A tradition dies in Tarboro

In 2002, The Daily Southerner newspaper of tiny Tarboro, N.C., published an article on Negro Leaguer and Tarboro native Hubert “Bert” Simmons. The article is including in this page about Simmons at the NLBPA Web site.

Tarboro was also the home of Hall of Fame Negro League pitcher Bill Foster, for a couple decades, a tale I detailed in this article in the Raleigh News & Observer. For a while, Foster played semi-pro ball for a team in the traditionally African-American town of Princeville, which is just across the Tar River from Tarboro.

You’ll notice that in the N&O story I quote former Daily Southerner sports editor and Princeville native Calvin Adkins.

I say “former” because Calvin is no longer working for The Daily Southerner. In fact, no one is anymore. The Daily Southerner shuttered its doors in May, an event detailed in this article in the Rocky Mount Telegram.

The Southerner had roots that traced back almost 200 years. Now it’s gone for good.

Why am I writing about this? Because I got my first professional gig at the paper when I got out of college way back in 1995. While I was in Tarboro, I met Calvin, which whom I have since been lifelong friends. I also met other dear friends during my stay by the Tar River, including Josh, Tonya and Robert.

When I learned of the Southerner’s closing from Calvin last night, I was shellshocked. I was like a knife had been driven into my heart. It hurt. It hurt badly. I loved the Southerner. I will always have fond memories of it. Tarboro and Princeville were unique, special places.

Bert Simmons knew that, as did Bill Foster. They probably read the Southerner, too, one in a while. Now no one is. RIP a grand institution.

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