This all started as research for a book. A big one. An opus. A “door stopper,” as one potential publisher described it. Biographical profiles for every one of the 419 men from North Carolina who played major-league baseball would probably consume 600 pages. Publishers balked at the prospect. No one would buy such a hefty tome, they argued, especially one that became outdated the moment another kid from North Carolina made it to the majors. Cut it back to something more manageable — the 100 greatest players or some such — and get back to us.
I may, in the end, do that, but I can’t abandon these players to merely appease the whims of the publishing industry. They all have stories to tell. Many are untold. Most reflect the history of North Carolina and of a sport that was once unrivaled in America. I owe it to them to tell all those stories here where length doesn’t matter and turning a profit isn’t the motivation.
I’ve been kicking around the idea for this project for almost a decade now, Retirement a couple of years ago provided the time. The coronavirus gave me the inspiration. You ain’t here forever, the virus whispered, especially old guys like you. If you’re going to do this, dammit, you better do it now.
So I’ve started.
This will likely go on for the next couple of years. This site, then, is a work in progress, I’ll post new profiles as I complete them. So check back often. I’ll alert you through Facebook or send you an email if your like. Just fill out the “Subscribe” form on the home page.
Though the site isn’t the snazziest on the web, it does include include some features that make finding particular players or groups of players pretty easy. Completed profiles are linked to the players’ names in the alphabetical indexes. You can search by position in the “Category” drop-down menu. Tags allow players to be grouped by birthplace, residence, college or team.
As for me, I’m a retired newspaperman. I hope they lead my obit with that when the time comes. I spent almost 30 years in newsrooms, the first several as a sportswriter and editor. I’m the author of three books you’ve likely never heard of, and I’m also a hopeless baseball fan. Baseball has been one of the few constants in my life since childhood. The Rolling Stones and Paul Simon are the others. Baseball is the only sport I ever really cared about. Some others I tolerate. I played it through high school and study it to this day. At one time, it really was America’s Pasttime and reflected who we were as a people. I think some of that comes out in these profiles. While you’ll meet a few drunks, charlatans and rowdies here, most who played the game were decent men who had skills few possessed. Some made it big; most didn’t, but they managed to make a living. That, too, is story of all of us.