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Couple to make historic mark

Carl and Nancy Crenshaw Duffie will become the first man and wife inducted into the Halifax County-South Boston Sports Hall of Fame when the annual banquet and induction ceremonies take place Saturday at Halifax County Middle School.

The Duffies, talented athletes in a number of sports, join standout golfer Charlie Baskervill, former NFL and collegiate football standout Tyrone Davis and late auto racing standout Ray Hendricks in this year’s class, with the banquet and induction ceremonies getting under way at 6:30 p.m.

That is an esteemed group of inductees, and the Duffies said they were surprised to be included.

“I was shocked when they told me,” said Nancy Duffie, who led Wilson Memorial High School to a pair of county basketball championships and also played all-star softball for almost 40 years.

She was one of the leading scorers for the Hawks semi-pro basketball team and coached her daughter, Tammy, in the Halifax-South Boston Dixie Softball League, later taking a Dixie Softball 11-12 all-star team to the World Series in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Carl Duffie won the coveted T.C. Watkins Award his senior year at C.H. Friend High School in 1951, after a stellar high school athletic career in football, basketball and baseball.

While serving his country in the Korean War, Duffie played on a softball team that won the European Softball championship.

Nancy Duffie said she was shocked when she received the news of her induction.

“I only played sports because I loved every one of them,” explained Nancy Duffie.

“My favorite was softball.  I started with fast pitch for four or five years and then went to slow pitch.”

Duffie played in the Ruritans slow pitch softball league for a team sponsored by Terry Averette and named Terry’s Angels.

She recalled playing against teams sponsored by Ziggy’s Pizza and Bridgeview Exxon along with teammates such as Kay Gilbert Newcomb, Annette Lewis and Millie Gurley.

She played softball for almost 40 years and basketball for eight years, including four years at
Wilson Memorial High School and four years with the Lady Hawks, who were coached by Addison Marable, the same coach who worked with Carl Duffie when he played for the men’s version of the Hawks.

Nancy Duffie has also bowled since 1962 in the same league, The Southern Belles.

The future couple had lived two houses away from one another but never really knew each other until Carl returned from Korea, according to Nancy Duffie.

“I lived with my sister, and there was one house between my house and his house,” explained Nancy Duffie.  “I knew his sister, but he was in service.

“When he got out of service we got to know each other and started dating.”

Carl Duffie was likewise surprised when the Hall of Fame came calling.

“I was shocked when I was nominated,” said Carl Duffie, who expected his wife to get the call from the Hall.

“I was looking for her to get it.  Bobby Wilborn came up and told us.  I had talked to him two or three years previously, and he told me, ‘We’re going to get her in.’

“He told me I was in it, too, and I had to sit down for a few minutes,” Carl Duffie recalled.

Duffie was a standout in several sports in high school.

“I was into everything,” he explained.  “I played football and basketball for four years, was a team captain (basketball) my senior year and lettered 12 times.”

Duffie also played baseball, but he admitted his favorite sport was basketball, where he experienced the most success.

“We were playing the same teams we play now,” recalled Duffie, including GW-Danville and E.C. Glass, although C.H. Friend was Group 2, District 4, a level below Glass and GW.

“We still played them.  One time I remember hearing our enrollment at C.H. Friend was 185 people, so take half of that for women and half of that again for the boys who didn’t participate and some of the teams we played probably had more on their team than we had boys in school.”

“We won three (basketball) district championships in succession and went to the state tournament three years in a row.”

“Our best showing was my senior year when we lost in overtime in semifinals of the state,” recalled Duffie, who counted among his teammates such athletes as Odie Green, Barry Saunders, Buddy Yancey, Cameron McRae, John Allred and his brother, Gerald.

Several of his teammates received athletic scholarships to schools such as the University of Richmond, Duffie added.

When he got out of the service, the fast pitch softball for men was gone, so Duffie played county league baseball for Berry Hill before the league disbanded, against teams like Mount Laurel, Turbeville, Alton and Virgilina.

That was Saturday afternoon entertainment before the proliferation of television sets, Duffie added.

Both Duffies later got involved in coaching in addition to holding down full-time jobs.

“I came out of service and went to work for Imperial Tobacco for 17 years, then I got a job with Suntrust Bank and had 19 years with them,” said Carl Duffie.

Duffie coached T-ball through minor league and major league Dixie Youth baseball teams and then in the Babe Ruth league (13-15).

“We had some good teams and championships in each division, one in the minor league and one in the majors,” he said.

“Marvin Oakes helped me with the minor and major leagues, and in Babe Ruth I was assistant to Hustler Gravitt.  I think we won one championship in Babe Ruth when I coached,” Duffie added.

“If you saw progress in the boys you got enjoyment out of it,” added Duffie, who over the years has run across many of the youth he coached.

“Their lives change as ours change…you want to see them all do well,” he noted.

He admitted he recognized the faces but not some of the names of those he’s coached years ago, adding they would recognize him first.

“I have that happen quite often,” he admitted.

Nancy Duffie worked for optometrist Dr. Robert Burrage and then at a Gulf plant for Charlie Penick, before working for Smith Automotive.

Her coaching career was brief, her only foray into coaching being the one year in Dixie Softball.

Each got a chance to coach their own children, with Nancy Duffie coaching daughter Tammy and Carl his son Jay in baseball.

Both Carl and Nancy are looking forward to the induction ceremonies.

“I’m looking forward to the induction banquet, it’s a real good get together and sort of a homecoming, and you do see people return,” said Carl Duffie.

“Addison Marable will introduce us,” added Nancy.

“He knows more about both of us than anybody.”