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Oral History Interview

Norfolk, Virginia
May 22, 1975
by James R. Sweeney, Old Dominion University

Listen to Interview

Second Interview: May 29, 1975


Sweeney: Today I’m pleased to be interviewing Arthur B. "Bud" Metheny, who for many years has served in a variety of capacities in the department of health and physical education and on the athletic coaching staff at Norfolk Division and then Old Dominion College and Old Dominion University. First, Mr. Metheny, could you tell me about your own undergraduate years at the College of William and Mary? In what sports did you participate?

Metheny: Well, I participated in baseball and basketball and then one —— freshman —— year in football, which I wasn’t supposed to play because I was sent to William and Mary by the Yankees, and they paid for my education back then, and I signed a contract to play professional baseball when I was 17. My mother signed the contract. Now, that was all right back in those days because they didn’t turn in the contracts to the commissioner of baseball until you began playing professional baseball. And so, as a result, I was able to play at William and Mary for four years.

Sweeney: After your graduation —— because you’ve already described, more or less, why you chose to participate in professional baseball I wondered if there was any particular reason why you signed a contract with the New York Yankees?

Metheny: Well, you know, they were the prestige ball club back in those days, and they gave me the opportunity to get an education, which I wouldn’t ever have gotten, and they gave me three choices, Duke University, William and Mary, and Holy Cross. And being a Virginian, I guess that’s the reason


I picked William and Mary because the other two schools did have much better baseball programs at that time. But William and Mary had such a fine name, and I wanted to go to school, and so they gave me this opportunity.

Sweeney: I would like you to discuss your professional baseball career and recollect the highlights, especially your three seasons as a regular outfielder for the Yankees during World War II.

Metheny: Well, I was fortunate to be in a team that had a winning way, and, while I was in the minor leagues before getting to New York, I came to Norfolk, we won the pennant, went to Kansas City, we won the pennant, went to Newark, we won the little world series, went to New York, we won the world series. And so with baseball I was fortunate to play with such great athletes and have the opportunity to play before such crowds and for such a great organization. But, as a whole, my four years with New York were very pleasant, and to be able to compete with athletes of that type and such great stars that were so much better than you were, like DiMaggio, and Williams and Dickey and all of those great stars. And so it gives you something to work with later on; you know what competition is.

Sweeney: Could you provide some recollections of Joe McCarthy, the famous Yankee manager of the 1930’s and 1940’s?

Metheny: Well, I’ve talked to players that have played for other managers as well as Joe McCarthy, and they say that he is head and shoulders above all that they have ever played for, and they’ve played for some of the people that are considered great managers. And I can honestly say that he is a great, was a great handler of personnel; it didn’t matter whether you were a rookie or an established star. You were an individual and he treated you as such and that’s the way he operated. And if he hadn’t operated that way, I don’t know if he’d have been able to handle so many stars on one team so successfully. This was his big asset.. Now he was a very intelligent man. He could talk to you on any phase of education, whether it was literature or history or whatever it may be; he was very well versed, and so, as a result, this overlapping of education and athletics made him a great man. He was never a great baseball player; he was just a great student of the game, and he knew people.

Sweeney: When your contract was sold to the Boston Red Sox in 1948, did you expect to play regularly in Boston?


Metheny: No, my contract —— I was at the end of my string, and I was hurt before I ever got to the big leagues, and so I was really on my way back. And I was sent to Birmingham, and they asked me to manage a rookie team for them in a Georgia State league, which I did one year, and that was 1948. And while I was there —— or before I took the managing job I was in Birmingham, and Scrap chandler called me and asked me if I’d like to teach here at Norfolk Division of William and Mary, and I said, "I have just stopped playing baseball at the end of the season." And so I finished out the year there; we were very successful therewith this bunch of young fellows, and I enjoyed it, but I wanted to get into this field, and it was at home, so everything was ideal. And that’s the reason that I stopped right off. And then, after I came here, the next year, 1949, Mr. Lawrence, who owned a Portsmouth team, needed an outfielder, and so he asked me to play at night times at home until the school year was out, and then in the summer I played for him full time. In 1950, about the middle of the year, the manager of the Newport News Dodgers, Al Campanis, who is now the general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, he stepped down as manager, and they asked me to come over and finish the year out for them, which we did, and we had a very successful last half year, of which I was very proud. And that was the end of my professional career.

Sweeney: You have already answered the next question, so let’s go on to number eight. In your early years at the Division, I was wondering if you found it difficult to schedule opponents for your own junior college basketball team?

Metheny: We did. When I first came here, we started off playing city league teams, church league teams, service teams, and things of this type. And then we went from there to junior varsity teams and freshman teams, then four year schools. And that was the progress. We had to start from nowhere and get going, and it takes time, especially when you don’t have money.

Sweeney: You did endeavor to schedule games with the freshman teams of the four year universities. I was wondering how much success you had in this and also what was the disadvantage of playing service teams?

Metheny: Well, the disadvantage was that we had at that time —— most of our athletes were good high school athletes. We had one or two that were college athletes, whereas the service teams, they had all of the top athletes. And we were over our head then playing those teams, same as we are right now over our head with playing the Atlantic Coast and teams of this type. But we’re beginning to grow up, which we did then, so you have this period of transition where you have to take your lumps, and then you start handing out a few.


Sweeney: I’d like you to describe the physical facilities for baseball and basketball at the Norfolk Division when you took over as coach, and when did you start playing baseball at Larchmont Field?

Metheny: Well, the facilities here were what we called the Old Administration building, which was a high school size gym and then a much smaller gym and then a 25—yard, four—lane pool. Outside of that we had no outside facilities. The stadium was rented to the city, so we were only able to use that in the spring of the year, and it isn’t large enough to put a baseball field in. We did have track there. We had a fine track. The facilities that we have used ever since 1948 were provided by the city of Norfolk, which is Larchmont Field. And they kept it up for us; they were very good to us. The facilities for basketball —— I've spent many an hour sanding that floor, refinishing it, to save money because we just didn’t have the money. We used to have to furnish our own cars to go on trips, and things of this type. So the conditions weren’t the best, but it was a joy. And we had the support of everybody. It was a unique situation in that everybody knew that our kids were doing great under the conditions. And the faculty, the administration, everybody was behind our program.

Sweeney: You’ve already answered the next question, so we’ll move on to the one after that. What kind of talent was available to you at the Division when you assumed the duties of basketball and baseball coach?

Metheny: Well, we had, as I said, some fine athletes, but we didn’t have a whole lot, like we’d have one, maybe two, and then the rest were all local athletes, by the way, and they did well because this is a productive area, but naturally, being a junior college and on a very low scale athletically minded, at that time, the top athletes were recruited by the bigger schools, and naturally they went away to school. But we had in those early years, we had one boy, for instance, that comes to mind, is Joe Agee, and he, after playing two years here went on to William and Mary, made the All Southern Conference team, and was captain of the William and Mary team. So Joe was a fine athlete, and we did have one or two good ones that came here, and so they carried us through the early years.

Sweeney: You mentioned, then, Joe Agee. I wonder if you wish to comment on any other players from your first two teams at the Division, '48-'49?


Metheny: One other boy at that time who was quite an athlete that later went on to the University of North Carolina is Bobby Williams, who is now baseball coach at Lake Taylor High School here in Norfolk. And he played two sports here just the same as Joe did; I consider him probably a sports analyst, he was so adept at records and memory. But there’s two fine athletes that have gone on and done well in the field of sports.

Sweeney: How would you contrast the players of 1948 to 1950 and those of today in attitudes, motivation, and how they must be handled by the coach?

Metheny: Well, back then there was more of a traditional type of person and they didn’t have as many —— oh, I’d hate to use the word "hang—ups" —— as our young athlete does today. Maybe it would be better if I said that they didn’t have as many diversions. And so they put all their time in their athletics and their school. Today the athlete, he’s got many more things he’d like to do. He wants to move around, and, as far as discipline, the kids haven’t changed. I imagine they were a little bit easier to discipline years ago —— my first teams —— but I find that the boy today, all he wants to know is where is he, where does he stand. And we don’t have any trouble in that manner, so there’s not a great deal of change in the disciplining of the athlete because they all have this desire to do well. So I just think they’re almost the same; there’s little difference.

Sweeney: How much recruiting did you do for the basketball and baseball teams in those early years? Most of the players seem to have been from the Norfolk area. Was there any scholarship aid in those junior college days?

Metheny: Well, all of our athletes did come from the Tidewater area and they were then, just like they are today, most of our athletes came here because of financial reasons. Some didn’t but most of them were. We had no scholarships. They played because they wanted to play. That is one difference from the old days to the present is today the good athletes, if you go to recruit them, you have to have some scholarship aid or you get outbid and so you, most of the time you’re not ending up with the blue chip athlete but you’re ending up next to him. You can have fine teams, but when you play these big teams who are able to recruit financially, then they have the better athlete and it’s difficult to win against them. We win one or two.


