Several prominent names in the local slow-pitch softball arena will soon be called out from a podium in honor of their longtime commitment to the sport.
Ronnie Adams and Tom Inscoe, known for decades of playing in the Garner area, are set to be inducted into the U.S. Specialty Sports Association North Carolina chapter’s 2016 Hall of Fame. They and Tracy Baker of Clayton make up half of the group to be recognized on Jan. 7 at the RDU Hilton.
Adams is being inducted as a coach and manager, and Inscoe and Baker as umpires.
Inscoe, who now lives in Cary, was someone Adams looked up to when he first got hooked on softball in the mid-1980s. Adams also gave much credit to Andy Cook, who he said was the best player in Garner at the time and another person admired by all.
“Just a bunch of my buddies were playing and a couple I had met, Todd Jones and the late Ward Miller, the North Garner baseball coach,” Adams said. “All those guys just started playing a little church ball and it just escalated to more, more, more and better, better, better. I think it was the thing to do back then – it was just popular at the time.”
Adams joined the softball team at Holland’s United Methodist Church in 1995. About the time he started coaching there, in 2002, bats were booming for teams Adams played for that included players from Garner, Smithfield and Burlington.
“Teams merge with each other,” he said. “Sooner or later, you build a good team. We won four world championships as a team, second-place twice and third-place four times through various softball organizations.”
Adams played on Holland’s teams until 2010, but his final competitive year was 2007. He ventured into coaching youth softball at that time as his daughters played for North Garner Middle School and in the Garner Area Youth Sports League.
It’s a big honor, Adams said, to be a Hall of Fame selection for a sport that left him with more than just good memories.
“It’s just the relationships and friendships you build from that,” he said. “I probably would have never met two-thirds of those guys, and two-thirds of those guys are still my friends today.”
Inscoe was about 10 years ahead of Adams, having started playing in 1974 as a sophomore at Louisburg College. He began umpiring by about 1984, while continuing to play.
Most of his involvement ended after he was diagnosed with cancer six years ago, but he has umpired some since then and maintains his certification.
Like most people in softball circles, Inscoe developed an unshakable passion for the sport.
“To play four nights a week and every other weekend, you’re just so into it,” he said. “And to umpire two or three nights a week, you just have to love it. There’s nothing else to say about it.”
Inscoe said he wouldn’t have felt slighted if his name was never called for the Hall of Fame, but that he’s glad it did.
“A lot of people contacted me and said it was long overdue,” Inscoe said. “But there’s a lot of people who ought to be in there and probably will be soon.”