Archibald Alexander “Alex” Malloy was a Major League Baseball pitcher for the St. Louis Browns in 1910. His professional career was short-lived, however, lasting only one season that saw Malloy compile a 0-6 record.
In any other instance, Malloy’s career would be considered unremarkable. Yet when he suited up for the Browns, Malloy became the first athlete in Scotland County history to play in the big leagues in any sport. It’s a fact that may appear as a random trivia question, or fade into obscurity as the years progress if nothing is done to preserve it.
The importance of such sports-related history hasn’t gone unnoticed by Scotland County Parks and Recreation athletic superintendent Al Blades. And it’s precisely why Blades hopes to one day erect a Scotland County sports Hall of Fame enshrining the counties’ rich sports legacy for generations to appreciate.
“We have a huge amount of athletic history here in the county that most people don’t know about,” said Blades, who has been affiliated with Scotland County Parks and Recreation for more than 35 years. “It’s important for us to preserve this history, not just for the younger generation who live in the now but for the entire community.”
When he first moved his office into the John Blue House, Blades had a dilemma to solve: What could he do with his catalogues of Scotland Sports memorabilia that had filled his home to near capacity? Blades opted to move a portion of his athletic equipment, newspaper clippings, jerseys and odd items into his office space, which quickly became a highlight for the visitors of the house when they stepped foot inside. After leaving the premises approximately 10 years ago, most of the material which hung in Blade’s office was moved to the Scotland County Museum located directly across from the John Blue House.
Material such as a leather helmet that once adorned the head of a Laurinburg High School football player in the 1940’s. Or the baby shoes of Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Willie Jones, who was a member of the “Wiz Kids” who played the Yankees in the 1950 World Series.
“School groups would tour the house, and they would always stop in my office to check out my stuff,” said Blades, who owns in upwards of 200 different items related to Scotland County sports history. “The interest is there, and the best athletes in Scotland today will surely like to be remembered themselves in the years to come.”
As of now, there are no concrete blueprints, committees or funding dedicated to Blade’s pet project. All he has is a vision and a “five year at the most” timetable for the project’s completion. But if everything falls into place, athletes such as Sam Jones and Wes Covington will see a yearly induction into the Hall of Fame, complete with a retired jersey, donated items, a plaque and possibly a guest speaker on hand to formally complete the ceremony.
Jones was a guard for the Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics in the 50’s and 60’s who won 10 NBA championships, and was also included on Sports Illustrated’s “50 greatest basketball players of all time” list. Covington, meanwhile, was an outfielder for the Milwaukee Braves when the team made two consecutive World Series in 1957 and 58. Covington (at the time a recent minor league call-up) was credited as the spark the Braves needed to win the championship in ‘57.
Of course, the Scotland High School 4-A state championship wins in baseball (1977, 2006) and in football (2011) will be chronicled as well.
“From way back until now, Scotland County has always been recognized throughout the state for good sports programs,” Blades said. “But many of the surrounding counties in North Carolina have a sports hall of fame, and I think that we’re due for one as well. Especially considering where Scotland sports are heading into the future.”
In addition to the high school, Blades ensures that all of Scotland County will be represented. The Laurinburg Institute, St. Andrews University, Dixie youth sports and Optimist Club programs will each have their accomplishments on display.
“This will be a community project in every sense, because I want feedback from as many people as possible,” Blades said. “If we can get it up and rolling, it’ll be something that even the average every day sports fan can appreciate and enjoy.”
Interested in seeing a Scotland County sports Hall of Fame, and have ideas or donations that you think will help? Contact Al Blades at 910-277-2589.