Sweeney: Down through the years did you find yourself in sympathy with President Lewis W. Webb’s philosophy concerning the place of intercollegiate athletics in higher education?

Metheny: Yes, Mr. Webb was a great supporter of any facet of the college at that time, and, as a matter of fact, he and his family never missed a contest, if it was possible. So he was very enthusiastic about our physical education and our athletic program. He backed us in every way, shape, or manner, and helped us when he could.

Sweeney: Was your relationship with Dr. Webb both personally and professionally harmonious?

Metheny: Just great. It couldn’t have been nicer. He was just a remarkable man, so great for our college, and he brought us along up until we got to university status, when he retired. And you never hear anything detrimental about Mr. Webb. He just worked hour on hour and he just did everything possible to make this college grow and be recognized. And I think that was his goal, and he achieved it.

Sweeney: You’ve already spoken about your managing the Newport News Dodgers in the Piedmont league in 1950, but I would like to ask you why you chose to remain at the Division, which had rather low salaries at that time, rather than pursue a career in professional baseball?

Metheny: Well, professional athletics is a very uncertain thing, and I do like to get into things that are more stable. And I felt that coming here to the college that I could do the same work and have a more stable situation, and also I’d be dealing with young people. And I’ve always wanted to deal with young people and develop them. In professional baseball you’re moving all over the country. I had a family, and I didn’t want to keep moving them, and so my wife was also a Norfolkian, and I wanted to just become established. And that’s the reason I left professional baseball.

Sweeney: Do you recall Billy Casey from Norfolk’s Holy Trinity High School, who starred for the 1950—51—52 teams?

Metheny: Very much so. Billy Casey was one of the finest basketball players that I had here, and he was one of the taller ones. He was about 6’2". Back in those days that was tall. But after he left here, he went on to the University of Virginia and became a co—captain at the University of Virginia, so he was a pretty good athlete.


Sweeney: Were you able to develop a close relationship with the high school coaches in the Tidewater area?

Metheny: Certainly, if we hadn’t been able to do this we wouldn’t have gotten a lot of our athletes to come to school here because we used to go to them and ask their suggestions, and they... (Tape is spliced here.)

Sweeney: In the early 1950’s, even though your basketball teams continued to lose to the junior varsity teams of major universities such as North Carolina State, did you feel your teams were gradually becoming more competitive, and what were your major disadvantages then?

Metheny: Well, all through my career I’ve always tried to move up in competition. And at the time we were playing these big junior varsity teams, that’s when North Carolina State and North Carolina were at their peak, back in that time under Everett Case. And so you don’t get better unless you play better competition. And I’m doing exactly the same thing through my middle years and now through these late years. I’ve done the same thing by moving up by schedule, and it cost us wins, yes, because they’re better than we are. But we’re getting to the point now that where we can compete. And so all through my career I felt that you had to take those steps or you wouldn’t get ahead. It’s a slow process and sometimes it’s a difficult process because sometimes the boys will get discouraged when they get beat, but later on in life, by playing this kind of competition, they found out that to be a competitor you have to be able to compete against the better ones, and if you’re going to be successful.

Sweeney: What degree of interest was there on the campus in the late 1940’s and early 50’s in the teams which you coached, and what interest was exhibited in the community?

Metheny: Well, we used to play before a packed house all the time. A packed house was 500 people back then, and that was in our old gym over at the old administration building, and then we got to move down to the city arena so that we could accommodate more people. And I guess the biggest crowd we had way back then was 1,000 people. And that was a good crowd back then. And so the interest that was exhibited by the community was great because we were the only college at the time. There wasn’t the junior college or there wasn’t a four—year college


like Virginia Wesleyan. There was Norfolk State, but back in those days we didn’t compete.

Sweeney: Did you have support from the students?

Metheny: Oh, the students were behind us a hundred percent. We also had a very enormous intramural program. And so the fraternities and sororities, which were the backbone of our intramural program, they also were the mainstay for spirit on the campus with our athletic teams. They were very much involved both on the intercollegiate level and on the intramural level. So the cohesiveness on our campus was just tremendous. It was just out of this world. Whether it was an intramural game or an intercollegiate game, we had a packed house all the time, so it was great. And the faculty —— they’d come and they’d cheer just like the students. They were always there, and if they could help us in any way they would. They’d let us know if a boy was slipping in his work and help us get him turned around and things of this type. It was just one big family back in those days. But remember, when I came here in 1948, there was between 200 and 250 students, and today there’s 11,000. So the school has really come along. When I came here, there was the old administration, the science building, the old academic building, and then we had army huts, barracks, for classrooms, and then we had two—story, wooden buildings for classrooms. And that was it. And I’ll tell you, if you want a good picture of this, over in Gray’s Pharmacy, right on the wall, is a picture of the stadium, and you can see the old barracks and the two wooden buildings that we used to use as classrooms. And that’s what the college was. Again, the college as well as the community, the university community, has come from something very small to something very big.

Sweeney: On April 2, 1953, the Norfolk Division’s Braves baseball team played a varsity major college team, Dartmouth College, for the first time. I was wondering how this came about and what you recall of the 7-3 victory by the Braves pitched by Jack Smart?

Metheny: Well, you know, this moving up in caliber of athletics, that’s part of my philosophy, and I knew the coach; he was a former professional, Tony Lupien. He was a graduate of the Harvard School of Business, but he lives up there at Hanover, Mass., so as a result he was coaching there. And they wanted to come South so he called me, and from that day on of 1953 we have played every year anywhere from 2 to 5 games with Dartmouth. They wonder how we got these large universities and colleges


to come here to play. They came here and they played for nothing. They got no room and board, no guarantee of anything. They just came here to play us, and they helped us along, and that’s one way that we have developed. And to this day Dartmouth never accepts a penny. So it’s unique in that sense. But Jack Smart, who pitched for me, was a big league prospect. But he had a very unusual physical makeup in his shoulder, and he’d pitch a game, and then he couldn’t pick up a ball for almost a week. He’d have to wait a week before he could pitch again. And we sent him to the orthopedic doctor, and he told him that he could repair it, fix it, but he wouldn’t promise him he’d ever throw another ball. And after the season he had the operation and never threw another ball. And he was a big league prospect, but he had this little situation in his shoulder where the tendon always slipped out of its little groove, and it made him very, very sore. But he was a big league prospect if it hadn’t been for that because he could throw hard.

Sweeney: I think you’ve already answered why the Division teams found it so difficult to beat the service teams. I was wondering what courses you were teaching at the Norfolk Division in the late ‘40’s and the early ‘50’s.

Metheny: Well, at that time all we had was the basic physical education activity courses. But I taught those. I also was director of intramurals, and I was coaching two sports, so I did have a full day. And as we went along in the ‘50’s, we then went to a four—year setup, and we started increasing our courses. I can’t remember the exact year, but we went into a physical education major. And from that point on it has developed to what we have today. And Mr. Chandler, who was our athletic director and head of the department at that time; we hired Miss Pittman who took over the heading of the girls’ department. We added Lou Plummer, and the four of us handled the whole program for years, and the next person they added was a wrestling coach, which was Pete Robinson.

Sweeney: How did you further your own education on the graduate level in the early 1950’s?

Metheny: Well, after I had stopped playing professional baseball and decided that I wanted to stay in the field of education, I went back to William and Mary and got my master’s degree there in ‘52, I believe it was. And so, since then, I haven’t furthered my education as far as a doctorate.


Sweeney: I’d like to go back to the 1952—53 and ‘53—54 basketball teams and bring up three names, and see what your recollections are about Harry Knickerbocker, Ralph Halsted, and John Casey.

Metheny: Well, Harry Knickerbocker was one of our most prolific scorers that we’ve had here at the university; by the way, he will be shown in this fall’s record brochure. And Ralph Halsted played center for us; he was 6’ 1" and he was one of the finest rebounders we've ever had, a very good ball handler. And John Casey was a left—handed forward and another one of our fine scorers. Now we, all along in my career of coaching basketball here at the Division and at the university, never had a high scoring center. We’ve had good rebounders, good ball handlers, but we’ve always had good shooters outside. And that was the real advantage that we had. The boys worked on it; they weren’t tall; they were very, very good defensively. They were very proud of their defense. And with their shooting ability, that’s what made up for our lack of shooting in the center of our team.

Sweeney: By the early 1950’s or by about 1953—54, were you able to get three years of eligibility for your players?

