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Interview with Chuck Carree, July 24, 2008 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Chuck Carree, July 24, 2008
July 24, 2008
Interview with Chuck Carree, sports writer for the Wilmington Star-News.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Carree, Chuck Interviewer: Jones, Carroll Date of Interview: 7/5/2008 Series: SENC Notables Length 60 minutes

Jones: I'm Carroll Jones with Chris Malpass for the Randall Library Oral-- Special Collections Oral History Program and we're in the Helen Hagan Room, Special Collections, and we're pleased to have as our guest this afternoon Chuck Carree. An institution due to his vast knowledge of prep sports in southeastern North Carolina, and I understand a particular love is baseball.

Carree: Yes, yes.

Jones: All right.

Carree: I love baseball.

Jones: I happen to know a few other people who do, too. He goes back to the truly glamour days of Michael Jordan in middle school or even earlier than that maybe?

Carree: Well, mainly high school. I don't remember him in middle school.

Jones: Well, you can talk about that in a minute, Trot Nixon from New Hanover High?

Carree: Yes.

Jones: And Alge Crumpler, who is still in the NFL isn't he?

Carree: Yes.

Jones: Yeah. Clyde Simmons, Roman Gabriel, Sonny Jurgensen, etc... etc... and we're going to hear all about these people. But first of all, I want to say welcome to you.

Carree: Well, thank you, Carroll. It's a pleasure being here.

Jones: Have you ever considered writing a book about these people and your part in history, as far as sports is concerned?

Carree: Yes, we've thought about it. In fact, I was approached by someone, Jack Friar about it and I'll-- it's something that hopefully in the near future I'll be able to do.

Jones: Well, good. Well, good, I hope you do. I know that a couple of people have mentioned over time that they hoped that you would. And Jack is a nice guy. He's got his own publishing house, as well.

Carree: He does. He's a wonderful man.

Jones: And what I'd like you to do now, just tell us a little bit about yourself, your early years, where you're from, maybe you had a mentor or how you got into sports. Just begin wherever you feel like it.

Carree: Okay, I grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina and I was born on February 17th, 1955, and I have the same birthday as Michael Jordan, and I can tell you a little story about Michael--

Jones: Now, when was that? What month?

Carree: It's February the 17th.

Jones: February 17th, okay.

Carree: Yes, and one year when Michael was in high school, I had a birthday party and some of the people that I invited were people that worked in the paper and they had younger siblings that played basketball at Laney. Well, Michael wanted to come to my party, but I wouldn't let Michael come because he was still in high school, you know.

Jones: And how old were you at that time? You were a young man?

Carree: I had just started. I was maybe 23, maybe.

Jones: You had just started with The Star News?

Carree: Star News, right.

Jones: That's amazing. And he was at Laney.

Carree: He was at Laney and he gave me a really hard time about that.

Jones: How did you get to know him if you had just started in The Star News?

Carree: Well, he played basketball and I covered Laney and so over the three years he was there I got to know him and everything. And he was real friendly, very outgoing and just an absolutely wonderful person and somebody who just had a passion for sports. And you knew that he was going to make it big in life and all and-- but the biggest thing was I knew he was a baseball player and I knew his love for baseball. We have a picture that I think the newspaper-- think it sells to wire services and organizations all over the world where Michael Jordan is in a baseball uniform. He has a bat in his hand.

Jones: I've seen that.

Carree: He has a cap on. He was 12 years old and he was, like, the Dixie Youth Player of the Year in the state. I think he was about 12, yes, around 12 years old. And on-- I know that he liked baseball at Laney and he had a really tough time his senior year there because he was such a great basketball player and they had something called a McDonald's All-American Game, and all.

Jones: Yeah, I remember that.

Carree: And back then if you played in an all-star game like that, you lost your high school eligibility. So, at spring he had to give up baseball and that was a very hard thing for him to do because he really loved baseball. And I'm sure that's why he decided to try baseball when he retired one of the-- I think it was the first time he retired from the NBA, I think he decided to go try basket-- I mean, baseball. And of course, it's a sport that's hard to play if you haven't played it a very long time or if you stop playing for any amount of time, it's hard to catch up.

Jones: I would think so. There have been some changes in their rules and such, too, haven't there?

Carree: Yes, now athletes are allowed to do that-- can play-- I mean, it's so some much specialization so you really don't see a guy that will go out and be a basketball player and then in the spring go out and play baseball or run track (inaudible).

Jones: How can you?

Carree: There's so much specialization now and they all play on AAU, or travel teams. That's one of the interesting things about Michael Jordan, he didn't play on any of those teams, and all, back then. And yet, he made himself into just such a fantastic player. He was fortunate--

Jones: All you have to do is say one word, Michael.

Carree: Yes, everyone knows who he is. It's amazing. He was world--

Jones: Do you hear from him often or do you see him when he comes or, not really?

