His name was William, but it’s likely nobody except his family knew it.
Even the people at his funeral Thursday afternoon in the church he had attended his whole life didn’t seem to know who this William was.
Buddy McCarter, longtime sports editor first at The Evening Herald, then The Herald, was plain “Buddy.”
Guys like Buddy McCarter do not come along every decade or generation in communities like Rock Hill and York County and the newspapers that tie those communities together like a Christmas present.
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For many in sports, who learned about sports and loved sports and lived sports, long before there was television news of local sports and websites, there was Buddy.
When District Three Stadium would rock in the rivalry between Northwestern High and Rock Hill High, McCarter would tell all who could not go what happened. He wrote of the joy of the win and the hurt of the loss.
High school sports is how many in our community mark time, and few marked it like Buddy McCarter.
McCarter, died Monday – but a guy like him who wrote about the greatness and sadness of sports, the thrill and the failure, the wins and the losses, really never dies.
His words and actions live on.
For more than 20 years, through the turbulence of school integration, McCarter was sports in York County from his position writing for, then running, the sports department. For 18 years he was the sports editor.
The pews at Park Baptist Church were filled with those who read his words, or were the subject of his words, about mostly high school sports. The best sportswriters know the fan is who they write for, not the player or coach in the story.
The Rev. David Kiehn, pastor at Park Baptist, spoke of McCarter’s “fairness” in covering all sports played by boys and girls, by whites and blacks, by those who were stars and those who were second-stringers.
Kiehn used the word “respect” to talk about McCarter, and how he respected the games he covered and the sportsmanship he demanded.
McCarter was an old ballplayer, too, even getting a shot with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system before an injury. He came back to Rock Hill and wrote about those just like him.
The mill hill kids who dreamed of glory. The poor kids who hoped for a way out.
“Buddy had a huge impact on thousands of athletes,” said Kiehn, himself a former football player.
McCarter even came up with the idea of The Herald Jamboree, which for 30-plus years was the preseason showcase for area teams to scrimmage before the season started.
All the teams played at big District Three Stadium, and McCarter knew that kids from Lewisville and Great Falls in Chester County would remember forever playing in that stadium under those bright lights on the main drag of Cherry Road in front of thousands.
Before and after Thursday’s service, the gates were locked at District Three Stadium. The season is a month away – with the first game to be televised by ESPN.
But McCarter knew the kid mattered more than the field, or the bright lights, or the cameras, or the coach.
Any sports editor must, sometimes, use his voice to tell of that fairness that the pastor spoke of when describing McCarter.
McCarter backed the addition of black players from the St. Mary Catholic Church softball team to the all-white city leagues during a time when custom dictated that blacks and whites play separately.
That took guts. It took courage. It took a belief in sportsmanship and fairness that so many sportswriters have claimed to champion, but few ever stick their necks out for.
He pushed for a scholarship and basketball tournament to honor coach Lindberg Moody after he died in a car crash.
Near the end of the service, Kiehn said McCarter was known in his hometown of Rock Hill as a great athlete. A runner so fast, his 100-yard dash time was tops for a dozen years.
He was a great sportswriter, with honors that included three times at the top of his field as voted by his peers. In 2005 he was elected to the York County Sports Hall of Fame.
But the measure of Buddy McCarter is more.
As Kiehn put it, after calling McCarter great at sports and sports writing: “He was an even better man.”