Metheny: We were not able to get three years of eligibility until we began going into the four—year setup. At the time when we went from the junior college to the four—year setup, they allowed us to play for three years, and then the following year after that we were allowed to play four years. And so it was a progressive thing. The history of our whole program...(Tape ends) . . .1 started freshman teams in basketball and baseball so that, when we hired a new coach, all the boys on the squad would be able to go to tournaments if we were fortunate enough to get in the tournament. And it worked out that way. And so what trouble we had with it paid us dividends in the long run.

Sweeney: Did you choose to remain at the Norfolk Division in the hopes that the school would become a four-year institution, which would enable you to upgrade your program?

Metheny: Yes, this is true. When Mr. Chandler was director of athletics, I asked him if it would be all right if I tried to move ahead with my program in basketball and baseball. And he said, "Yes, go right ahead, as long as we could stay within what budget we had." And so I started scheduling teams like from up North, in


addition to Dartmouth, I had Brown, I had Providence, I had Colgate, I had Rochester, Ithaca, those schools would come south and they’d play us. Now they played us under the same rules, the same basis that Dartmouth did. We built this up with no cost to us. So again I was looking ahead to when we would have an opportunity to play the kind of athletics that the students wanted. Baseball was really the first thing that was done on a higher level, and the students liked that, and that’s really where the germ was planted for us to move on up to where we are today.

Sweeney: How did you compensate for the chronic lack of height for your Norfolk Division teams in basketball during most of your early years here?

Metheny: Well, like I’ve mentioned before, we did it by defense and having some good outside shooters. That’s exactly how we did it, and we worked at it and worked at it, and this is what we had to do because we didn’t have it. Now we were a running team when we could. When we didn’t, then we resorted to a set pattern. And then we worked on defense.

Sweeney: In 1955 the Norfolk Division basketball squad played the Hampden Sydney College varsity, a veteran member of the mythical Virginia Little Seven. Did you desire at this time that the Norfolk Division become a member of the Little Seven or of the official Mason—Dixon Conference?

Metheny: Yes; now, this Little Seven or Little Eight is a mythical thing. And it was conceived by a sports writer on the Richmond News Leader, I believe it was. I don’t know whether it was the Dispatch or not. But, anyway, it was a Richmond writer, and they had the Big Five and the Little Eight. And so that’s how we got in it when we started moving up and playing the four—year schedule against these state teams. Yes, we had aspirations of getting into the Mason—Dixon Conference eventually because, see, this was in our minds of growth.

Sweeney: Well, I think you’ve already answered the question about moving up. Did your team’s performance in the surprisingly close loss to the Hampden Sydney varsity —— 75 to 72 —— in January of 1955 mark a significant turning point in the development of your program?


Metheny: Yes, it was showing us that with our local talent that we were able to compete on an equal basis with the more established teams. And as we went along we upgraded our academics. Each year we got more difficult. And then the schools that we were playing would play us because they were not reluctant to play because —— or thinking that, well, our academics wasn’t as good as theirs. And that always came up. But we proved that our academics was on a high caliber, and then they started playing us. They knew that we didn’t have any recruiting money. They knew that ours was just pure amateurism, so again this was a big basis for us to move up. And we tried to do everything as near possible to the same conditions that the other teams that we played participated in. By doing this and showing good faith and by being able to compete, as we said, against Hampden Sydney that first year or so, this gave us the little impetus that we wanted to move on.

Sweeney: When did your title change to athletic director at the Division, and what new duties did you assume?

Metheny: Well, when Mr. Chandler became 65, he gave up his head duties of chairman of the physical education department and athletic director, and that’s when I took over, and that was 1963. And then we moved on into more of the intricacies of the four—year setup, and beefed up our schedules even more. We joined as an associate member of the NCAA. We had aspirations of getting in the Mason-Dixon. We went to their Conference meeting, and they told us to wait two years and in the meantime become a member of the NCAA and meet all of their requirements because they were in an NCAA Conference. And we did this. And then we became a full member of the NCAA, and then after that, after two years, they accepted us into the Mason-Dixon.

Sweeney: Did you also coach the Norfolk Division’s women’s basketball team?

Metheny: I didn’t coach the Norfolk Division William and Mary girls’ basketball team, but I had these same girls on an AAU team, and they were fine athletes. And we went on to national play at St. Joseph, Missouri, represented as the Snow White team. Now that’s when you could play outside the school as well as for the school. Now girls’ teams were not governed by this rule as the boys were. The boys could play for the school team but they couldn’t play outside. The girls could. So the girls


became very good. In their AAU play they won 125 and lost 3. In national play they won 5 and lost 3. And these same girls were playing for the college. So we had a fine team.

Sweeney: Do you recall any of the individuals, for example, Donna Doyle, Betty Smith, or Nancy Clendenon from that Snow White team?

Metheny: Yes, and we always talk about the student athletes and we’re always looking for intelligent athletes. Well, Donna Doyle was not only a great athlete, she was a great student. She is now at the present time head of all testing for the city of Norfolk. Shemade the championship round the first year in the state golf tournament. She was an All—State softball player, she was an All—State basketball player. And Betty Smith has been very successful also. She’s the personal secretary of Frank Batten, who owns the Virginian-Pilot. And Nancy Clendenon, another intelligent girl, she’s head of the laboratory for a hospital in Cleveland. And one other is Jean Holloman, who has finished her master’s here, and she’s now assistant head of the lab at the Norfolk Public Health building. So these were not only good athletes but they were intelligent people.

Sweeney: Did you find it easier to upgrade your baseball schedule than your basketball schedule? I notice you played six varsity teams in baseball in 1955.

Metheny: Yes, it was easier to update the baseball because we could get these teams coming South. And they wanted to play. Whereas in basketball we had to play the teams that were located in the state or right outside the state, and they already had established schedules. It’s very difficult to break in schedules once they get established. And so it was easier to schedule baseball than it was basketball.

Sweeney: In early 1955 the applications of the Norfolk Division and Shepherd College for admission to the Mason—Dixon Conference were rejected. You mentioned that they wanted the school to become an associate member of the NCAA before they applied for membership in the Conference, but the newspaper reported that the Norfolk Division was rejected on the grounds that the 15— member Conference was unwieldy. I wondered if they thought that the Norfolk Division was still too much of a junior college to be applying for membership in a senior Conference?


Metheny: Well, as I said before, we went before them, and they told us what we had to do, and that’s the only reason we got rejected. Now Shepherd College, they weren’t playing a big enough schedule; they weren’t playing enough teams to qualify because they were in another conference. So that’s the reason they got rejected at first —— some mighty big schools besides. So I don’t think that had anything to do with it.

Sweeney: I read of a 13-7 baseball victory over the William and Mary varsity in the 1955 season. The Braves rallied for 11 runs in the last two innings to win. This seemed to turn the team around, as they had lost five of their first six games, and they then went on to score 69 runs in four games. You characterized this team ‘as your greatest team in your seven years at the Division ‘despite woeful early season fielding lapses which resulted in 11 errors in one game and 10 in another. I was wondering if you could elaborate on your description of this 1955 baseball team whose fortunes changed so abruptly?

Metheny: Well, again, as I mentioned before, we were coming along gradually. And we were beginning to grow up, and so, just at that time, we began to get some pretty good pitching, which is the basis of it. And we had some pitching such as Dwight Ludwig and Photios Anthony, and so those two were carrying us. We had some pretty good other ball players, too, a boy by the name of Jim Cappaletti and Tony Anthony, Photy’s brother. And we had another fine pitcher in Buddy Holland. So we were beginning to get some depth. And it was just a matter of time before they matured, and this was what was beginning to happen.

Sweeney: You also remember a catcher by the name of Joe Cox and a first baseman by the name of Leo Fitchett from that team?

Metheny: Joe is one of the finest catchers we’ve ever had here, and he is now in administration down at the Virginia Beach high schools. He moved up after he was coaching. Now Leo Fitchett was a fine hitter, a first baseman, and he played here for two years and then he went on to another school to pursue another career. But, again, these were pretty good athletes.

Sweeney: You’ve already described what Virginia’s mythical Little Eight conference was, and apparently it was created by a sports writer, so, when the Norfolk Division was admitted to it, was it admitted by the sports writer?


Metheny: Yes, this is true. I had spoken to them about what’s the chance of us being included in the weekly rankings of the Little Eight, and they saw no reason why not because we were meeting all of the requirements of the other schools, even though it was mythical. It was a public interest situation, and it brought the schools from all over the state together.

Sweeney: Would you say, then, that your basketball team was immediately competitive among these schools?

Metheny: No, it wasn’t immediately competitive, but, again, as we went along, we’d get a boy here and there and finally we had a club that could compete on a fairly equal basis.

