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.
Subject: Sports and Entertainment
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.
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.
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.
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 Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1915, Robert Ruark became one of the state’s most prominent writers during the 1940s and 1950s. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, Ruark wrote for local newspapers until he moved to Washington, D.C. In the mid-1940s, Ruark gained popularity for his Washington Daily News columns, and he started writing fiction novels. His most popular work was Old Man and the Boy (1957), a semi-autobiographical work that details Ruark’s childhood with his grandfather in Southport, North Carolina.
North Carolina author Robert Ruark gained national fame for his Washington Daily News, Saturday Evening Post, and Field & Stream columns and his classic, The Old Man and the Boy (1957). In addition, Ruark followed in the footsteps of his hero Ernest Hemingway and traveled, hunted, and wrote about the African continent. Ruark published Horn of the Hunter: The Story of an African Hunt in 1953. It details his two-month safari.
Robert Ruark was one of North Carolina’s — and the nation’s — best-known writers of the 20th century. Some critics belittled the Wilmington native as simply a “Hemingway spin-off.” Ruark admired Hemingway’s lifestyle and work, true, but that’s a simplistic and unfair characterization of the nationally known columnist and novelist.
North Carolina was once the largest settlement area for Highland Scots who brought the Highland Games with them upon settling in the state. The Highland Games are Scottish sporting events, including tossing heavy objects and bagpipe playing, rooted in Celtic tradition. North Carolina’s largest Highland Games event occurs each July at MacRae Meadows at Grandfather Mountain.