For Terry Sanford ace, baseball success is a family tradition

By Earl Vaughan Jr.

There’s an oft-repeated quote from the world of sports: Tradition never graduates.

Terry Sanford junior pitcher Brady Gore is living proof of the truth of that statement, and he carries a reminder of it on the field with him every time he plays baseball for the Bulldogs.

Gore is one of the primary reasons Terry Sanford clinched its eighth conference baseball title in the last nine years when the Bulldogs beat rival Cape Fear 6-1 this week.

The win improved his record as a pitcher this season to 6-0 and the team record to 12-0. 

Through June 6, Gore has an earned run average of .85 and has struck out 37 batters in 24.2 innings. At the plate, he’s one of Terry Sanford’s top hitters, with a .462 batting average.

But while his statistics are up to date, an important piece of his gear is a link to his family’s rich past on the baseball field. Whenever he plays, whether it’s pitching or in the Bulldog outfield, Gore walks onto the field with a 40-year old glove.

It’s a well-worn Wilson A2000, the same glove his father, Brian, used at Terry Sanford when he played there in the 1980s and later went on to Louisburg College. Brian’s dad, Bobby, played for Fayetteville High School back in the 1960s and was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles.

Gore’s glove is so unique that his teammates have given it a nickname, Pancake, because it’s so flat and broken in from years of use.

Bulldog coach Sam Guy is just glad that Gore got the chance to use the glove after the long layoff Terry Sanford and other baseball teams had to endure while the COVID-19 pandemic was raging.

“We had some student-athletes that were starting their third sport before we (baseball teams) got the opportunity to be together,’’ Guy said. “It made it very frustrating for us.’’

Gore said that once the high school basketball and football seasons were completed without major problem, he felt baseball would finally get its chance. 

But there were still challenges. “Chemistry is a big deal with teams, playing together, competing together,’’ Guy said.

There was also some rust, and Guy said it showed early with Gore. “The first couple of weeks, you could tell he wasn’t sharp,’’ Guy said. “His focus got better, and we’ve gone as he’s gone. He’s been outstanding.’’

Guy said the entire Bulldog team has been focused and the chemistry is great as well.

Gore agreed, adding the Bulldog team is made up of guys who are great friends off the field and just enjoy the added connection they have playing baseball.

On the mound, Gore said his focus is throwing as many strikes as he can and using his curveball to keep batters off balance. “I don’t throw insanely hard,’’ Gore said. “I hit my spots and throw what Coach Guy says.’’

While the baseball season so far has been satisfying for Guy, it’s also been a challenge dealing with the pandemic protocols. It’s also been tough on his assistant coaches, Brian Willis and Matt Holstein, who’ve had responsibilities in other sports that forced them to split coaching time with baseball.

“During football season they didn’t skip a beat,’’ he said. “We played (football) on Friday and they were here on Saturday morning (for baseball practice.).

“I know they have to be mentally and physically drained. They’ve gone above and beyond.’’

The baseball season is not over for the Bulldogs. This Saturday they will learn their opponent for the first round of the NCHSAA state playoffs, which begin next week. 

“If we play baseball it doesn’t matter who we are playing,’’ Gore said. “If we can execute, we can win the game of baseball.’’