Carree: No, no he-- I think he guards his privacy and there's certain people--

Jones: Well, we've all heard that.

Carree: Right, and all, because I know when the Bobcats are here, I am told he has a posse or bodyguards that really protect him so no one can get close to him, you know. But it's funny, I read something today online. It was a column that Rick Riley, who used to write for Sports Illustrated, he writes now for and ESPN the magazine. And he mentioned a comment John Elway made to him once about how he would just love to be able to just go out to the mall and be able to walk around and have no one bother him, and I'm sure Michael Jordan feels the same way, you know.

Jones: Probably most of those sports figures. Did you see Metal Lock Clement [ph?] when he was last here in Wilmington and I know that he is such a unique individual in a different way, going as such, but still, he says he does not have the freedom to do what he wants even now.

Carree: I know. It's an amazing-- he was so well-known all over the world with the Harlem Globetrotters. He went everywhere. He-- I don't remember the number of countries that he played in, but it's remarkable. I mean--

Jones: Well, they would play for the servicemen overseas, too.

Carree: Right, yes, yes, yes. And I remember on Saturdays that they would be on the Wide World of Sports. They'd have the Harlem Globetrotters on and it-- oh, you just couldn't-- I know, as a kid you couldn't wait for Saturdays to show up, you know.

Jones: Hear that music. Well, I watched him do a demonstration. This was an executive's club dinner and he had a couple of his people with him, but he was great on his feet, and, of course, he's probably done this a million times. But someone came out and threw him a basketball and he started in and I thought, "Oh, this is--," I mean, the place went wild. You know, he still hadn't lost it particularly. And he says, "I'm real rusty." I thought, "Oh, geez, that's great." But anyway, I wanted to ask you about some of the others like Trot Nixon, who is still going.

Carree: Yes, he's on the disabled list right now. He has a sports hernia operation, but I think he'll be back this year, and all. I think Trot wants to play a couple of more years in the major leagues and he's had a very nice career. Trot's a player that wherever Trot goes it seems like winning follows him. He had all those successful years with the Red Sox and his legacy will be that he was a part of that team in 2004 that helped Boston win the World Series. It had been 80 something years or probably even longer since they'd won. Right, right--

Jones: That's amazing. People turned out for all those games. They'd sit there and, you know, it's part of the culture, I guess. Have you been up there to Fenway?

Carree: No, I haven't had the honor to go up there. It's-- just from what I've watched on television, ballparks like Fenway Park, Wrigley Field.

Jones: Wrigley, another one. They come from work with their suits and ties. They're disrobing in the stands. Oh, that's wonderful.

Carree: And I mean, I've watched-- I watch baseball all the time. You know, I love to watch those-- when there's a game on from Wrigley Field or Fenway Park, I mean, even Yankee Stadium.

Jones: What do you think about that?

Carree: I'm a little sad that Yankee Stadium is gone.

Jones: There'll never be another one.

Carree: No, no, no, no, it's not. It's funny but being out in southern California, the Dodgers moved there in the late 1950s and it's hard to believe Dodger Stadium is one of the oldest ballparks, now.

Jones: You know, they used to joke about you needed oxygen to go to the top of Dodger Stadium. And I had two aunties who never married, they lived together. And these old ladies would go out to Dodger, one of them would say, "The bums are coming, the bums are--." Now, these are very elegant, well-reared, young ladies, all right. But they had close friends who used to sponsor (inaudible). It was Farmer John's Meat Packing Company. And so they'd sit in box seats. In fact, they'd have a card and I'd have to park. And I've never seen anything like it. They were just as bad and wild as anybody else. When the Dodgers went out there, their culture came with them, or what people perceived to be, you know. And it was good for L.A. and it was good for the people.

Carree: Right, it's funny you mentioned Farmer John, Ben Scully, that's the great lion. I mean, if you watch a Dodger game, they'd mention something about Farmer John.

Jones: Well, I'll tell you what, his freezer was always full of it, that's how. That's terrific.

Carree: Oh, he's great, yes, yes, yes.

Jones: But anyway, get back to Yankee Stadium, the fact that they're going to build a new one on the same site, is that it?

Carree: Well, it's-- yes, it's right behind it or right close by. It's seems like in building the new parks you lose something. You have to-- I think they're going to move the monuments and they're going to do all those things, as well, but it's not the same. It won't be the same. I mean, it's just not going to be the same. It's funny, like, the Atlanta Braves moved from Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to Turner Field and--

Jones: What a place that is.

Carree: Yes, I mean.

Jones: Bits and glitz.

Carree: Yes, right, right. And that seems to be the thing with stadiums and all now. It's all about how much money they can make now with these new ballparks. And it hurts because the taxpayers are the ones who usually suffer, and yet the taxpayers are the ones who support the team and they buy all the-- they buy the caps, the jerseys. They attend all the games and all.

