CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I was saddened to hear the news this week of the passing of longtime coach, teacher and administrator Billy McCoy.
He was a pitching star on the 1970 Charleston High baseball team that was one of the best in Kanawha Valley Conference history. He earned all-state honors, then pitched at Davis & Elkins and West Virginia State. Featuring such players as McCoy, Kenny Shock, Whitey Ferrell, Duke Haddad and Chuck Green, the Mountain Lions were poised to win a state title in 1970 when their best player, Ralph Jean, tragically drowned during sectional tournament play.
Inexplicably forced to play a sectional game on the same day as Jean's funeral, the Mountain Lions could not shake off their sorrow and were upset by Stonewall Jackson.
McCoy also could have been an outstanding high school quarterback, had he gone to school anywhere else. In junior high at Thomas Jefferson he was behind Trippi Adams, who would go on to great success at George Washington. At Charleston High, he would have been behind Ricky Hurt, who never lost a game in high school, won three state titles and won the Kennedy Award in 1970.
Not long after the state basketball tournaments, I received a small package in the mail from longtime state sports writer Gary Dove from McDowell County.
In it was a copy of the 1965 state basketball tournament program. As I looked at some of the teams and players that participated in that tournament at the old Charleston Civic Center, there were certain names that stood out.