Sweeney: In February of 1956 Lloyd Grimstead of the Ledger—Dispatch wrote that some basketball scholarships should be offered now that the Norfolk Division was involved in this Little Eight. I was wondering how you felt about this question of basketball scholarships, and where President Webb stood on it, and when, finally, were the first scholarships offered?

Metheny: Well, let me say this. If I had my way about it, there wouldn’t be any scholarships in any sports. I would like to have a boy come to school because he wanted to come to school at a certain place, and this would make a much nicer situation, much better atmosphere. We did not have the money for scholarships. Mr. Webb was not against scholarships, but we didn’t have them to offer, so what could we do about it? And as a result we eventually had to go to scholarships. And when the first one was offered, it was like state tuition, books, something like that. And way back then it only cost around $300, you know, to go to school. But we have to use scholarships now, and we are at low ebb. We know that our basketball team has scholarships, but we as a coaching staff voted this because this is our only monetary way of getting ahead. And so we put all our eggs in one basket, and so basketball has 16 full scholarships and the other sports, they have about $1500 a year to work with. But this is changing, too. I will say, though, I wish we didn’t have to worry about scholarships at all and put everybody across the country on an equal basis.

Sweeney: This 1956 baseball team seemed quite competitive among the Little Eight schools; it was 5—5 in the Conference and 10—7 overall. I was wondering if you could comment on Buddy Holland, who was a hard-hitting pitcher who won five straight games for that 1956 team?


Metheny: Buddy was a tiny boy, but he was a fine competitor, and he had good pitches, good stuff on his pitches. And he was a pretty good hitter, too. Usually, you know, again, like high schools, your best athlete is your pitcher. Well, Buddy kind of came out of the same situation at Granby High School, and coming over here wasn’t much different. And, as a result, he did well in both avenues. And I can recall I almost made a mistake back then and Coach Chandler, we happened to be talking one day, and he said, "Is Buddy Holland eligible?" I said, "I don’t see why not, Scrap," I said, "he’s a senior this year." So we went to check it. And before we opened the season we found out that this was Buddy’s fifth year. And that saved us a lot of agony because, if we had done that, we would have gotten a lot of adverse criticism. But that’s the only time that we ever came close to breaking the rules. But it would have been an innocent one. So Buddy was a fine competitor, and he did a good job for us.

Sweeney: In January of 1957 a serious controversy arose over the Division’s refusal to allow Shepherd College of West Virginia to use two black players in its basketball game with the Division at Norfolk. Coach Jess Riggleman of Shepherd declared that, if he had had his black players, the game, which was won by the Division 78—70, would not "have been much of a contest." The newspapers saw the action by the Norfolk Division as arbitrary because the General Assembly resolution prohibiting integrated athletics in state public schools did not apply to colleges. Reference to college athletics was stricken from the resolution before it was adopted. Also one black had played the previous night against the Apprentice School at Newport News, and blacks had appeared on visiting basketball and football squads previously in Virginia. There are two questions about this incident. I wonder if you could supply your recollections about and your reaction to it, and did the incident cause a rupture in our athletic competition with Shepherd College?

Metheny: Back in those days being a state institution we did not have integrated schools. And Apprentice School is not a state institution. But this was blown up by a mistaken thing that was said by the newspapers and by television.


And we had no qualms against playing against blacks except from the state government, nothing written, but implied that they would request that this didn’t happen. Now I was accused of stopping this, but I wasn’t the one that stopped this. And I went to the newspapers and the television, and they retracted and apologized to me for saying that I was responsible for this. We did defeat Shepherd that night, but that situation, we did play. The coach, he understood the situation. I went down before the team before the game and explained the situation to them, and they understood it. And then, as a matter of fact, at that time the Navy Y.M.C.A. would not accept blacks, and they had to go over to Hunton Branch to stay. That’s when the newspapers got the wrong word about it. And so that’s where all the controversy came from. No, this did not have anything to do with the severing of relationship with Shepherd College. It was just, we didn’t have the finances to go that far, and then we had swimming meets with them and they couldn’t get here because of being snowed in and things of this type, and we just mutually agreed that it was an impossible situation for us to play because of the travel and what—not. But that’s all.

Sweeney: In the late 1950’s did you find an upsurge of student interest and community support for your teams?

Metheny: Certainly, and this is because of the success we were beginning to have in track and in swimming and in basketball and in baseball. And they wanted a higher caliber —- they wanted to move up. And they were the, really, the ones that were pushing for it. They wanted football, but I did some research of which I still have the letters from all the universities, the actual cost of football at these places. And I went all the way from top to bottom. For instance, that year, Notre Dame spent one and three quarter million dollars just for football. And the Southern Conference was paying a quarter of a million dollars, the Atlantic Coast Conference was paying a half a million dollars for football per year, just for the upkeep of it. And then we went to the smaller schools like the Mason-Dixon or the small independents, and their programs were anywhere from 75 to 100 thousand dollars a year for maintenance. We could not afford this, and so as a result we do not have football. Now we had football here many years ago, and it was done away with in 1942 because they were in debt. And I think that that was 10 thousand dollars —— a lot of money back then. And so


the state, and William and Mary and that, wrote it off the books and that was the end of football. In the years since then we’ve tried, the students have wanted football, but it isn’t financially feasible for us. So this is the reason we went towards basketball and towards the big time.

Sweeney: In the 1950’s you were serving as a part—time scout for the New York Yankees. I wonder how long you continued in this capacity and if you discovered any players who developed into major league performers?

Metheny: Well, at one time this was permissible, and then the NCAA said that a person in college athletics could not be associated with a professional club; therefore, I had to give it up. No, I was only what you call a bird dog. I’d pass the word along and I’d send in reports on the better athletes that I’d see or we would compete against. And that was the extent of my scouting.

Sweeney: Do you believe that the 1956—57 basketball team which won 11 and lost 10 and split 10 games in the Little Eight was your best until that time?

Metheny: The 1956—57 year was the beginning of us having better athletes, and included in that was Leo Anthony and Holt Butt, Dick White, and Kirkie Harrison. Kirkie is coach of Lake Taylor, Leo is coach of Princess Anne, and so we began to get a little more height. And so we were moving up in the caliber athletes we got. And we had the beginning of more scoring than we had before. So as a result it was one of those times when we were beginning to put more things together.

Sweeney: The 1957 baseball team won 6 out of 10 in the Little Eight. I was wondering if you felt that you had reached a truly competitive level for that Conference by ‘57?

Metheny: Let me say this about Little Eight, again, that it was only a mythical conference, and these teams we were playing were Mason—Dixon teams, and we were building up to getting in the conference and everything, and so as a result that was what we were after. But, anyway, we were becoming more competitive as we went along, and we were playing more of the type of teams that we should be playing. We had done away with all of the service teams, all of the freshman, all of the junior college teams, and we were now on a four—year basis.


Sweeney: Do you believe that the local press gave adequate coverage to your teams in both sports?

Metheny: The press has always been good to us here. At times we thought, well, we should have more, but, you know, when you didn’t have a sports information director at that time, and there was so much going on, and a lot of people used to say, "Well, this is the only college that is competing, that they ought to be able to send somebody out." But they were running a business, and they used to send one for the bigger games and give us pretty good coverage. But as a whole they’ve been good to us all the time.

Sweeney: Were you involved in the formulation of the four—year degree program in physical education?

Metheny: Yes, and this four—year program was formulated by Mr. Chandler and Miss Pittman and Lou Plummer and myself. We did most of the work on the program, and we wanted to get this program for the college at the time, and we were accepted the very first time that we handed our synopsis of our program in. So we did a lot of work on it for this to happen, to be accepted the first time.

Sweeney: Could you tell me how you became involved in driver’s education?

Metheny: Well, many years ago in 1948, when I first came here, the Tidewater Automobile Association was sponsoring driver education, and they wanted to get it into the university. Well, they brought the father of driver education down here, Dr. Amos E. Neihard from Penn State. And from that day on in 1948 Dr. Neihard has helped us or has taught a course here at least one time every year. And we now have developed this up to having two or three workshops plus an advanced course that is taught by Dr. Neihard every year

Sweeney: There are several questions listed here about Leo Anthony, and you can just respond to them. My basic question is about Leo Anthony’s contribution to the basketball team over his four years at the college.

Metheny: Well, Leo was our most prolific scorer. He is in our record books in many places. He was also a very unselfish player in


that, although he was our leading scorer, he also was our leading man in assists. He was the type boy that was always in the right place at the right time. His power cannot be exaggerated. He was just one of our great athletes, and he’ll be hard to beat. He scored 60 points in one game, and he had a four—year average of 26.5. In his senior year he had an average of 31 point something, and so he was consistent. But I can’t say enough about him. He also was our shortstop; he was a fine shortstop. And he with Kirkie Harrison, they hold our record for making double plays. I think Leo, if he could have hit with any degree of success, that he could have been in the big leagues. He was this kind of athlete, a very competitive athlete.

