Traditions
 

Red Cochran


John "Red" Cochran was a standout in football and baseball while at Wake Forest in the 1940s. Playing under the legendary Douglas Clyde "Peahead" Walker, Cochran was the tailback on the 1942 All-southern Conference team.

On Nov. 26, 1942, Cochran had an amazing day in a 33-14 win over South Carolina at Legion Memorial Stadium in Charlotte. In the first quarter, Cochran took a lateral pass and went 30 yards for a touchdown. In the third quarter, he broke through right tackle and went 54 yards for a score. Also in the third quarter, he sprinted 25 yards and threw a lateral to a teammate who went on to score. Cochran added a 57-yard punt return for a score in the third quarter and went 45 yards with an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

World War II compelled him to withdraw from the university to pilot B-24 aircraft for the Air Force. After the war, he returned to complete his eligibility.

An eighth round NFL Draft pick in 1944, Cochran played for the Chicago Cardinals from 1947-49. He recorded 15 interceptions in his first two seasons including two in the 1948 NFL Championship game.

After his playing days ended, Cochran moved into his first coaching job as a member of the Wake Forest staff. He worked his way into the professional coaching ranks and was tapped by Vince Lombardi to join the staff of the Green Bay Packers in 1959.

In his eight seasons there, Cochran developed one of the most acclaimed backfields in football history: quarterback Bart Starr and running backs Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung. The Packers won the NFL's inaugural World Championship Game in January of 1967; the contest would not become known as the Super Bowl for another three years.

During his coaching career, he spent time as an assistant coach with the Detroit Lions (1956-58), Packers (1959-66, 71-74), St. Louis Cardinals Cardinals (1968-69) and San Diego Chargers (1970). From 1975 until his death in 2004, Cochran was a scout for the Packers.

Cochran was born Aug. 2, 1922 and died on Sept. 5, 2004.

He was inducted into the Wake Forest Sports Hall of Fame in 1972-73. He was elected to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1996.


Horace "Bones" McKinney


Few persons have stirred basketball in the state as much as Horace Albert "Bones" McKinney. His coaching skills are highly respected. His sideline antics are legend. His warmth and regard for his fellow man are without equal.

From his playing days at Durham High School, N.C. State and North Carolina to his career as a coach at Wake Forest to his familiar voice behind the microphone of ACC basketball telecasts, Bones McKinney has lived his life in basketball before audiences everywhere.

McKinney graduated from Durham High in 1940 after leading his prep club to 69 consecutive wins and three state championships. In 1942, while playing for North Carolina State, McKinney led the Southern Conference in scoring. After being drafted into the Army, he was discharged in 1946 and continued his career at the University of North Carolina and led the Tar Heels to a second place finish in the NCAA Tournament.

McKinney went on to play professionally in the Basketball Association of America with the Washington Capitals and then with the Boston Celtics.

"Every basketball fan in the state of North Carolina knows Bones McKinney," wrote Smith Barrier in his book On Tobacco Road. But no fans love Bones McKinney more than those at Wake Forest University.

Certainly he is known for leading the Southern Conference in scoring while at N.C. State, and for helping North Carolina to the NCAA finals in 1946. But it would be as a coach for the Demon Deacons that Bones would become a regional hero and a nationally regarded personality.

A seminary student in 1951-1952, Bones was added to the Wake Forest basketball staff that season by Murray Greason. He sat beside Greason on the Deacon bench for five years and even served as head coach of the Wake Forest golf program for a time. On March 26, 1957, he inherited the title of head coach when Greason became director of athletics.

Red socks, a seatbelt on the bench, sideline gestures, word games with officials - all were part of the Bones McKinney basketball show at Wake Forest. "I coach as I played," he said. "I'm in all the way. I feel every play, every pass, every call. I react without realizing it."

More than a showman, Bones was also a winner, raising Demon Deacon basketball to unprecedented heights. His teams captured the 1959 Dixie Classic and played in five consecutive ACC Tournament championship games from 1960 through 1964, taking the top prize in 1961 and 1962. The 1962 club advanced to the NCAA Final Four in Louisville, finishing third with a season-ending win over UCLA.