Jones: But you know, it's no longer a sport where you can go and take the kids on a Sunday afternoon. You can't afford it. When Baltimore built their stadium, Camden Yards, which is gorgeous, and of course, that whole part of the inner city was cleaned up, the harbor. And they moved from the old other one. Everyone said, "Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh." You know, and it is more expensive, but you can go out there and spend the whole day doing something in that one area, which kind of changes the scene, but still it's so upgraded.

Carree: Right, I know that the big thing, like, for instance, I know a lot of towns will have a baseball stadium and one of the things they-- when they try to sell the product it's about economic growth, but economic development, they want to build up restaurants, shopping centers around there and everything and stuff. And so I know when they've ever-- they've talked about building a ballpark, that's been the same thing here.

Jones: Yeah, they've been talking about that for a long time.

Carree: I think for a long time. And I don't see anything happening for a very long time.

Jones: Well, why is it, Chuck? Do you think that people here-- I mean, the people who are here, now, half of them are from the north, anyway. I've joked constantly about all of Long Island and northern New Jersey moving down here, you know. And they're sports minded, by and large. They're sports minded, multi sports, but people keep saying-- the people who are running this town say, "There's not enough money to support it. There's not enough money to support something like that." And yet I would think that there might be. It's a good family occupation and, you know, there's not a whole lot in the way of sports when the college isn't playing.

Carree: Right, I would love to have my little baseball-- in fact, growing up in Spartanburg, I've practically grew up at the baseball park there. And my only park, it was a-- one team.

Jones: You ever play yourself?

Carree: I played a little bit, but I wasn't a very, very good athlete. I had a bad arm. I mean, my arms hurt from the time that I was about 15 years old. I didn't have the skills to be a player, but I loved the game.

Jones: That's okay. They need the supporters, too. That's what my husband always says. He used to be such a baseball nut. I can remember many times when we're-- the first few years we were married, he had the radio on and he'd have a transistor up here, walk around the house-- mowing the lawn. I said, "Oh, you know, forget it." And right before our second child was born we were living in Coronado, California. He was still in the Navy at that time, and he and a friend, a lawyer friend, drove up to Los Angeles to see the Angels play a double header. I mean, a-- you know, anyway, I went into labor while he was gone and I vowed then and there I would never, ever attend another baseball game. But, of course, I got over it. And he told me in an argument, "Baseball is bigger than General Motors." What a nut. He never played the game. I can understand where you're coming from. Let's go back to your career in the other part of sports, which is just as important and that's getting to the public and so forth. You started in The Star News-- did you go to school here at all, or--

Carree: No, I went to the University of South Carolina and I graduated in 1977, and I looked around for a job and I was very lucky that I was able to find one really within about six months after I graduated. I had gotten some leads about a possible job in Fayetteville and then they told me that there was maybe a job opening in Wilmington, and all. And so, I came down and I interviewed and they hired me, and all. And I just remember I think my first assignment was about wrestling or something and I never seen--

Jones: At a high school?

Carree: Yes, and I knew nothing about it. And--

Jones: But you learned.

Carree: But I learned, yes, yes. And then I decided, "You know, I'm going to do some things that I know about." And so I started something that we started to run usually every week. It was a minor league report- a report on local players in the minor leagues. I discovered that there were a lot of players from this area. And I know that's something we're going to talk about a little bit later on, how many-- the volume of players this area produced. I was amazed at all of the players in the minor leagues around there. It just stunned me. And so I said, "We need to do a minor league report." And so, I would contact either the minor league or the major league team and talk with someone in their farm system about the local players, and all. And I ran their stats once a week and it's something that we still even do now, and everything. So, you're talking about something that started in 1978 and now it's been going for 30 years, now and stuff, and all. So, yes, it's just amazing, but I've covered a variety of sports. I've covered the high schools. I've covered the college, here. I've covered college basketball here. I cover college baseball here, now, and all. And I thoroughly enjoy the baseball team here. I think I started to-- I had covered them in the past, in the late '80s and early '90s some. It's funny, I think I'm showing my age, but I actually covered Mark Scalf, when Mark played baseball for the Seahawks. You know, so it's just funny now and you cover a team now and you see how this is just a strong program now, and stuff, and so, it makes it that much more rewarding. And so because they've done so well and there's a market for it, I've entered the world of blogging.

Jones: Oh, really. You might as well, everybody else is and that's where they're going.

Carree: Right, everybody else does. Right, yes, and so I do a UNCW baseball blog, yes. It is And I am a, obviously, a baseball nut. And I blog at least three times a week about UNCW baseball, and I'm amazed in the off-season here that the interest is still just as strong. Two weeks ago I checked to see how many hits I had on my blog on a particular day. I had over 1,000.

Jones: Is that right?

Carree: Yes, so people love it. They still--

Jones: There's still a market for it.

Carree: Right, yes, yes, yes. And that's one of the ways that the newspapers have changed, now, is the online, and all, that-- it's just something where-- that's where people seem to go find.