Sweeney: Was he a good defensive basketball player as well as offensive?

Metheny: Yes, he was. He worked on this, and I said before that our teams were very proud of their defense. And so he was included in that. He worked hard at it.

Sweeney: Was he the key to your rebuilding the team in 1958?

Metheny: Oh, yes, any time you have a player of this caliber you have to build around them. But he made things go. He was so good at it that he just made things go. Well, he was, to think about dedication, Leo the four years that he was at the college here, he took dancing from Arthur Murray Studio all four years. And he was a beautiful dancer, but this gave him the poise on the floor and deception. It really made him great.

Sweeney: I was wondering, he didn’t go on to play any professional basketball —— do you know anything about that?

Metheny: No, Leo didn’t attempt to play professional basketball because back in those days it wasn’t developed as much as it is now, and the smaller athletes just didn’t get in it. And that was the only reason why.

Sweeney: How did the Norfolk Sports Club scholarship come to be established?

Metheny: Well, the Norfolk Sports Club, as it says, is interested in college and high school athletics. And they decided that they


should do something about aid. Well, at one time they had these scholarships; they had four scholarships, and these athletes could go to any school of their liking. And then, finally, being as they were a local sports club, they had the scholarships pointed for our institution. And they’ve developed even more so since then. And quite a few of their scholarship winners come here in all sports.

Sweeney: The 1958 baseball team was led by left—handed pitcher Willis Bell and catcher Joe Cox, and they opened the season with seven consecutive victories and went on to win the mythical Little Eight baseball championship. I was wondering if you could provide me with any of your recollections of that team since it was the college’s first championship team in the mythical Conference and also if you could assess Willis Bell’s ability as a pitcher?

Metheny: Well, Willis was a fine college athlete. And this, again, the growing up, beginning to become more competitive, enabled us to win. Now since then Willis went on to coaching at Cradock High, and he has passed by that and is now in administration over there in Chesapeake. And Willis, he was a little boy. He didn’t play professionally at all. He only weighed about 145 pounds, but he was a fine competitor.

Sweeney: Was there any connection between the Suffolk Kiwanis Club’s sponsorship of a basketball game on January 3, 1959, between Norfolk College of William and Mary and Atlantic Christian College and the later development —— many years later —— of the Kiwanis Old Dominion Classic?

Metheny: No, there wasn’t any connection there. We did this just for charity, and we thought that it would give us some exposure also outside of the Tidewater. And I imagine that this was brought up in later years, but it really had no connection with our present Christmas Classic.

Sweeney: During the fall of ‘58 students at the college set up some committees to poll the faculty and the student body on the question of setting up an intercollegiate football program. I imagine that this is the time that you began to investigate this. You’ve already expressed your feelings on the question of a football team at the college. I wonder what would have been the effect if the football team had come on the other sports, especially basketball and baseball?


Metheny: Well, financially I imagine it would have had quite an effect on our program. As far as publicity or recognition across the country, it would have helped us; it would have increased it. Just like our sports are today, our basketball team and our baseball team now is going to be on television across the nation. We’ve had All Americans in basketball and wrestling and in baseball. And so football would have enhanced this recognition.

Sweeney: How large an intramural program did the college have in the late ‘50’s and early ‘60’s?

Metheny: Our intramural program has always been tremendous. It has been participated in and supported by everyone, from the administration on down. But, as I said, the sororities and the fraternities are the backbone of our program, and they make it go. We do have our independents, too. But it is the largest athletic program we have in this institution.

Sweeney: Was the small gymnasium in the administration building already inadequate to the school’s needs by 1959. When did you begin switching games to the Norfolk Arena?

Metheny: Yes, it was always inadequate. We even put bleachers down on the floor and made it more impossible to play. And we had as many as 1,000 in that gym. And that was standing and on the stage and everything. But it was around that time, around 1959, that we began to think about going down to the Arena and play, so we’d have more room. It just made a better situation for our spectators and everything. But we still have this philosophy as we had then. We dislike taking our contests off the campus because I myself feel that our athletic program is for our student body, our university community, and it can be observed more while being held on the campus than it can be off campus. I know this cannot be a hundred percent, but if it could be, it’d be great.

Sweeney: This 1958—59 basketball team is probably a good example of how a team compensated for a lack of height. The team was highlighted by Leo Anthony, Bobby Hoffman, Horace Williams and Holt Butt, and I wonder if you could bring back some memories of the ‘58—’59 team?

Metheny: Being a team that never was blessed with height, these boys are the type that made it go. For instance, Horace Williams


was a fine rebounder and very good on defense and a ball handler that was way above the average. He was very good at sleight of hand tricks. And Holt Butt was a fine outside shooter, fine. And to show you the comparison with Anthony and Hoffman, we were at Randolph Macon one night and they decided to double team Leo to try to keep him from scoring. Well, before you could notice it, Bobby Hoffman had 18 points. So they decided they’d have to loosen up and take care of both of them, and they both ended up with 32 in the game. So this was the kind of shooting we had, and this is the kind of play we had. Leo was our leading scorer, but when it came time the scores used to level off among the whole team, and with this type of play, that took care of our lack of height.

Sweeney: Could you comment on the team spirit of that 1958 squad and how the team prayed together before the game and between the halves?

Metheny: Yes, we’ve always had a closeness of the team and we never have left the Lord out of our program. And our boys always have wanted to get together before the game and have something to say about it and ask the Lord’s help, for His protection, and for them to get something out of this game that would be recognized and be something that would be of credit to Him. And this is the way I try to do with all my teams. I don’t feel that you can have a team with any morale if the Lord is not included in it. This is just my feeling; it always has been.

Sweeney: We can combine the next two questions. They’re about the ‘58—’59 basketball team which compiled a creditable 15—8 record but seemed to slump badly after the middle of the season. This was in contrast to most of your teams which did better after the season got going. So I was wondering how that occurred.

Metheny: Well, all I can say is that this is probably something unique in that most of my teams over all the years from the middle of the year on got so much better. They were latecomers, but this team just happened to not be that way for some reason. We had injuries to one of our big boys, Don Ellis, and he couldn’t play, and that hurt us tremendously because he was a fine scorer. And it took what little height we had out of us.


He was 6’ 4". And so we just happened to hit a slump, and it was one of those things; we didn’t come out and the other teams outplayed us and we got beat towards the end. But that happened to us, and it hasn’t happened but once or twice.

Sweeney: What was the significance, then, of the college’s being accepted as an associate member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 1959?

Metheny: Well, they’ll accept you as an associate and come to investigate you. And then,if you meet all of their requirements, then you become a fully bona fide member. But you have to be in a probation status first.

Sweeney: The baseball team of 1959 is the one which first establishes a truly outstanding record of 17 win’s and 5 losses. I was wondering if you could comment on that team’s success?

Metheny: Yes, that was the year that we set the record in double plays between Anthony and Harrison. And we had a very solid team at that time. We had good hitting, we had good pitching, and we had good defense. And they often say that if you’re strong through the middle —— catcher, pitcher, second and short and center field -— that you’ll have a good year. And this is what were. We were strong that way. And so this was one of our better teams up to that time.

Sweeney: Did attendance at the Norfolk Arena build up steadily at your basketball games in the early 1960’s?

Metheny: The basketball attendance did build up when we went to the Arena because it was much more conducive to the spectator. They had a little more elbow room, and they had parking space, and things of this type which we’ve always had trouble with here. So those things, that made the difference.

Sweeney: During the 1950’s, I wondered if you had serious problems with student athletes losing their eligibility due to academic failure and if you discussed with Mr. Webb any ideas, for example, tutors, which might have alleviated the situation?

Metheny: We’ve always lost some athletes because of academics, but we have never tutored. We felt that we couldn’t afford to pay for tutors or anything of this type; we didn’t have the money


to do that; therefore, they had to make it the best way they could. But we have done, over the years, we’ve always asked the faculty to help us, to keep us aware of when a boy is beginning to slip or anything of this type. I’ve had some of my better athletes, I mean student athletes, to tutor. When we’d go on the road we’d study together and things of this type. We have done this. But as a strict tutor, no, we’ve never done this.

Sweeney: The 1959—1960 basketball team was 7 wins, 6 defeats at mid—year break but ended the season with 12 and 6 record with 7 consecutive victories. But the Virginian—Pilot reported that the team had a "so what — don’t care" attitude. I wondered if you thought this was a fair commentary on that 1959-60 basketball team?