Bones retired from his positions at Wake Forest in 1965 after compiling a 122-94 record over eight seasons. He later returned to the bench with the ABA's Carolina Cougars, but when he is referred to as "Coach," the immediate association will always be with the Old Gold & Black.

McKinney was born in Lowlands in 1919 and died in 1997 following a stroke.


Billy Joe Patton


Billy Joe Patton was the first in the long line of Wake Forest golfers to gain national prominence.

A 1943 graduate of the University, Patton gained national headlines for his phenomenal play while an amateur in the major professional tournaments. Included in his lengthy list of golfing achievements are berths on six Walker Cup teams, serving as captain once, and championships of the North-South Amateur (three times) the Carolinas Amateur (three times), and the Southern Amateur (twice).

In 1954, at the age of 32, Patton challenged two of professional golf's greatest players, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan, in the Masters.

Patton grew up in Morganton, N.C. and had already taken up golf by the age of 5. He practiced at the Mimosa Hills Golf and Country Club while growing up during the Depression.

After graduating from Wake Forest College in 1943, Patton spent the next three years in the Navy, much of it in the Pacific.

Patton earned an invitation to his first Masters after serving as an alternate to the U.S. Walker Cup team. He would eventually be invited to 13 consecutive Masters Tournaments. In 1954, Patton won the long drive contest held on Wednesday with a drive of 338 yards. Winning the contest also gave him confidence heading into the start of the tournament.

"Rather than think I was the new kid on the block and had no business being there, I said, `I know I can play as good as most of these fellows, or better.' I said `If I can also drive the ball as far, or farther than most of them, I had an advantage," said Patton in a 1984 interview with the Winston-Salem Sentinel.

Patton was the 18-hole leader and was tied for the lead after two rounds. He fell five shots back after the third round but then staged a remarkable rally on the front side on Sunday. He aced the par-3 sixth hole at Augusta National en route to a front-side 32 to put him even with Hogan and Snead heading to the back nine. A daring golfer, Patton tried for the eagle on both par 5s, 13 and 15. Both of his approach shots landed in the water. Eventually, Snead would beat Hogan in a playoff.

"The `7' (at the 13th) didn't kill me because I birdied the 14th," Patton told Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News and Observer. "But I lost the tournament at the 15th with a dumb shot - skulled a 2-wood into the water in front of the green from a bare lie.

"It wasn't choking and it wasn't pressure. I got birdies going for the pins, and I got the `6' and `7' going for the pins. I came down from Morganton with the intention of going for the pins for 72 holes. No regrets, no alibis."

"It kind of changed my life," said Patton to the Sentinel on his Masters rally. "One tournament. Suddenly, from being unknown, I was known. It gave me identity. That June I went to the U.S. Open and people knew who I was."

Ron Green of the Charlotte Observer wrote in a 1986 column that Patton "Played swashbuckling golf, happy golf, splendid in its result; golf that substituted soul for mechanism, golf that had dramatic uncertainty to it, golf to which bystanders could relate.

"His saving grace was a putter that loved him. He has often said that back when he was young, nobody could handle a 6-footer the way he could. He just didn't think he could miss."

Green continued: "There was a joy to his game that few playing at the upper level of golf could equal.

"All of it - his scrambling, his nerve, his down-home gabbing with the spectators, his passion, his grace, his humor - all of it made him the most delightful and endearing person I've ever come across in sports."

During his career, Patton would compete on six Walker Cup teams, post three wins in the North and South Amateur and two more wins in the Southern Amateur. He twice led the U.S. Open after 36 holes and each time finished as the low amateur. He was elected to the North Carolina Golfers Hall of Fame and in 1983, was elected to the U.S.G.A. executive committee. He also received the Bobby Jones Award presented by the U.S.G.A in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf.

Patton died in his hometown of Morganton, N.C. on January 1, 2011.

 

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