Jones: You know, of course this has been a big issue, and I want you to talk about that and the reasons-- people miss the newspaper. It is habit. It is where you get the news, where you become really up close and comfortable with the particular columnist or whatever, and their field. Where, you know, like on Sundays, I guess, particularly either before or if you get up at the crack of dawn, like we do, right after church you read the paper thoroughly and that's where you see what's happening. And, of course, you do get national news, too. The papers are getting smaller and smaller and smaller and the quality of work, quite frankly, is not what it used to be. They're not here long enough. They don't immerse themselves in whatever's going on, whether it's here or anywhere else. So, it's going to blogs and it's going to online everything and that's so impersonal, it really is. And is this going to continue? What about people who don't have computers? I know a lot of people who are younger than I am or just don't want to use it. I don't want one. And they're left out.

Carree: Right, yes. Well, I know that the news holes have gotten smaller. I think that-- what we're told is the cost of the newsprint is pretty expensive and I think that it's all a reflection of the economy. People really aren't advertising. I think papers and all make their money through advertising and people, I guess, aren't really advertising because people don't have as much money now and gas prices are so high.

Jones: But this has been going on. It's been decreasing.

Carree: It's been a gradual thing, right.

Jones: A lot of people keep their papers. They keep them for bet-- they clip them, you know.

Carree: Exactly, I think there'll still be papers, but to what degree, who knows?

Jones: Where does that leave someone like yourself, just blogging? You go out and cover things and write the story and you blog or you put it online.

Carree: Well, I know with the baseball, the UNCW things, this summer's (inaudible) down on the blog, and all, a lot more. But I know that, like, with papers it's not just this paper, but it's papers all over the country, I see where people are being laid off of all of the papers all over the country now. They're all having staff-- you know, cuts or staff reductions. And it's really changing. There's really nowhere to-- there's no way to really know how far this is going to go, but I understand what you're talking about because I know my wife and I, we like to read the paper in the morning when we get up. And I know talking with our neighbors, they look for the paper. I know that, like, circulation at the paper, and all, I think papers are finding ways to try to cut costs, you know, and one way is to reduce their circulation area. Like, I know The Star News, now, only goes into Brunswick, New Hanover and into counties, whereas it used to go into Columbus and parts of Sampson and the parts of Duplin County and now it's been reduced a lot, now.

Jones: Does this come down from The New York Times or is it the publisher or the editor's decision? Or is it both?

Carree: I think it comes down from the top. My guess-- I'm not real, real sure-- completely sure. But I think it comes down from the top because I think that the larger papers it seems like owns a lot of smaller papers. McClatchy owns a lot of papers and--

Jones: And they're supposedly one of the few that weren't suffering and now they've just announced a little bit different job.

Carree: Right, yes, yes, yes. So, it's just really, really changing and, you know, we've often wondered if-- I know at The Star News they have what's called online first. So, like, for instance, if you check the paper-- I mean, if you check online, say at maybe 9:00 or 10:00 at night, you may see tomorrow's stories already up there, and all, and stuff. But I think a lot of papers are sort of going that way and our jobs have changed. You know, you were talking about, you know, the newspaper and the jobs, well, now we do blogging. We do a lot of the things-- same things that you do on television. Like, for instance, we'll have a camera and we'll take photos. We'll do some videos of--

Jones: So, it's become visual, as well.

Carree: Visual, as well. Right, right, and I know we have reporters where we go out and we interview people and we get some voice to go online and everything-- some audio, and also--

Jones: Well, that's pretty high tech for a paper because all of you went to Jay school and you're taught to do things in a certain way, fill so many spaces and lines.

Carree: Yes, yes, and it's also harder because with less space it means that the stories are shorter so it's more of challenge to try to really write a story, I mean, that's going to tell people what's going on and make it really interesting enough that people are going to read it, as well. But you have to do it in a smaller space and it's a little harder.

Jones: Yeah, I guess so. And I think in many fields, but getting back to sports, I think that there's such a culture with the various types of sports, whether it's baseball, basketball, football. There are other followers. They're all very leaned about the sports. Many of them are triple sports enthusiasts, so it never stops one end of the year or other, but I think, too, that part of the reason these people, men and women, become so involved is the history and there's something comforting, I guess. Maybe it takes them back to their childhood, I don't know what it is. But being able to keep statistics and see them and read about them and have somebody get up close, like you. You mentioned Michael Jordan and a few others, I want you to talk about, that you knew. You could read them. You could talk about them that way. You knew their families. You don't get it that way.

Carree: Right, right. It's funny now how things have changed because of ESPN, for instance. You can get-- and with the internet, you can get so much of-- I mean, if something happens, you can know within a matter of, like, a few minutes now, what is going on and it's just changed everything. And stories now aren't just about who wins and who loses, it's about if-- like, if there's a soap opera, like, with the Green Bay Packers and Bret Favre and the organization, you know.

Jones: A-Rod.

