Caldwell Sports Hall of Fame to Induct 4 New Members and Honor 2 Teams

LENOIR   –   The Caldwell County Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremonies are set for Monday, October 28th at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center.  Four new members will be inducted into the Class of 2019.  It marks the 31st class of inductees since the service project was started by the Caldwell County Rotary Club in 1989.  Ceremonies begin at 6:30 PM with a catered meal by Myra’s Catering.

The 2019 inductees are Johnny Hatton, a baseball star at Lenoir H.S. that was drafted by and played minor league baseball for the New York Yankees.; Bruce Sudderth, a multiple sport athlete at Happy Valley H.S. that became a golf professional; Ray Suddreth, long-time coach of both track and field and cross country teams at Hibriten H.S.; and Gary Phillips Jr, a recording setting running back for the West Caldwell Warriors, who will be inducted posthumously.

Two championship-winning teams will also be honored at this year’s banquet: The 1956 Granite Falls H.S. football team that won the 1956 state championship and the 1958 Lenoir Teener League All-Star baseball team that won the state and regional championships and was the national-runner up.

Johnny Hatton graduated Lenoir H.S. as an All-Conference football player and All-State baseball player.  He was drafted and signed by the New York Yankees organization in 1964.  Hatton played 2 years in the minor leagues and then enjoyed a lengthy career as a local semi-pro baseball player.  He played for the Broyhill Chiefs, Lenoir Shur-Pal Packers, Lenoir Furniture Kings, and Lenoir Oilers.  While playing for the Broyhill Chiefs, Hatton helped lead them to 4 NC semi-pro championships.  He also was a three-time participant in the National Baseball Congress of America tournament.

Bruce (Sudds) Sudderth graduated from Happy Valley H.S. and Appalachian State Teachers College.  He was a four-year letterman in golf at Appalachian State and won Conference and District NAIA Championships in 1962 and 1963.  Sudderth served as the golf professional at Blowing Rock C.C. and Cedar Rock C.C, golf director at Gaston C.C., rules official for the Senior PGA Tour, and tournament director for the Senior PGA/Champions Tour.  As a private golf instructor and coach, he has assisted 58 players that earned golf scholarships.  Sudderth has been inducted into the Carolinas PGA Hall of Fame and Gaston County Sports Hall of Fame.

Ray Suddreth graduated from West Mecklenburg H.S. and Appalachian State.  He coached the Hibriten H.S. track and field team for 30 years and cross country team for 27 years.  Suddreth’s teams won a total of 34 conference championships which included multiple championships for both sports and both women’s and men’s teams.  His winning teams included a Women’s track and field the State Championship in 1998, 2 Regional Championships, and 4 Regional runners-up.  Over 210 of his athletes qualified for the State finals, 4 earning All-State in cross country, and 64 individual medalists in track and field.  Suddreth was voted coach of the year 15 times during his career.

Gary Phillips, Jr graduated in 1992 from West Caldwell H.S.  He played all sports in the local Optimist youth leagues.  Gary Junior scored 5 touchdowns in a JV football game against East Burke.  Phillips was a two-time All-Conference halfback for West Caldwell and finished his career holding several school rushing records:  most yards in a single game (235), most yards in a single season (1,315), and most yards in a career (2,320).  He actively worked to improve race relations at the school and in the community in aftermath of two student deaths on campus in 1991.  Phillips enrolled at Lees McRae College and was a member of the football team.  Gary Junior was tragically killed on January 2, 1993.  West Caldwell has retired his football jersey #31.

The 1956 Granite Falls H.S football state championship team was coached by Robert Henry and Don Kirkpatrick.   Players on team were:  Ken Church, Max Hilton, Rex Watson, Wade Teague, Tommy Simmons, Lynn Cagle, Larry Teague, Cecil Munday, Wayne Jonson, Wayne Starnes, Tommy Wright, Michael Baxter, Benny Teague, Maxie Williams, Tommy Gilbert, Ricky Hamrick, Steve Simmons, Wayne Kirby, Jerry McIntosh, Junior Phillips, Cordell Austin, Lanny Elmore, Bobby Bumgardner, Carl Cannon, Johnny Carter, Vittoria Sannioto, and team manager Jackie Teague.

The 1958 Lenoir Teener Team All-Star baseball team was sponsored by the VFW Post 5381 and was comprised of players ages 13-15 from Hudson, Lenoir, Lower Creek, and Whitnel.  They won the state and regional championships and was the national runner-up.  The team was coached by Bill Frazier and assisted by Jim Price.  The All-Stars were: Jimmy Taylor, Steve McDonald, Jim Cooke, Steve Sumlin, Rex Cannon, Billy Abel, Bruce Winkler, Eddie Church, Tom Dula, Jackie Keller, Howard Early, Jim Watson, James Hatton, Barry Story, Joe Gibbs, and Larry Earp.

The four new inductees bring to 126 the number of individuals recognized during the 31 years of ceremonies.  Plaques for all previous inductees are displayed at the Civic Center.  Assisting the Caldwell County Rotary Club with the community service project is corporate sponsor, Blue Ridge Energy.

Tickets for the induction ceremony are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.  Advance tickets may be purchased at the Downtown Lenoir branch of Capital Bank and the Lenoir News-Topic.  For more information about the Sports Hall of Fame or to obtain a nomination form for future consideration, contact Chris Cole at 757-4048 or Karen Trivett at 828-244-5511.


Courtesy Release from Caldwell County Sports Hall of Fame