Pam Pack to honor versatile Phelps|Star athlete makes the Walk of Fame

Published 7:49 pm Thursday, September 24, 2009

By Staff
Brian Haines, Sports Writer
At Washington High School Al Phelps was a man of many hats, which would later be trait that would extend behind high school. Phelps was also a man of several jersey’s, and each had the letters CC stitched on them for co-captain. This Friday Phelps, one of the Pam Pack’s best athletes will add another honor to his list of athletic accomplishments as he will be inducted into the Washington Walk of Fame.
Phelps, who graduated in 1947, starred on the football, basketball and baseball teams and was the co-captain of each with another top-notch athlete named Freddy Parks.
“I’m honored to be inducted into the walk of fame,” Phelps said. “I’m very appreciative of the fact that they would think of me for this honor.”
The son of baseball manager Hugh “Happy” Phelps, who coached a professional team in Washington in 1913, Al said the passion for sports was embedded in his childhood. While he loved all three of the sports he played, Phelps said that baseball always had a special place in his heart.
“Baseball was my first love,” Phelps said. “I was just brought up believing that it was the most special sport.”
The 1940’s was one of the best era’s in baseball. Jackie Robinson had broken into the league in 1946, while Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio clubbed their way towards history.
DiMaggio, who won the MVP the year Phelps graduated from Washington, was one of Phelps’ favorite players along with fellow Yankee Whitey Ford.
On the diamond, Phelps played shortstop and was a pitcher, on the hardwood he was a guard, while on the grid iron he was the Pam Pack quarterback.
Phelps said that both the football and baseball teams had their struggles, but that the 1947 basketball had a lot of success, and is responsible for one of his favorite Washington sports memories.
“My best moment would probably be getting to the state championship with the basketball team,” Phelps said. “We made it to the 3-A state title game, but lost in double-overtime to Mount Airy.”
Upon graduation, Phelps spent some time at the University of North Carolina and also worked at the Washington Daily News before enlisting in the Army where he served from 1951-53.
In 1949 Phelps met Ashley Futrell, who hired the Pam Pack star to work as a sports writer.
“I worked for the Washington Daily News for about 11 months and I enjoyed it very much,” Phelps said. “It was Ashley’s idea for me to write a sports column. He called it ‘Phelps’ yelps’ and we ran it with a picture of a baby crying. It was a lot of fun.”
When Phelps got out of the service, he picked up right where he left off at Washington High School, playing many roles.
Phelps shuffled back and forth between UNC and East Carolina, before he joined the work force full time.
The affable Phelps, a retired travel consultant, was also in the hotel business for 20 years, and has added work in real estate and the insurance business on to his resume next to sports writer.
The versatile Phelps has also had many homes to match his many ventures. Phelps lived in Washington, D.C. for a while before moving to Charlotte where he has spent the last 20 years.
Phelps married his late wife Laura in 1985, and said he is excited to return to his old stomping grounds.
“The school I graduated from no longer exists, but I can’t wait to see the school now,” Phelps said. “I’m absolutely looking forward to going back there.”