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Past winners deserve their place in history

I have something that doesn’t really belong to me.


It’s a 65-year-old document that likely has great value to certain people. A friend of mine gave it to me a few years ago thinking I may be able to do something with it.


What I did was file it away, not knowing what to do with it. Now I’m trying to find someone who could take it off my hands, maybe to put it somewhere that would give it the notoriety it deserves.


In case you’re wondering, the document is the program of the “South Atlantic Region Men & Women Softball Tournaments: August 22-27, 1957.” The event was held in Canton, North Carolina, west of Asheville, and sponsored by the Champion YMCA of Canton.


What makes the program important to local folks is that the defending women’s champions were the Asheboro Bardin Rockets. Because of that, members of the Asheboro team are recognized throughout. 


For those of a certain age, it’s notable that the state softball commissioner was Smith Barrier, who was also sports editor of the Greensboro Daily News. He wrote the welcome to teams from Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas.


But back to the Asheboro women. Spread out through the program were photos and short bios of the 13 Rocket players. The first three were Jewel Kirk, catcher and outfielder; Gail Harris, utility outfielder and infielder; and Eunies Futch, pitcher. 


Notably, Harris went on to become Asheboro High School’s all-time scoring leader in basketball. Her bio reads, “Best prospective young ball player in state — only 14, exceptional offensive and defensive abilities.”


Kirk is said to be “extra fast, exceptional base runner.” 


Futch had been All-State 10 years, All-Southern two years and All-American in 1956 as well as State MVP in ‘54 and ‘56, Southern MVP in ‘56.


The next three Rockets featured are Lois Smith, centerfielder; Myra Bishop, left fielder; and Betty Poteat, pitcher. Smith is described as the club’s fastest player with lots of power. Bishop is said to be one of the team’s best hitters while Poteat had a pitching record of 8-0.


Featured next are Eckie Jordan, catcher and third base; Gaynell Haynes, shortstop; and Phyllis Snipes, first base. Jordan has been named All-State the past eight years and is “one of the club’s best players.” 


Haynes was State MVP in ‘55 and All-State for nine years. Snipes was All-State four years and led the league in home runs in ‘56.


Judy Coble, utility infielder; Pete Brown, second base; and Frances Cook, right fielder, make up the next three Rockets. Coble is said to be the “club’s most powerful hitter.”


Brown is a .440 hitter and All-State for 10 years. Cook made All-State for eight years and is called “best club has ever seen.”


Finally, third base fielder Joyce Hamlet is featured alone. She’s called “best in state in ’55” and “one of main reasons for club’s 23-1 record.”


There is a group photo of the team with all 13 women, their coach Bill Hasty and manager Bency Smith.


It’s interesting to note the Women’s All-State Team for 1956, the year before when the Rockets won the regional tournament. Of the 18 members of the imaginary squad, seven are Asheboro Rockets. They include Snipes, Brown, Jeannie Walker, Hayes, Cook, Jordan and Futch. Another member of the All-State team is Phyllis Routh of Grays Chapel.


Along with the team photo, the program has a story describing the defending champion Rockets’ route to the 1956 title. They won the state championship against five other teams, including High Point, which Asheboro had to defeat twice, including the championship game. Futch had pitched a no-hitter against High Point in their first matchup and hurled a 4-1 win in the title game.


In the regional tournament at Chattanooga, Tenn., the Rockets remained undefeated, earning the right to compete in the World’s Tournament at Clearwater, Fla. They were 1-2 in Florida.


So that’s the document I have in my hands. I need to know what I should do with it.


How many of those Rocket women are still alive? Wouldn’t their family members want the opportunity to see it?


Does the tournament program belong in a museum or some other place where people would have access to it?


If you can help me, let me know. My contact info is below.


Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189, larrypenkava@gmail.com.