Carree: Or A-Rod and Madonna, things like that. So, things are changing.

Jones: That cheapens things, though.

Carree: Yes, it does. It does. It does. It does.

Jones: Have you reached a point-- you probably did a long time ago-- when you-- you still cover high school, I guess. Can you spot some kid who you think, "That's an outstanding player right there." Have you reached that point where you can see, I don't know what it is because I'm not there, but you can pick them, pretty much.

Carree: Sometimes, yes, you can. It's changed now, though, because players are a little more developed and I guess my biggest concern now is you wonder how much better a player really is going to be. Like, for instance, football players, now, are so much bigger and stronger and you just wonder how much better are they going to get in college because, I mean, a person's 6'4", 300 lbs., now and just imagine-- it used to be that-- like, a good example is Clyde Simmons. He left New Hanover, I think Clyde was about 6'4", 6'5" and he weighed maybe 215 lbs. or so. Well, we had a frame in a room to where he could grow, and all. And now a lot of these high school kids have really big bodies and you just wonder if they go off to college, how much better are they going to be, you know, because then if they get stronger-- physically stronger, and they put on more weight, then they're going to weigh 350 lbs. and it's kind of hard to imagine a 350-pounder being able to move real well. And plus I wonder about health wise, is that really the best thing for their hearts, you know, and stuff. So, it just kind of makes you wonder a little bit.

Jones: When we lived in northern Virginia, which is really a sports minded area. I mean, it is very competitive up there and there were over a period of a little bit less than two years there were two football players, both of them outstanding athletes. But in the heat of the summer, of course, they're practicing. And they practiced twice a day to try to get the-- beat the heat, but that's not possible up there in that humidity. And they both dropped dead, both. And it was a lot of criticism and I don't think that there were any conclusions whether it was taking something to make them bigger and so forth, whether it was heat. They were certainly in shape because they practiced all the time. But, you know, that's kind of a thing. They didn't do that years ago.

Carree: No. You know, it's funny, but I know some of the old, old time coaches, they used to give their players salt tablets, you know, and stuff. And then sometimes they wouldn't give them much of a water break.

Jones: Just a sip of water.

Carree: Right, yes. And I don't know, that seemed to be very dangerous, but yet you didn't see players--

Jones: Passing out.

Carree: Passing out, and all, so--

Jones: Well, if they gulp too much water, it's going to sit there, you know.

Carree: Sit there, right, yes, yes, yes. It's interesting, though. I know, here they have some very good trainers that really monitor the high school kids around here because football practice starts in the heat of the summer, you know, and it's just during the whole--

Jones: Oh, I know it. They don't play in the heat of the summer, all suited up.

Carree: Right, yes. And see by, like, the end of the first week of practice, they're all out in pads and all. And gosh, it's hot. It's tough.

Jones: Who's the best athlete as a youngster that you ever watched, or would you care to say?

Carree: Here or when I was growing up in Spartanburg?

Jones: Doesn't matter, and more than one, that's fine, too.

Carree: Well, there was a guy that lived down the street from us that ended up playing for the Oakland Raiders. He was the-- a defensive back. His name was Howie Williams. He played in the second Super Bowl with Oakland, and all, against Green Bay, and all. He's one of the first ones to come to mind. Gosh, let's see, probably the people I went to high school with. I went to high school with a couple of players, Steve Fuller, he ended up going to Clemson as a quarterback and played for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chicago Bears. He was Jim McMahon's backup, number 85, Chicago Bears. And he was in that awful Super Bowl shuffle video. He was in that one. He was a great athlete. And then the other one was Wayne Hollison [ph?]. He ended up playing baseball but he was a-- played college football at Western Carolina. He was a wide receiver. He was about 5'7" or 5'8" and about 150 lbs., and he was hooked to the--

Jones: He was fast?

Carree: He was fast, very quick-- fast. But he ended up being a major league baseball player, played for a very long time, played some with the Yankees, the Texas Rangers and some other organizations, and all.

Jones: What is it about the Yankees? Everybody hates them. Everybody loves them.

Carree: The Yankees are one of those teams you either love or you hate. There's, like, no middle ground.

Jones: That's just amazing. I guess there are a lot of teams like that. There are schools like that, you know. Look what they do to Coach K and yet something's going on there, you know.

Carree: He wins.

Jones: He wins. I guess he's just disciplined and his kids are disciplined. But you just sit there and you think, "Lose, lose, lose."

Carree: Yes, but they rarely lose. Yes.

Jones: I know it. I know it. You covered the ACC?

Carree: Yes, I covered the ACC. I covered the ACC and the-- I think my first year was either '83 or '84. I covered the ACC for awhile, and all, and I covered football and basketball there and I saw, I think, my last year covering the ACC was 1993, when North Carolina won the national championship.

