Sept. 5, 2007
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina University will induct its 1949 championship football team and a pair of 1950s graduates who had nationally recognized coaching careers during its annual athletics Hall of Fame ceremony on November 17. Joining the '49 squad are alums Jim Garrison and Dave Bristol - both Western North Carolina natives - who will be the first recipients of the WCU Athletics Hall of Fame Career Achievement Award, which recognizes WCU graduates who have distinguished themselves in athletics leadership positions.
The 18th Annual WCU Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held prior to the WCU-Furman University football game on Saturday, Nov. 17 at a site to be announced.
The 1949 football team will be the fourth WCU team to be inducted. The 1963 men's basketball team, the 1969 women's basketball and the 1983 football team - all of which played in national championship games - were enshrined in 2003. The '49 Catamounts won the North State Conference championship by going unbeaten in league play, and finished regular season play with an 8-2 record. It was also the first Western football team to play in a postseason game, competing in the Smoky Mountain Bowl in Bristol, Va.
Hall of Fame head coach Tom Young led the Catamounts to a sweep of conference rivals Appalachian State, East Carolina and Lenoir-Rhyne, holding them to a combined 12 points. The team featured All-America lineman Arthur "Ott" Byrd and three other players - Dan Robinson, Tommy "Bromo" Selzer and Hugh "Pee Wee" Hamilton - who have been inducted into the WCU Athletics Hall of Fame and All-North Conference selections Hugh Constance, Ralph McConnell and Ralph "Buffalo" Humphries.
Garrison transferred to Western from Gardner-Webb, then a junior college, and played two seasons (1953 and 1954) for the Catamounts as a halfback. He was an All-North Conference selection and co-captain of the '54 team. The native of Weaverville and 1955 Western graduate became head football coach at Chowan College, located in Murfreesboro, NC, in 1958. He built that junior college program into a national power, winning 182 games in the process, third all-time among the nation's junior college coaches.
He has already been inducted into four halls of fame - the National Junior College Athletics Association, North Carolina Sports, Gardner-Webb, and Chowan. The football stadium at Chowan University was named to honor Garrison's career.
He retired as head coach after 43 seasons, but continues to serve as an assistant football coach.
Bristol signed with the Cincinnati Reds out of Andrews High School in 1951 and played in the Reds minor league system as an infielder for 11 seasons and was a player/manager for five of those seasons. While playing and managing during the 50s, he completed his undergraduate degree requirement and graduated from Western in 1959. Bristol won five league championships in nine years as a minor league manager and coached numerous future major league all-stars including Pete Rose, Tony Perez and Tommy Helms.
Bristol became Major League Baseball's youngest manager at 33 when he was named the Reds field boss in 1966. After four seasons in Cincinnati, he became the Milwaukee Brewers manager for three seasons, 1970-72. He the managed the Atlanta Braves in the '76 and '77 seasons, concluding his managerial career with the San Francisco Giants in the 1979 and '80 seasons. He later coached for the Philadelphia Phillies and Reds before retiring in 1993.
The veteran of 42 years of professional baseball was elected to the Western North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2000 and the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. Currently residing on his horse and cattle ranch in Andrews, Bristol continues to be a regular at WCU's athletics contests.