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The Making of a Legend | By Thad Mumau


Chris Cammack has achieved legendary status at North Carolina State University. The school’s selection committee for the new Baseball Hall of Fame considered hundreds of former Wolfpack players for the inaugural class, and two stood far above the rest. Limiting that first class to Cammack and Mike Caldwell crowns them as top-notch players from a program that officially dates back to 1903. The college roommates will be joined by Sam Esposito, their Wolfpack coach, in formal induction ceremonies later this spring, but earlier this fall, they were honored during halftime of the home football game versus Florida State University. Plaques will hang at Doak Field to commemorate their Hall of Fame membership. “This is a tremendous honor,” Cammack said. “I’m obviously  flattered, by being selected to State’s Hall of Fame and by being one of the first two  players chosen. With all of the baseball that has been played by State teams and all of the great players, this is quite an honor.” “That I’m going in with my roomie makes it very,  very special.” Cammack, a third baseman, twice led the Atlantic Coast Conference in hitting and was a two-time All-America pick. He was a first-team All-ACC selection four times, a selection all the more meaningful because voting back then was done by the league’s players. Cammack was named the ACC Player of the Year as a sophomore, when he batted .429. As a senior, his .381 average, four homeruns and 20 runs batted in made him the runner-up for the honor (to Caldwell). His career numbers include a .362 batting average, a .460 onbase percentage and 153 runs accounted for (70 RBI, 83 runs scored). As freshmen in 1968, Cammack and Caldwell, a left-handed pitcher who spent 14 years in the major leagues, led the Wolfpack to its only College World Series appearance in school history. “Nothing ever surpassed that year,” Cammack said. “We had to win the ACC championship to play in the regional, and we really had no business doing that. We were about the fourth-best team in the conference talent-wise, but so many of our players had  big seasons. It was a magical year.” Asked to recount his most outstanding individual performance, Cammack said, “I don’t really remember any. What I mostly remember is that College World Series team and the camaraderie of all of our teams. The friendships, which continue after 40 years, are what stand out.” And there is one particular incident: “We had beaten Wake Forest in the last game of (the) regular season to win the ACC,” he said. “Mike gave up a leadoff single, and the guy was out trying to steal. Mike retired the next 26 in a row. “The regional was in Gastonia, and we had to beat a strong Florida State team in the finals. The night before the game, a reporter came to our room, and he asked Mike what he thought our chances were. Mike, who was pitching for us the next day, said, ‘We’re one run and nine innings from going to Omaha (site of the College World Series).’ “I could not believe it. When the reporter left, I said, ‘Mike, are you crazy?’ “The guy writes that in the newspaper, and Florida State players had the article taped in their dugout. They were all over Mike all day. “We won, 4-1.” Cammack never played professional baseball. He was drafted by the Washington Senators out of high school, was picked by the Philadelphia Phillies in the winter draft during his junior year at N.C. State and was taken by the Baltimore Orioles in the spring draft following his junior season. “I was not going to sign early,” he said. “I had told my parents that I would finish college. I went to college to get my degree, and I got my degree. That’s what people did back then. “After I graduated, I was ready to sign. I talked with Washington (Senators) again, and they had me over a barrel. I had no bargaining power. Their offer was not what I thought it should be, not after the year I just had for State. So I didn’t sign. “I had always wanted to play major league baseball, but when it was over, it was over. I have no regrets. I have had a good life. I am blessed.” Cammack, who was inducted into the Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame in 2007, also made his mark in high school basketball. At Fayetteville High School (now Terry Sanford High School), he scored 21 points in the North Carolina 4-A championship game in 1966, helping the Fayetteville High Bulldogs defeat Charlotte’s Myers Park High School and bring a second straight basketball title to his school and Coach Len Maness. A retired independent insurance agent, Cammack operated his own business the last 15 years of his career. He still lives in Fayetteville. CV