Jones: I keep hearing about that. In fact, I see shirts on people around my house. My husband works out the whack. Last summer he took a tour to Europe with I guess his direct tour and I decided to go into the bottom of his junk closet and clean up boxes because I thought, "If there's a fire, this place is going up." And I counted 52 shirts that I washed and folded. All of them had something to do with sports or World War II places, every one of them. But he's got every final four, everything and never lets me forget it. He flies a flag out in front of the house, along with the American flag. It's Carolina.

Carree: He's a big Tario [ph?] fan. Wow, wow.

Jones: There are people like that, but you covered this and 1993 was your last?

Carree: Yes.

Jones: Yeah, that was a game. Back in, let's say, the '80s, early '90s, was it as rabid and wild? We're people as die hard and feverishly fanatical over their teams?

Carree: They were for their college clubs, yes. And lots of high schools--

Jones: That's when Dean Smith was the master.

Carree: Yes, yes, yes, it's funny, but growing up in Spartanburg I was a Tario [ph?] fan growing up, loved North Carolina, but I think when you move to an area and you see how the fans are, everybody has obnoxious fans, you know. And I met some obnoxious North Carolina fans and it changed me from being a Tario fan.

Jones: They are so--

Carree: Yes, there are lots of obnoxious fans, but they're that way everywhere. Most of South Carolina, there are a lot of obnoxious fans this way all, and stuff.

Jones: Well, let's see, your mascot is the rooster?

Carree: Well, it's a rooster, but they call themselves the game cocks.

Jones: Yes, I know they do. Well, we have some kidding-- Chris Fondle [ph?]-- about that, among other people, but anyway. Did you enjoy the ACC or did you leave more oriented--

Carree: Yes, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the ACC. I know I enjoyed-- you know, growing up I loved basketball because I think what got me involved with basketball-- ACC basketball was I had an uncle that passed away when I guess I was about 11 years old, and all. And instead of going to the funeral I stayed home and I started watching a basketball game and I found comfort in that game somehow. It was a Duke/North Carolina game, and it was like I (inaudible).

Jones: How could you find comfort in a game like that?

Carree: Well, I had--

Jones: You were a kid.

Carree: I was a kid, yes. And I just liked the way North Carolina played and thought, "Wow, and this is why." And so I put up a goal in the backyard and started shooting baskets and things like that, you know, and stuff, and so I grew up in ACC country. That was when the ACC back then in the late '60s and early '70s, they only sent one team to the NCAA. Wait a minute, that was the ACC tournament champion and that was pressure and it was unbelievable.

Jones: How many teams were in the ACC back then, only about four or five?

Carree: I think there were eight, but South Carolina left the ACC. South Carolina was in the ACC and they had a dispute with the ACC and left and became an independent. And they were okay for awhile but then if you're an independent you need to be in a conference and they ended up joining the southeastern conference, but I think it was one of the worst mistakes they ever made. I think there were eight schools in the ACC. I think it was the Wake, and Duke, and Carolina and state, Maryland and Virginia, South Carolina and Clemson, and all.

Jones: Clemson, I hear, is a wild place to be. I understand they start riding up two days before and they bring their own brew with them.

Carree: And so, again-- yes, yes, yes, yes. It's a wild place.

Jones: Hold that tiger, huh? The tiger's unleashed, I think. You enjoyed all that, enjoyed covering that?

Carree: I enjoyed it a lot. Yes, I enjoyed-- did the ACC was fun. Covering-- I covered UNCW basketball and baseball and that was fun, as well. I've had the good fortune to see a lot of good athletes and I've covered a lot of really good events and everything, so--

Jones: How about Roman Gabriel or Sonny Jurgensen, he was too far back.

Carree: They were before my time, but--

Jones: You ever see them play?

Carree: Oh, yes. I watched them on television all the time, yes. I know some of my family members-- I wrote a column last year and some of my family members when we would play pick up football games and all some of them-- I had a cousin who loved Sonny Jurgensen. He wanted to be Sonny Jurgensen and there was another guy in our neighborhood who wanted to be Roman Gabriel. So, we'd have these games and these guys would pretend, one of them would be Sonny and the other would be Roman, and all, it was funny, and all. Here you are in a town, Spartanburg, South Carolina, and here you have people wanting to emulate two quarterbacks who grew up in Wilmington. You know, it's just amazing, I mean, the influence those guys had on everybody. I mean, not just here, in town, but just across the Carolina's, you know, and all. It's just mind boggling.

Jones: Yeah, it is, for a-- we're talking now, a span of a number of years. There's nothing recent. It didn't end. They're still coming along. High school sports is big here. We have all these tournaments that go on here. Hopefully, I'm going to be interviewing Gary Bender.

Carree: He's a wonderful man. He's one of my favorite people. He's wonderful.

Jones: And I love to hear-- you know, of course, he was a sideline type.

Carree: He's great.

