Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame inducts four new members

Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame inducts four new members

The Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame Inducted four new members Sunday night at UNCW.

Quinton McCracken graduated from South Brunswick High School, and went on to play baseball and football at Duke University before a 12-year MLB career that included notable stints with the Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I remember playing there, back in the fields, you know, sandlot baseball with cousins and friends, with sticks and tennis balls," said McCracken, when talking about his early days with the sport in Southport. "Those humble beginnings - to have those pay off is truly a humbling experience for me."

Dave Allen was the architect of the UNCW swim and dive program, a team that dominated the CAA, and at one point won an astounding 13 consecutive conference championships. When Allen accepted the job in 1997 though he had smaller goals in mind.

"I can remember exactly what my mindset was," said Allen with a smile. "To be successful and don't get fired. That was pretty clearly what I was after. I wanted to make sure I was doing a job the university would be proud of. I wanted to do a job that the athletic department would be proud of."

In 1978, Allen and his wife started the Seahawk swim school, which continues to this day and has taught thousands of children through the decades how to swim, and launched many to college swimming careers.

Bruce Fleisher grew up and learned the game of golf in Wilmington, often playing with his brothers at Pine Valley Country Club. After moving to Miami as a teenager, Fleisher attended Miami-Dade College and played on the golf team there, going on to win the US Amateur in 1968.

The Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame further lists his later accolades.

Between 1991 and 1998, Bruce had 35 top-25 finishes, 14 top-10 finishes, and a win in 1991 at the New England Classic.

In 1999, he joined the Senior PGA Tour (now Champions Tour) and went on to win 18 tournaments, including the 2001 US Senior Open.  He was the first player ever to win back-to-back victories in his first two Champions Tour events and won the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards in 1999.

Fleisher took time Sunday to go back to Pine Valley – playing the course he did so many times as a child.

"The memories are so instilled and so deep," Fleisher said. "To go back…I played there today. I played nine holes. I remembered every hole, and every shot – every tree. It's so fresh in my mind, it's like I never left."

Dr. Hubert Eaton was inducted posthumously, represented by Lenny Simpson. In a time where segregation was rampant, and African-Americans playing tennis rare – Eaton broke barriers and set the stage for those who would come after him. In 1932 Eaton was the first African American to win the North Carolina Interscholastic Tennis Championship. Eaton earned his M.D. from the University of Michigan in 1942, and soon after was leading desegregation efforts in Wilmington, on and off the court.

Simpson, a local tennis icon himself, said accepting the honor for Eaton meant more than being inducted into the Hall of Fame himself.

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