Sam Patton, former
Tourists player, dead at 91
Sam Patton, who
played for the Asheville Tourists and later started the Blue-White All-Star
basketball games for boys and girls, died Sunday after a long illness.
Patton grew up in Buncombe County and attended the old Swannanoa High School and later Western Carolina University.
He played professional baseball and spent some time with the Tourists. He had an outstanding year in 1946, hitting .345.
After ending his baseball career, he took a job with the Enka textile plant and for parts of five decades played and coached Enkas mill teams in baseball and basketball. Among the athletes he coached was Joe Gibbs, who would later coach the Washington Redskins to three Super Bowl titles.
"He was 14 years old and wasn't a real good ballplayer, but I liked the way he got on the other kids," Patton said in a story that ran earlier this year. "He was a rascal, a rowdy kid, but I liked the way he would get the other kids going by getting on them when they loafed or goofed off."
He eventually started the Blue-White game, which is played at the end of the high school season. North Carolina Coach Roy Williams, a WNC native, participated in the game as a player and later as a coach.