Jones: But, you know, why did you choose to settle here? And then, I mean, a question for him, and there are others, too, why did you choose to settle here? Why do you keep your roots, here, or when you keep coming back and--

Carree: This is a wonderful town. There's something almost intoxicating about this place. You know, you get here and you look around. You go to other places and you come back and you appreciate where you live, here. It's just something-- it's very laid back. It has just a wonderful atmosphere. The climate's great. People are friendly. People are very nice. It's just a fun place to be and I think that people-- I know when people move away, they always think about coming back and retiring. And I know a lot of people when they look around, a lot of people used to retire down in Florida. I think they're starting to retire here instead of having to go all the way down to Florida.

Jones: That's all on to the standing dead. They're waiting to die down there. You covered several state championships, haven't you?

Carree: Yes, I saw Chris Wilcox from Whiteville. He's playing in the NBA. I think he's with the Seattle Sonics, but they're actually moving to Oklahoma City, so he was a player that I saw play in the state championships and he was a guy, you know, that you knew could be a big time basketball player. I think you asked me about this earlier, if you could spot someone. Well, he was obviously someone because he was 6'9" or so then and he was very athletic. He could really move up and down the floor and all, and so you knew he would make it. And I saw him play in the state championship and he obviously lent steam to the championship and then he went on to college, played for the Terrapins of Maryland, and helped them win a NCAA championship and--

Jones: That's a shame.

Carree: So, I gather that you're not a Terps fan at all, huh?

Jones: You ever seen a game played up there?

Carree: No.

Jones: It's insanity. It is absolute insanity. They not only have police cordoning off routes, the sports arenas and the fields, they have them all the way down the highway because it gets crazy. It is just absolutely crazy. I don't know what it is, the weather, the water, something about it. It's like, you go in and you think, "I hope I get out of here alive." And God help you if you wear a color other than red and white, you know?

Carree: Yes, right, right. Well, you know, it's funny--

Jones: I bet some coaches have been pretty dynamic.

Carree: Right, yes, they sure have. You know, it's funny, but I remember watching the Redskins play at RFK Stadium and that place, the stands would actually sway. It doesn't seem like, they don't stay--

Jones: You had to inherit those tickets.

Carree: Yes, right.

Jones: They were leather seat tickets. I know it.

Carree: It seemed like an unsafe place.

Jones: They used to get it in a divorce. They would ask in a divorce settlement, the tickets have to be-- really and truly you had--

Carree: It's amazing, just amazing.

Jones: I know. This is kind of fun, but this has been a passion of yours, in a way, has it?

Carree: What, sports?

Jones: Yeah.

Carree: Yes, I have loved sports since I can remember.

Jones: And your wife puts up with it, or does she like it, too?

Carree: She's not a sports fan but I think it works because she likes to read. She's a librarian, you know, yes. And so, I think because we do-- like, I know at home, with me I want to watch sports, and all, and she wants to read a book, so it works because now I don't have someone who's going to sit there and say, "Oh, no, he made a bad play there. Oh no, you know, that was a horrible call. That umpire's lousy." You know, something like that where I've got someone in my life that's just a very calm person that just sits there.

Jones: She goes to another part of the house, right?

Carree: No, we sit together.

Jones: In the same room?

Carree: In the same room, yes.

Jones: You don't make a lot of noise when you watch games then?

Carree: No, no, no.

Jones: That's the answer.

Carree: Because, see as a writer you're pretty much trained to sit there--

Jones: To watch?

Carree: -- and watch and report and observe, you know.

Jones: Well, see I live with a mad man. He screams at the TV. He calls games. He tells them all they're wrong. You know, so I-- the other side of the house. There's one thing, too. He was also an umpire for many years. Yeah, and started out in youth league and went to high school and then worked on some of the World Series for a junior World Series, high school World Series, college games, etc... To this day he sits there and he screams at these umpires. So, and I think, "Oh, this is just not worth it." But I also figure he could be doing other things that aren't nice. Do you have children?

Carree: I have stepchildren. I have a stepson who's 27 and a stepdaughter who turned 24. And my stepson's in New York and he works in restaurants. He wants to become a chef, you know. And my stepdaughter spent nine months in China. She went over there and she taught and everything and now, she's back here now.

Jones: She taught in China?

Carree: Yes.

Jones: What did she teach?

Carree: Oh, she taught the kids a variety of subjects, English and things like that, you know. And she really enjoyed it. She had a very good time. She's traveled quite a bit. She's been to France. She's been everywhere. She went to college. Her first two years were in Madrid, Spain. And then she transferred to UNC Ashville. You know, so--

Jones: That's a difference.

Carree: Yes, yes. So, she's had quite a variety of things that she's been exposed to and, you know--

Jones: Right, that's wonderful.

Carree: It is. I think so.

Jones: She'll never be bored and neither will you.

Carree: No, no, no, no.

Jones: Oh, my goodness sakes. Chuck, what have you got down the pipeline? What are you hoping to do? What would you like to do that you haven't done?

