Remembering coach Bartley Bay

Published 5:25 pm Monday, January 13, 2020


The name Bartley Bay is remembered fondly by people my age and older. Bay or Coach Bay, as he was affectionately called, was the recreation director when my age group first met him. His son, Jerry, was our age and his daughter, Barbara, was only two years ahead of our class in school. Regardless of the reason why he got involved with us, we all loved Bartley Bay!

Bay was a basketball man at heart but loved all sports equally. Basketball was his forte, and that is how we first met. He started our age group playing basketball in the old armory every Saturday and stressed fundamentals and drills that made us better. We would ride our bikes or walk to the armory every Saturday to meet Bay to practice and then play an organized game with officials. This later evolved into a league, and we would play one another each week as we were divided into teams.

My fondest memory of Bay is when he came up with the idea that we could play at halftime of the varsity basketball game on Friday night. We ran onto the court with our shorts up to our waist and in front of a crowd for the first time. Donnie Waters, Dave Tayloe, Bubba Gerard, Jerry Bay, Bruce Linton and Terry Smithwick and many others remember that experience all too well. We played our hearts out if only for 10 minutes. Later, in high school we laughed about it, but it was Bartley Bay who came up with the idea.

This would not be our only experience playing for Coach Bay. In our freshman year in high school, on the jayvee basketball team, Coach Alligood arranged for us to play Bath High School. He figured we needed the playing time so he asked Coach Bay to take us to play their varsity team one afternoon. Bath’s star player was Larry Picard who grew up in our neighborhood but had moved to the Bath school district. We had played against Larry many times in pick-up games on the blacktop behind the high school. By this time, he had gotten bigger, taller and much better. Despite our best effort, Bath won!

There were other times that Mr. Bay took his time to coach us, and we are forever thankful. Phil Edwards and Lee Drake can remember those stories far better than me. Still, they were great opportunities that I have written about earlier in reference to Bartley Bay.

For those of us that had the experience and privilege of getting to know Bartley Bay we are better people because of it. His smile was contagious and would light up any room. Mr. Bay passed away after retiring to live in Florida, but I guarantee he is looking down from heaven and thinking my boys did OK! Thank you, Bartley Bay, for the influence you had on us at such a formidable age. It will not be forgotten.

They were the best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, N.C.! The Original Washington!


— Harold Jr.

Harold Robinson Jr. is a native of Washington.