By CHRIS HOBBS
One of the things I spent a good amount of time on in my early sports reporting career was a push toward establishing a much-needed North Carolina High School Record Book.
It doesn’t seem that long ago – 26 years actually – that many of the state’s newspaper reporters who were assigned to prep coverage worked diligently together toward that goal.
In 1991, with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) media guy – Newton’s own Rick Strunk – and now-retired Tim Stevens of The Raleigh News & Observer leading the way, a state record book was brought to life.
The record book (pictured upper right) is no longer actually published but is updated and available online at NCHSAA.org, and it has really added to the history of high school athletics in the state.
One of the record holders I best remember (pictured below left on a baseball page) is Brien Taylor, a flame-throwing lefty from East Carteret High.
On an assignment to write about Taylor, who eventually was Major League Baseball’s No. 1 pick in the draft that year, I found an amazing talent.
East Carteret was playing Ayden-Grifton, and I can still hear the pitches Taylor threw. They weren’t that easy to actually see – he threw in the high 90s – but you could surely hear them. They sounded missle-like.
I remember interviewing a major league scout that night, who had to remain unidentified for obvious reasons (but he was a Braves scout) who had this answer when I asked if Taylor had the tools to be a front-line starter in the bigs.
His answer: Yes, he could actually go into a rotation now (as in 1991 while still in high school)as a No. 3 through No. 5 starter for many major league teams at that time.
Taylor ran into some off-field problems eventually and never made it to the big leagues but, man, he could throw a baseball.
He’s another in a long line of great athletes in the state of North Carolina… of which there are many that did not ultimately play pro ball.
Just reading through the state record book, reviewing the names, is a trip down Memory Lane. Try it some time.