Metheny: I don’t ever recall that, but our 1959—60 team had 12 wins and 6 losses. And it was at that time that Ray Dougan came to us, and he was the center, could handle the ball and do fine rebounding. And he made us a better team. And also I had boys like Anthony, Hoffman, Marion Carroll, Kirkie Harrison, Don Ellis, and Dougan. And they did a good job. I don’t know where the paper got the idea that it was "so what" because there aren’t that type people there or they wouldn’t have been successful like they were before or they wouldn’t have been as successful as they are right now out in the world.

Sweeney: Why were baseball games with Ithaca and Providence College canceled from the 1960 baseball schedule before the season began?

Metheny: These things happen. We schedule them, and then they find out they can’t come south or something of this type, financial reasons, or their academic calendars don’t correspond, like with their vacations and things, which they try to do. And so there’s many little reasons why they didn’t because Ithaca came back and played us after that. I don’t believe we ever played Providence after that; it’s just one of those things. And now Ithaca doesn’t come south any more. They play a lot of fall baseball, so they don’t come south in the spring. So there’s no definite reason why.


Sweeney: What was the curfew that stopped some baseball games in 1960 at 5:00 or 5:30

Metheny: This is difficult for me to recall, this situation, but it was more than likely that they had to get away to get to the next place. Like Northern teams, they have to get a certain amount of time to get up North to play the next day and things like that. Outside of that I can’t recall of anything why we did that, or we just set it ahead of time that, when we’d come up to this time, we’d have to stop. And that has only happened once or twice in my 27 years. But the exact reason for that I can’t recall.

Sweeney: The 1960 baseball team really had a fairly bad year. They won only 4 and lost 7 among the Little Eight opponents. I was wondering why they suffered a poor season and what happened to Willis Bell, who seemed to just fade out as a pitcher?

Metheny: Willis came up with a sore arm, and that was the only reason he faded out. Now on these records and that, if you will notice when you went back through it, our records are only made up on the basis of four—year institutions. We don’t include the service teams or the freshmen or juniors either, so our records over the years, although we have many, many more wins than show, we only count those that are with four— year institutions. And so at this time in the Little Eight that year, but overall in 1959 we had 17 wins and 5 losses in baseball. But you see, with the four—year institutions it changes with the additions of this. So there’s really no reason why.

Sweeney: Getting back to a basketball game on December 12, 1960, against Bridgewater College, you benched Leo Anthony after Bridgewater took a 52—50 lead. This seemed to indicate a lack of confidence in Anthony. I was wondering if you felt that he didn’t perform well under pressure and why you later stated it as "keeping Anthony under Wraps"?

Metheny: Leo was always a good pressure player. And he was probably at that time having a bad stretch in there, wasn’t hitting. Take him out and give him a rest. I remember one time at Hampden—Sydney when Leo wasn’t hitting at all and I put in Billy Phelps, and Billy made eight straight baskets, then I put Leo back in with him, and we went right on. So, see, it’s


just a matter of trying to get a player turned a round or change a different aspect of the game.

Sweeney: In 1960—61 the basketball team was very successful, winning 16 and losing only 4. I was wondering how you would rate this team among those that you coached at the college and whether it stimulated the kind of fan support that you desired?

Metheny: This is one of the better teams that I had. And all of these boys that we’ve been talking about were included in ‘it. But we also had a new player by the name of Wayne Parks, and he today holds our field goal percentage for one game of 55% -— for the season, rather. And on that team we’re all these scorers, too; there was Leo and Phelps and Carroll and Hoffman and Dougan. That was a fine team. The kids could play. So this is one of our better ones.

Sweeney: I’d like you to recall that incredible final game that Leo Anthony played against Lynchburg College in which he scored 60 points and the Braves team as a whole scored 81 points in the second half en route to a 128-61 victory.

Metheny: Well, this was Leo’s highest scoring spree, and I’ve kicked myself many times since that game because I didn’t know what the state record was. It was 66 points at the time, held by a boy from Washington and Lee who played way back in the ‘30’s. And I took Leo out with three minutes to go. If I had known the record, Leo would hold a record today, because Pritchett at our school broke it with 67, and then a boy from Lynchburg broke his record. But Leo, if I had left him in, I think would hold a record today. But it was just one of those nights when everything he threw up went in.

Sweeney: We’ve already asked about Leo Anthony and professional basketball, so we can go on to the 1961 baseball team which was outstanding and won 9 and lost none among the Little Eight schools and finished with 18 and 6. And so the first question on that, what were the keys to the team’s outstanding defense with only 34 errors for the season and 27 double plays?

Metheny: Well, when you have a team that is good defensively like this, one of the reasons that you win is that you don’t give away runs. And any time that you make an opposing team earn what runs that they get, you’re going to be successful. And this


team had All Americans on it. For instance we had Bobby Walton, who was an All American, Frank Zadell, who was second team All American, and we had a catcher by the name of Jim Harrison that did a fine job for us. Also we had our double play combination. This was the beginning of the regime when we were having some fine baseball teams.

Sweeney: Now on the hitting side of that team that had a .293 average and improved greatly over the previous season in hitting, how did you account for this?

Metheny: Well, dedication and pride. These boys felt like they had a good team and then they knew they had a good team, and we were in Mason-Dixon, they wanted to win, and as a result we had a goal. And I think a little bit later we’ll be talking about that Conference.

Sweeney: There were two excellent pitchers on this team, Frank DeMille, who compiled an 8 win and no loss record and a 2.32 earned run average and a freshman named Bob Mears, who won his last 5 games and compiled a stunning 1.22 ERA for the season. I wonder if you could comment on these two pitchers?

Metheny: Well, Frank DeMille was a right hander, and he never walked anybody, practically didn’t walk anybody. And he had good stuff, and he was a real competitor. Bobby Mears was a left hander, and he was the same caliber, a fine competitor. And I think this was one of the characteristics of this team. They were all dedicated competitors. They didn’t believe they could get beat. I remember one time at Washington and Lee, we were 6 runs down, and Bobby Walton came in off the field; he says, "Enjoy it, fellows," he says, "because now you’re going to get beat." And we beat them. So it was this kind of spirit that carried this team.

Sweeney: And lastly on that team, you declared in a newspaper interview the key to the team’s success was catcher Jim Harrison. Could you elaborate on that?

Metheny: Well, in the spring of the year I didn’t have a catcher. And so we were scouting around the campus. And this fellow, Jim Harrison, who was a good catcher, we talked him into coming out. If it hadn’t been for him, I don’t know what we would have done because we didn’t have a good catcher. As a matter of fact he was the only catcher we had. So Jim was the key. Without him we couldn’t have won.


Sweeney: Were there any other considerations which held up the Norfolk College of William and Mary’s admission to the Mason—Dixon Conference?

Metheny: No, only the probation area that they asked us to do these things. We went before them, and we had to become an NCAA member because the Conference was, and then they asked us to wait until they could investigate us. They sent an investigating team here, and they found out that everything they wanted we had abided by, and we had accomplished, and so as a result they let us join the Mason—Dixon Conference.

Sweeney: In 1961 how and why was the name of the school’s athletic teams changed from Braves to Monarchs? Why were the new school colors of blue and white selected?

Metheny: Well, you remember that we became so large that the state of Virginia separated us from William and Mary and they gave us the name of Old Dominion University. We then wanted to stay with the history of the institution of William and Mary, and so we came up with the name of Monarchs. Now I scouted all over the country, and there’s only one other college that I know of that has the nickname of Monarchs and that’s King’s College in Pennsylvania. Next, when it came to the colors, we were looking for some colors that were different from other schools. And at the time North Carolina University was the only one that had light blue and white or Columbia blue and white. And so this is the reason that we selected these colors. Now this was put before the student body, and the reasons why, and they agreed to it. This wasn’t just done on an arbitrary basis.

Sweeney: We can combine questions 82 and 84. The 1961—1962 basketball team, of course, did not have Leo Anthony on it... (Tape ends.) (Could you compare this team to the one the previous year, 16-4, on which Leo Anthony was the star? How would you describe the talents of center Ray Dougan? How did this new blend of seniors and freshmen straighten itself out so quickly as to) win 15 of its last 16 games, and who in the absence of Leo Anthony emerged as the team leader?

Metheny: Well, we only lost Leo and we had a nucleus there, and our CO—captains were Marion Carroll and Bobby Hoffman that year, and so they just stayed together. And we did have some


additions. We had a big boy out of the service that helped us for about half the year. And then we had our same prolific scorers. And that was Freddy Edmonds who came to school and Jerry Nichols. Later on Jerry Nichols finished his senior year for Coach Allen. So this was only with the loss of one team, and they were on the upsurge, and we were still, had a good solid ball club. So they kept right on winning.

