With this year’s induction, there will be 336 members in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
Caulton Tudor has written about many of them and now will be one of them.
Tudor, who will be formally inducted Friday into the sports hall, has spent nearly 50 years chronicling the finest athletes and sports figures in the state’s history. He has written about Dean Smith and Jim Valvano, once offering smokes to Smith, trading quips with Coach V. He has written about Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski. He has written about 18-year-old college recruits and senior golfers.
He was there when Lorenzo Charles’ dunk won N.C. State the 1983 national championship. He was in Pinehurst when the late Payne Stewart dropped that last putt to win the 1999 U.S. Open.
He also was at the 2006 College World Series when North Carolina’s Tar Heels came so close to winning and says, “I’d rather cover the College World Series than a Super Bowl.”
Tudor’s newspaper career began at the Raleigh Times, once the city’s afternoon newspaper, and then continued for many years with The News & Observer. He now works for Capitol Broadcasting, writing sports columns for WRAL.com.
Tudor has gone from typewriters to tablets, from cold type to cyberspace.
“You can’t be any luckier than I’ve been,” he said.
For Tudor, an Angier native proud of his small-town roots, some of his best interviews have come with people who “spoke his language.” People like former N.C. State assistant football coach Robbie Caldwell.
Tudor said Caldwell, then the Pack’s offensive line coach, had two good-ol’-boy linemen playing for him in the 1990s – brothers Jonathan and Kenneth Redmond, from Seneca, S.C. – and that something was said in a meeting about someone from Wilmington.
“Robbie said he heard one of the brothers tell the other, ‘You know, where they play that big tennis tournament’ and that he just didn’t have the heart to correct him,” Tudor said, laughing.
Those are the memories Tudor cherishes. The personal moments. People moments. Not just the interviews with sports giants, covering events on the biggest stages, but conversations that will resonate with readers, that make for good stories, good sportswriting. Few have done it better than Tudor.
Lenox Rawlings, a retired Winston-Salem Journal sports columnist and a 2015 N.C. Sports Hall of Fame inductee, might have put it best:
“Tudor is Tudor – unaffected and unvarnished, natural to the core. He represents the best in us, as curious reporters and genial North Carolinians. He would no more put on airs than he would put on socks in August. In many ways, Tudor is North Carolina of a particular time and place, the time as a sportswriter covering nearly half a century and the place as familiar as a noisy gym.
“He played all night in our longest basketball game on record – 13 overtimes, Boone Trail over Angier on Leap Day 1964 – and has chronicled most of the state’s major sports developments since then. He is the living encyclopedia because he has known all the characters, living and dead.”
Tudor, 69, chuckled recently when asked if there was anything missing, anything he could change, anything he wished he could have covered.
“Darn right,” he said, “Angier beating Boone Trail in a basketball tournament.”
2017 N.C. Sports Hall of Fame inductees
The Wilson native won all-star football and baseball honors at East Carolina. Bass signed with the San Diego Chargers, then was traded to Buffalo, where he played five years before being traded to Houston. As a rookie for the Bills, he caught 50 passes in 1961 and was named the team MVP. He was a member of Buffalo’s AFL championship teams in 1964 and 1965.
The dynamic 5-8 guard played of West Charlotte High School, then averaged 29.4 points a game in his career at Catawba College. Dwight holds Catawba records for most career points as well as for most points in a game (58) and highest single season scoring average (32.1). Dwight toured with the Harlem Globetrotters, then became a teacher. He now lives in Charlotte.
As head baseball coach at North Carolina, the Asheville native has led the Tar Heels to six College World Series trips and UNC has twice been the runner-up. In 18 years at Carolina, his teams have advanced to the NCAA tournament 15 times. Also coached at N.C. Wesleyan (1983-98).
The Roseboro native and former N.C. State star was a 2011 ACC Women’s Basketball Legend. The ACC Rookie of the Year in 1995 was a two-time All-ACC selection as well as a Kodak All-American. She had her jersey retired at State and received the school’s Kennett Award as the top female student-athlete for 1998. She played 12 seasons in the WNBA and 14 years overseas and was inducted into the N.C. State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014.
A native of eastern North Carolina, Sutton founded ISP Sports in Winston-Salem after having served his alma mater, Wake Forest, in athletics. He grew ISP into the pre-eminent college media and sports marketing company in America. When IMG acquired ISP in 2010, Sutton became chairman and president of IMG College, leading its growth into a nearly a billion dollar enterprise with more than 200 university partners nationwide.
Vacendek was a key player on two of Duke’s Final Four teams of the 1960s. During the 1965-66 season, he averaged 13.3 points a game on a team that included Bob Verga, Jack Marin and Mike Lewis. Vacendak was a second-team All-ACC pick that year. After leading Duke to the ACC tournament title and taking MVP honors, he was voted ACC Player of the Year. He played three seasons in the ABA, then began a varied career that included serving as assistant athletic director at Duke and basketball coach at Winthrop.
The Norlina native was a mainstay on the U.S. Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team and is an Olympic gold medalist in the sport. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois where she received a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and was a member of the school’s national championship wheelchair basketball team. She now is the head coach of the team at Illinois where she is working on her doctorate in Adapted Physical Educations.
Source: N.C. Sports Hall of Fame