Carree: That I haven't done. Oh, maybe tour a bunch of major league ballparks or-- and things like that, or--

Jones: You ought to talk to Jerry Parnell [ph?], our manager. And he was the man that let you in. It's his passion.

Carree: Is it.

Jones: He plans someday, and I have someone at home like this, that they want to go to spring training everyplace they can and see a game in every major league ballpark. Now, here's the problem, we have a granddaughter that we raised. She has been in more major league parks than both of my sons and that ticks them off. But is there such a thing as just making your own tour? Taking a year or six months off and hitting them?

Carree: You probably can, but I'm not real sure, I'm not real sure what-- how I'm going to do that. That may be one of those things that I may do when I retire, and all.

Jones: But you never retire.

Carree: No, I like to work and so I'm going to do something, pretty much all my life probably. Something else I want to do is write books. I've actually written a book about a baseball scout. He was a 93 year old scout. It's called Scout's Honor.

Jones: Great title.

Carree: And unfortunately, we didn't finish the book. We self-published it, my wife and I did and we didn't finish it.

Jones: Talk to Jack.

Carree: Well, no, the-- we've already published the book, and all. But it was-- we were hoping to have the book done before the scout passed away, but he passed away, and all. And he was a wonderful man. And we also wrote a book about our dog, or our dog wrote a book Leaving My Mark: Autographical Musings of a Successful Business Dog. He had quite an imagination. He met a lot of dogs on our walks and they became part of their enterprises, which is the largest pet-owned company in the world, so-- so, he had quite a staff, you know. And he had, like, a lot of responsibilities, like, plate cleaning. Some of them were on patrol.

Jones: And did he protect your street?

Carree: He protected our street. And if he couldn't protect it, he found someone on his staff who could, yes.

Jones: I know that dog. That's amazing. Well, you got to be a good guy it you like dogs, so.

Carree: Oh, I love dogs.

Jones: But getting back to something that you haven't been able to do or to finish or something, seeing the stadiums is one thing, but--

Carree: And I'd like to write books, and all, and I have talked with Jack about a book about athletes. You know, we talked about all the great athletes that come through here, and all, and we've talked about maybe trying to do a book like that.

Jones: That would be great. Be a great Christmas gift. Get it ready in time for-- of course, you can't, but, you know.

Carree: Well, I'm-- well, that's just it. See, we had discussed it last year and my schedule got bogged down and I couldn't get it done this year. So, maybe we can aim for next Christmas, and all, to have the book. You know, books have to be done at least six months in advance, and all.

Jones: I know, at least.

Carree: At least that long, yeah, so.

Jones: I know about that.

Carree: There was one other thing that we had briefly touched on, you were talking about all of the great athletes. I was fortunate to come here at a time when athletics just really took off, here. I think I was a little spoiled. I thought that this was the way it always was. When I arrived, you had Michael Jordan, Clyde Simmons, Kenny Gattison. They all played against each other.

Jones: I wanted to ask you about Kenny Gattison. Yeah, okay.

Carree: Yes, and they all played against each other, and all. So, that was quite a time and it was just amazing. And Laney and New Hanover had all these great athletes, and yet they weren't even the best teams in your conference, and all. These other teams had just as many great athletes, as well. So, it was just a phenomenal time. I just remember thinking, "Wow, it's just incredible."

Jones: You must have thought you'd died and gone to heaven.

Carree: Yes, pretty much.

Jones: We've got only a couple of minutes left, Chuck, but how many sports editors have you worked for? Probably a whole-- don't try to count them.

Carree: My guess is at least nine or 10, perhaps even more. It's a lot.

Jones: Yeah, I imagine so. They move on to wherever it's bigger and better etc... etc... maybe not anymore, but at any rate. Well, this has been-- we could probably talk and just listen to you reminisce for another hour, but I don't want to keep you. I'd like to keep up with your book that you're going to write, and I hope you do. I can guarantee you got a couple of buyers right here, more than that. And it sounds wonderful and I think The Star News in Wilmington and UNCW are most fortunate to have somebody with your knowledge and you're so calm.

Carree: Thank you.

Jones: You are so calm. I guess that's why you continue to roll on, you just keep your self-control and enjoy it.

Carree: I try to just go with the flow.

Jones: That's good. You think we're going to have a couple of good seasons coming up in the ACC or in baseball? I know it's just ended, but still, you know.

Carree: I think so, yes. I think so.

Jones: I hope so.

Carree: I think the ACC is a wonderful conference and the Seahawks.

Jones: They are something else.

Carree: Yes, yes. I think Mark Scalf and his baseball program is just-- they continue to get better and better, and all, and I can see them being nationally ranked again very soon, maybe next year.

Jones: They're going to love to hear that.

Carree: Yes, I can see them-- they have a chance to move very highly into that upper echelon, I think, and all.

Jones: Good. Thank you.

Carree: Thank you. It was my pleasure.

Jones: Oh.

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