Sweeney: The 1962 baseball team was remarkably successful with a 16 and 3 record. There were two freshman pitchers, Fred Edmonds and Don Bradshaw. I wondered about what contribution they made and who were the other keys to this outstanding record in ‘62?

Metheny: Well, as I said, this was the time we were beginning to move ahead. And we not only had these pitchers, but by then we were having the makings of our All Americans. In that time there was, we had the Zadell boys and Fred Kovner, and we had these pitchers, such as Mears and Bradshaw and Walton, and so this was the maturing of these athletes, and they were beginning to play that good baseball all the time, the lack of mistakes, and that’s how they did it, with pitching and fielding and hitting. We had all of it.

Sweeney: I was wondering if you recognized Fred Kovner’s talents when you first saw him as a freshman back in 1962?

Metheny: I certainly did. Fred could do it all. Later on he proved it by being signed by the Chicago White Sox for $24,000. And he also, to his day, he holds most of our intramural records. So he was a great athlete all around. He could do it all.

Sweeney: Did you have a harmonious relationship with the Faculty Athletic Committee in the 1950’s and 1960’s?

Metheny: Tremendous. They were always giving us the finest cooperation, and never had any qualms about it.

Sweeney: In 1962 the Membership Committee of the Mason—Dixon Conference came to visit the campus. I was wondering if they were enthusiastic about adding the Norfolk College and if you were pleased by the visit and what significance it had for the athletic program?


Metheny: Well, as I said, that they came here to investigate us and we met all the requirements and they were extremely pleased. I think that what it did for us was this, that now we are in a Conference, and in every sport we have an annual goal to shoot for, a Conference championship, which in baseball and wrestling we just, the six years we were in it, I think, wrestling won the championship four years, and baseball won the championship four years. I think it’s that way, or maybe wrestling won it five years and baseball won it four. And also it gave us the opportunity to get into the NCAA regionals and playoffs. So being in a Conference was a big asset to our program.

Sweeney: Could you tell me about the basketball clinic conducted by the University of Kentucky’s illustrious coach, Adolph Rupp, in which you enrolled in the summer of 1962?

Metheny: Well, I always went to all of these big clinics that I could get to because I was able to isolate the principal speaker at a lunch or have him at my home or something of this type, and I’d sit down for two or three hours and so—called "pick their brains" to help my program. And so by going to people that were very successful, I was able to formulate a system that paid us great dividends. And that’s the reason I did it.

Sweeney: Do you recall the 1962—1963 basketball team’s trip to the Quantico Invitational Tournament which resulted in Old Dominion College’s losing to Ohio Northern and Belmont Abbey?

Metheny: Yes, and it was at this time that it was shown to me that we had to upgrade our program to compete against the better teams across the country. And Ohio Northern had a great team; Belmont Abbey was just better than we were. They weren’t as good as Ohio Northern, because I think, if I recall, Ohio Northern went all the way to the finals that year. They didn’t win it but they went to it, so it was just a steppingstone for us to tell us what we had to do to reach a goal that we wanted to do.

Sweeney: I meant to ask question 83 and skipped over it. What did you hope the separation from the College of William and Mary, when Old Dominion College was created, would mean for the school’s athletic program?


Metheny: Well, I thought this was a great step for us because, under the conditions we were, we were a stepchild of William and Mary. And being on our own two feet, this gave us our own recognition and would enable us to move along. But, by being separated from William and Mary, it gave us more latitude, because we made our own decisions then. And they had a finger in the pie, so to speak, and they dictated to us, and our finances weren’t as plentiful with them doling them out to us as they were afterwards. So we could go to Mr. Webb and talk to him or the athletic council, and we could get more definite answers. And so it just helped us to be able to expand to where we could be recognized.

Sweeney: In 1962 also the Old Dominion basketball team went to a Naval Station Invitational basketball tournament here in Norfolk and placed second. I was wondering if you thought this was a major step up?

Metheny: Yes. Now, I do know this, though, that I believe that we at that time were defeated in the finals by Frederick College, I believe. I’m not positive offhand, now, about that, but I believe that’s true. And Frederick College had a fine team. We weren’t as good as they were. They had height and all the other requirements that you need, which we didn’t have. But it was just like the Quantico Invitational; it was telling us things that we had to do.

Sweeney: What did you find that you had to concentrate on in teaching the freshman basketball players? In other words, what part of their game was the weakest when they graduated from High School?

Metheny: I’ve always found out that the weakest point of a basketball player coming from high school is defense. And we worked on defense a great deal of time. So teaching them how to play defense was my biggest problem.

Sweeney: Could you give your estimate of Marion Carroll’s contribution to the basketball program at O.D.C.?

Metheny: Yes. Marion Carroll was a fine athlete, and he was the type athlete that held your team together. And when the time came where he was needed, that’s when he began to show.


He didn’t score a great deal, only when somebody else wasn’t doing a job; that’s when he’d step in and pick up the slack. He was a fine competitor. By the way, at his size, he was 6’ 1" high jumper. And so Marion was a good, stable athlete. Now Ray Dougan —- Ray was one of our finest center men we’ve had in that he was a fine ball handler, a fine rebounder. He knew how to perform what we call away from the ball, which is a difficult thing for athletes to learn to do is to be able to perform when they don’t have the ball. And Ray could do these things. He was a tremendous asset to us in the middle of the court.

Sweeney: Could you explain the Metheny Plan for coping with the problem of major league baseball teams raiding college campuses? And do you believe that the free agent draft has eliminated this problem?

Metheny: Well, I have no qualms with the major leagues raiding campuses providing that it’s legitimate. And let me explain what I mean by legitimate. It’s that if a boy can get enough of a bonus where he can make it profitable for him, then he should sign. Give you an example. If a boy signs for $25,000—$30,000, then he should sign because then he’ll have something left. But if it’s below that, by the time that the federal government, the state government, they get their share of it, and then you have to pay for your education, you don’t have anything left. So if you get a substantial amount of money, yes. Now, with the new rule that once a boy begins college he cannot be touched by the major leagues until he becomes 21 years of age, and that’s usually after his sophomore year. Well, we had one of our boys, Paul Mitchell. He played three years for us, and then he signed for $30,000. He gave up one year of his eligibility. Well, we could have used him one more year. But this was to his advantage. So I have no hard feelings that he signed or against the big leagues because he became 21 years of age. Now the free agent draft, it hasn’t helped or hindered us, I don’t think, not that much. I think I gave a plan some 8 or 9 years ago before the convention of the NCAA in reference to this, but they won’t allow it to happen because they say signing of a contract makes a fellow professional.

Sweeney: This Metheny Plan was your own experience?


Metheny: Well, no, it wasn’t my experience. I thought about this a long time, and this plan was to allow a boy to be signed as long as he doesn’t play professionally. And let him go to college if he wants,and each summer go out into the summer leagues sanctioned by the NCAA and let them play, probably under the supervision of a major league team, and then finish his education and then go play. I feel that, with this, the athlete has some security and he is benefited. The way it is now, the only person that can get hurt is the athlete himself. That’s the only one, nobody else. And so I just feel this is wrong, and that’s the reason I presented my plan. But that’s it in a gist, a little capsule, about the plan; it’s not the complete plan.

Sweeney: Well, you mentioned Paul Mitchell. I was wondering if you lost any substantial number of your baseball players or your important players to major league teams?

Metheny: Well, you lose all of your important ones, really, over the years. Right now, at the present time, I have one that’s in Montreal, John Montague. I have Paul Mitchell, who is at Rochester, ready to go to Baltimore about the middle of the year. I’ve had Dennis Riddleberger, who just retired from Cleveland. I had Fred Kovner, who’s with the White Sox, and he got hurt, and he’s right in town here. But, you see, they’re fine athletes, and for them to be able to do this, I think it’s great.

Sweeney: Why did you drop Robert Shibley, the team’s second highest scorer, from the basketball squad near the end of the 1963 season?

Metheny: That was a discipline problem. And I have a policy that it doesn’t matter whether you’re the star or the waterboy, if you don’t want to play for the best part of the team or the best aspects of the team, then you and we are going to part. And this is the way we operate. And so that’s what happened, and there was this problem, and we eliminated it, and the kids went on and won.

Sweeney: The 1963 basketball team compiled a mediocre 13-12 record for the season and was eliminated by Hampden—Sydney College in the first round of the Mason—Dixon Conference. I was wondering if the going to full membership in the Conference accounted for the team’s record slipping somewhat?


Metheny: Well, remember that I told you before that we went, back to where we didn’t play freshmen, so I hurt myself by taking some of my athletes away, not playing them, because they were freshmen. And so this is what was happening; we were lacking in enough boys to play well. So that was the only reason.

