishers edited the Daily Tar Heel. Notables include Thomas Wolfe, Frank Porter Graham, and Jonathan Daniels.