It has been too long since I posted here- both because of the length of my textile processes posts, and because it has been the height of summer, and the yard, the garden, vacations and birthdays have taken up my time. Sorry!
In line with both textiles and summer is the topic of baseball; particularly the textile league team of Asheboro’s Acme-McCrary hosiery mill. The 1937 McCrary Eagles team is pictured above, because in that year the team won the North Carolina semi-pro state title and went to the national championships in Wichita, KS (they lost there). Pictured above are (left to right, and front to back): Pat Short, Hayes Harrington, Sam Lankford and Jack Underwood (bat boy); Mal Craver, Guy Clodfelter, Neely Hunter (Manager), John Griffin, Jack Cox and Bob McFayden; Paul Cheek, Lester Burge, Hal Johnson, Mike Briggs, Gates Smith, Hooks Calloway, Tom Burnett, Red Norris and Charlie Barnes (Trainer).
Baseball goes back a long way in Randolph County—Trinity College was playing UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State as early as the 1880s. The Deep River textile communities joined in the “Deep River League” at least by the turn-of-the-century, and the games between those communities were cut-throat contests for community pride and pecking order.
The McCrary Eagles baseball team was assembled starting in 1933 or 1934; by the 1940s there was also an Eagles basketball team. I’m being vaguer than usual on these dates because I’m really writing here about a group of artifacts, not the team as a whole.
In May of 2007 I met a very nice guy from Troy, Jerry Parsons, who played American Legion baseball in Asheboro on the fabled teams of 1967-1970, with players who were legends at the time- Jimmy Dollyhigh, Scott Rush, Mike Voncannon, Keith Green, Larry Hollingsworth, and Tommy Raines. Jerry walked into my office and offered to sell me a virtually complete McCrary Eagles uniform. He had bid it in at the estate auction of Bud Scarboro in the 1980s. Bud was the long-time operator of the Gulf Service Station in Wadeville, NC, and had been born in Mt. Gilead.
Fifty years before his death, Bud Scarboro played on the 1934 and 1935 McCrary Eagles teams. Like many southern boys of the time, baseball ran in his blood, and in his family. His brothers Ray and Junior also played for the Eagles at some point, and his cousin Ray Scarboro pitched for the White Sox and for the Yankees in the 1952 World Series.
Along with the uniform came eight snapshots processed by the “Flying Film Company Inc.” of San Antonio Texas. They were apparently taken in 1934 or 1935 (both dates are written on the photos) at a game played in Randleman between the Eagles and a team from Oak Ridge.
In the first group of three, Bud Scarboro poses for the camera in his Eagles uniform, the same one I bought from Jerry Parsons. I have everything shown except the cap, the belt and the shoes, and what the real thing best illustrates is how much black and white photographs bleed the vivid life out of the scene.
The actual uniform is a surprisingly thick, scratchy cream-colored wool; the lettering, stockings and Eagle arm patch add vivid blue and red accents to the ensemble.
(The stockings I received are obviously not the solid blue or red ones worn by the team in all their pictures, but these have been well worn all the same.)
The uniforms were top quality- made by Spalding, supplier of Major League uniforms. Bud was a size 42- large even by modern standards, but positively chunky by the measure of Depression-era scrawny Southern boys.
4 Not pictured in any of the action photos, but being worn in Wichita by Mal Craver and Hooks Calloway is the warm-up jacket, a heavy weight wool jersey with brown trim and an elaborate blue eagle on a red circle.
The eagle clutches gear and lightning bolt symbols which show that it was modeled, if not stolen outright, from the National Recovery Administration Blue Eagle. The NRA was a New Deal Agency created by one of President Roosevelt’s National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933. It was led by Hugh Samuel Johnson, a retired US Army general and businessman, who saw the NRA as a national crusade to increase employment, reduce “destructive competition,” and regenerate industrial production. The program was ruled unconstitutional in 1935 by the US Supreme Court, but most of it reappeared later that year in the National Labor Relations Act.
The NRA was popular with workers because it set the first minimum wage laws. The Blue Eagle (said to be a stylized Art Deco version of the tribal American Thunderbird) was part of a successful publicity campaign which made “voluntary” membership in the NRA effectively mandatory. Since any business that supported the NRA could put the symbol on shop windows and packages, businesses that didn’t were often boycotted. Branding its baseball team with the name and symbol was obviously meant to show that Acme-McCrary was a big supporter of the NRA!