Sweeney: Why did rivalry, intercity rivalry perhaps, not develop between Old Dominion College and Frederick College when the latter was a private four—year institution?

Metheny: Well, we played them, and then after the game, their students lined up outside the arena, and they called all kinds of obscenities-— now they defeated us--at our faculty and our president. And it was terrible. And so that is the reason we never played Frederick.

Sweeney: Did your 1963 baseball team experience much tension as they extended a winning streak begun in 1962 to 24 games?

Metheny: Well, yes, a little bit, because I remember we went to Yankee Stadium to play in the NCAA regionals, I believe this was the following year. Before the game I never said a word to my boys, but they were so high that I think that if I had said anything to them at all that they would have blown a fuse. And all I said to them was "Go get ‘em." And we went off and won it. But the real fine competitors, you don’t have to say anything to them. They’re ready.

Sweeney: This 1963 team won 22 and lost 5 and won the Mason-Dixon Conference championship, the NCAA College Division Atlantic Coast Regional. The big stars seemed to be Jim and Frank Zadell, Fred Kovner, Fred Edmonds, and Bobby Walton. I wondered if you could evaluate their contributions and if you consider this to have been your best team?

Metheny: Oh, I think it was our best team because we had everything that we needed. We had pitching, we had defense, we had hitting. But I just think that this is a team that made themselves; they were dedicated. But also this was a team of all good students, and all of them stayed together for four years. And this is what has to happen. If you’re going to have good teams, you cannot have boys flunking out or a number of boys flunking out every year because then you


start at the beginning every year. You don’t progress. We also had on here these All Americans. We had Fred Kovner and Walton and then we had some second team All Americans, Zadell. So all of that I think, is the reason why this was a great team.

Sweeney: In 1963 you became the athletic director, which I’ve already asked about, but I wonder what this did to your work load and coaching responsibilities?

Metheny: Well, this increased them tremendously, and our staff was saying that they couldn’t get to me because I wasn’t available enough, so one year I didn’t coach baseball. And Jim Brady, who is over in our Econ. department, who had played professional ball, "I got ‘him’ to pick it up and take it for one year. But it wasn’t successful, so I took it back the next year. But it made my work load heavy.

Sweeney: In ‘63 when you became the athletic director, what were the strengths and the weaknesses of the ODC athletic program?

Metheny: Well, we were in a growing stage at that time, and, as to say weaknesses, well, I guess it was ‘finances. Today we can’t, except in basketball, we aren’t able to compete on an equal basis financially. But otherwise I think that we’re strong. We have good boys, we have dedicated athletes, the administration is with us —— and they’ve always been with us. So we’ve had some fine pluses and we’ve had very few minuses. This is a unique place in that you don’t have a great deal of pressure on you. That includes the athletes, too, not only your ‘coaching’ staff. And I think this is one of the strengths, where you can go through things in a relaxed manner.

Sweeney: It’s an interesting way the winning streak ended. Loyola College of Baltimore broke Old Dominion’s 24—game winning streak 8—7 ‘on April 19, 1963, and then ODC went to play Baltimore University in the same city and lost a doubleheader 5—4 and 6—5. They made 17 errors in three games was wondering why ‘this sudden collapse, especially in the defense, occurred?

Metheny: Well, you know, pressure does many different things to you. But if you’ll notice, all three of those games were one—run


games. And after you're under that pressure and you get beat the first one, well, that should be a relief. And so they wanted to bounce right back, and I had the feeling then that they were trying to get back on a winning road so hard that they just didn't do things right. And when it didn't go right, then things went all wrong. That's where all the errors came in.

Sweeney: In 1963 you accepted an invitation to the NCAA Atlantic Coast Regional College Division Tournament. Before this you had indicated that the invitation would be turned down because freshmen would be ineligible. I wonder why you changed your mind?

Metheny: The best I can recall on that is that we didn’t have too many freshmen, if any. I can’t recall any on there right now -- probably was one or two. So we accepted because we didn’t get hurt because of this. And that’s when we went on and won the whole thing.

Sweeney: At this NCAA Regional, which was the terminal event (there was no college divisional world series in those years), ODC defeated the Coast Guard Academy 5-3 and the University of Buffalo 9-0. I was wondering if the students in the school and the city of Norfolk supported the championship baseball team and if you really had expected this team to do so well?

Metheny: Well, I’ll tell you, this was our first NCAA Regional, and we were apprehensive about it. And we didn’t know how good we were. We thought we had a good team. And then when we beat a good Coast Guard Academy team in the first game, it gave us the momentum. And then a funny thing happened there against the University of Buffalo. Just before the game started, a coach made a comment that our team didn’t even look like ball players. And he said something to our pitcher, Bobby Walton, and he came over to me and he said, "Coach," he said, "what’s wrong with that coach?" And I said, "Well, don’t worry about it; just forget it." And Bobby said, "Well, we’re going to beat them but good." And Bobby went out, and he set a record at the time that has since been broken. He threw 72 pitches in a 9-inning game, and we beat them 9-0. And so that’s the kind of team


they were, real competitors. It kind of upset them a little bit —- the opponents —— they just got that much tougher. And, by the way, that pitching record has since been broken by Cy Brinkley, who was our captain this year, and he holds the record of number of pitches for one 9—inning game, which is 67. So Cy holds that one.

Sweeney: Did the school and the community support the team?

Metheny: Oh, they were out to greet us when we came back. By the way, the Naval Base down here, they called us up and volunteered their Greyhound bus to take us to the tournament. So the community was watching us, and they were behind us. They sent us all kinds of telegrams just like they did for our basketball team this year. It was a gala event, and naturally it was appreciated because it was the first time for us.

Sweeney: Not too many students went to the game, though, did they? They didn’t go up...

Metheny: No, this one was held at Hampden-Sydney, and it was after school was out. So the students had scattered. And it’s the first time it had been held in Virginia. It was up at Hampden-Sydney, which is a small school and away from the bigger cities, so the students weren’t there. There was a fair crowd, but not a great crowd.

Sweeney: I noticed in an article in one of the Norfolk papers that they said that your years as a player with the New York Yankees in establishing a winning tradition had an effect on your development as a baseball coach. I wondered if you’d comment on that?

Metheny: Well, yes, I think Ray White, my first manager, and Bill Myers, who had me in the minor leagues, and Joe McCarthy, who I played under in New York, they had a great deal to do with my coaching philosophy. And then all that I learned from the different athletes, I tried to pass on to our teams, so I think it had to have a great impact upon my coaching. And we try to do it as near professionally as we can here.


Sweeney: In 1963 you started a freshman basketball team, and I wonder why this was started and what effect it had on the ‘63—’64 varsity team?

Metheny: As I said earlier, we were building toward having a new coach and going into a higher classification of basketball, and we knew, if we left the Mason—Dixon Conference, that we wouldn’t be allowed to play freshmen. So this is when I began playing freshmen as a freshman team and not on the varsity, and so that weakened us. But the reason we did this is so that when we hired our new coach everybody would be eligible and would be able to do what his wishes would be.

Sweeney In 1963 you were named Coach of the Year for District III (that’s Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) by the American Association of College Baseball Coaches. I wondered what your reaction was to this award?

Metheny: Well, when your teams do well and you feel that everything went right and then you get recognition’ like this, I think it makes you feel good. But if it hadn’t been for your team, your players, the caliber of your players, it wouldn’t have happened. And so I think any time you get an award like this that it really is the result of what your athletes do. They make it possible.

Sweeney: The ODC basketball team in 1963-64 was only able to schedule 7 games at home all season. I wondered why this unusual occurrence happened?

Metheny: Well, any time you move up and you schedule new teams and teams that are a higher classification, you always have to go to them first. And that’s still true, like what we’re doing in baseball now. We’re going to the ACC teams first, the South Carolina and the Southeastern teams, Georgia— Georgia Tech. You have to go to them first, maybe for two or three years. And so that reduces your home schedule. But what’s helped us in baseball here is that the teams coming from the North play here and then we can go away and do the...but in basketball that isn’t true. And I think I commented about that before, that you have to go to the others first, before they’ll come to you.


Sweeney: Why did you announce your intention of resigning as basketball coach in the winter, of '63—'64 and then continue in this position for another season? I read in the paper that you tried to get Cliff Hagan of the St. Louis Hawks professional team as coach and then it fell through?

Metheny: Yes, you see, we’d been making these plans. And, when we tried to get Cliff, he was here, he looked the situation all over, and he was thinking about doing it, and then he got the opportunity to go back and play professional basketball. So it fell through. So I had to continue for one more year, but all the time we were looking for a coach. And then, between that and the next year several people tried to get the job, but then we picked Sonny Allen.

Second Interview May 29, 1975

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