Doug McDaniel has spent much of his life sifting through decades worth of data online, scouring old newspapers and tracking down primary sources in hopes of documenting the athletic history of Mount Airy City Schools.
McDaniel’s meticulous research has connected Granite City student-athletes, coaches and fans of today with those of the past century. His work began primarily in football, but has since spread to sports across the board.
In all his trips down the rabbit hole, McDaniel has unearthed some of the most successful athletes in state history that also called Mount Airy home.
The 1973 graduate of Mount Airy High thought he’d discovered the best athletes from the city’s history, especially in football and basketball, by now. If someone told McDaniel there was someone he missed in his research, McDaniel would be skeptical to say the least.
Never in his life was McDaniel so elated to recently learn he was wrong.
As it turns out, a world class athlete named Ted McBride sat just a few pews away from McDaniel at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. The two knew each other for the better part of 50 years.
McDaniel just happened to run across an old article about McBride within the past year. McDaniel considered McBride a dear friend, but he had no clue McBride possessed such an incomparable resume. It included state championships, a few All-American selections and a pair of Olympic medals.
There was no question then that McBride deserved to be known as a true legend.
“I think he’s the best athlete that Surry County has ever known … and maybe will know,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel isn’t the first to believe this, either. In a 1957 article from The Mount Airy News, author Joe Griffin said the following:
“When one surveys the historical annals in search of who was probably the best athlete ever to emerge from the Granite City, he can hardly overlook the performances of a young deaf athlete by the name Ted McBride.”
You name it, he did it
Ted Lee McBride was born Nov. 29, 1934, to parents Benson Boss and Kate McBride.
He grew up in a big, white frame house across from the old Flat Rock High School. According to McBride’s widow, Eugenia, he attended school at Flat Rock until his mother realized he was not progressing.
As a result, his mother decided the best thing to do was to send McBride to the North Carolina School for the Deaf in Morganton.
“She told me, ‘That was the hardest thing I ever had to do, to leave my son; and I couldn’t go back for two weeks,’” Eugenia McBride said, stressing how beneficial the move was to her son’s life. “Ted credits that to his success. He had good parents and good teachers that influenced him a whole lot.”
McBride started attending the school in 1946. Because he wasn’t fluent in sign language, McBride had a lot of catching up to do in school. As a result, he didn’t enter high school until 1950, just a few months shy of 16.
School officials learned very quickly they had a star in the making. Griffin’s article stated that McBride was tall, fast and, most importantly, humble.
“You name it, he did it,” Eugenia said.
McBride morphed into an all-time great in football, basketball and track.
As a tight end and defensive end, McBride helped the school record three perfect seasons in 1951, 1953 and 1954. McBride earned All-American honors in three straight seasons from 1952-54. The school had an overall record of 22-2 during that three-season span.
The school’s undefeated season in 1954 was good enough to rank them third in the nation. In addition to being named an All-American for a third time, McBride was named National Player of the Year by ‘Silent Workers,’ a national magazine popular with the deaf population.
McBride also served as the school’s basketball center during his high school years. He led the team in rebounding for most of his high school career and was named a member of the All-American Second Team by ‘Silent Workers.’
Track and Field was the latest of McBride’s sporting endeavors, picking it up in 1953. It went on to be the sport in which he experienced the most success after high school.
While at the North Carolina School for the Deaf, McBride set numerous school records in hurdles as well as the pole vault. He led the team to a national championship and was named the top individual performer in the Asheville Relays – the top state event in track.
McBride captured three state championships in the Western North Carolina High School Activities Association, which didn’t merge with the N.C. High School Athletic Association until 1977.
McBride aged out of high school sports in 1955. As he finished school, McBride played basketball in an industrial league in Morganton. He led the team to a 13-2 record and was named to the all-league team.
He later represented South Carolina in the National Deaf Tournament that year. Teams from across the country convened in Washington, D.C. McBride helped South Carolina finish second in the tournament.
Graduation came in 1956. He ended up staying in Morganton to work in the maintenance department.
The completion of high school did not mark the end of McBride’s athletic career. In fact, he arguably made the biggest impact after school.
The United States was tasked with assembling a team for the 1957 Deaflympics in Milan, Italy.
From Griffin’s article: “He was so well liked and respected that, when NCSD was given an invitation to enter an athlete for competition in the Deaf Olympics [sic], Ted was the unanimous choice.”
Fundraisers in both Morganton and Mount Airy helped raise the $1,200 necessary to send McBride to Italy. He was set to compete in the 110-meter hurdles and 400-meter hurdles.
McBride stood tall at the international competition just as he had at every other level.
The 110-hurdles was McBride’s specialty. He finished the race in 16.2 seconds to earn the gold medal. This was 0.8 seconds faster than the previous Deaflympics world record.
Competing in the 400-hurdles was new to McBride, as schools in the states only went up to 300 meters at the time. This was the first time he’d competed in such a race competitively, and he still managed to grab a medal. He earned a bronze medal with a time of 56.7 seconds, just 0.2 seconds behind the silver medalist.
McBride’s two medals helped Team USA win the overall track and field event. He was featured in publications such as The New York Times and in stories by the United Press.
His athletic career slowed following the Deaflympics. McBride earned an All-District award from the National Basketball Congress of America in 1959. He was later inducted into the North Carolina School for the Deaf Athletic Hall of Fame in 1979 and then the Southeast Athletic Association of the Deaf Hall of Fame in 2012.
“Ted McBride is right up there with anybody as far as greatness goes,” McDaniel said. “I challenge anybody to have his credentials of athletic achievement. Not just countywide, not just statewide and not just nationwide…but internationally.”
He was just Ted
Given McBride’s incredible athletic past, it’s almost unfathomable to think most people never had a clue about it.
Eugenia McBride explained her husband was always humble and more interested in other people’s lives and stories. In fact, she said when they got married all of his medals and awards were in a shoebox in the trunk of his car.
“He didn’t brag about this,” Eugenia McBride said. “He was just Ted; a Mount Airy boy. If someone asked, he would tell you about it, but he never brought it up. That’s about the only way I know to describe it.”
“When he looked at you and he smiled … I don’t know how to explain it,” McDaniel said. “It’s like a smile of caring and of love. Like saying, ‘When I’m looking at you, you’re the most important person on earth.’”
Eugenia and Ted met through the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. A couple in the congregation had a daughter that was about to graduate from Ted McBride’s old school and wanted to attend a church in Mount Airy that had an interpreter.
“We had a missionary come to the church and God just called me,” she said. “I got a call to go to that alter at the end of the service to commit to learning sign language. I couldn’t have done it without God.”
The first teacher Eugenia McBride had left the church when she had been learning for a while, saying now was the time to immerse herself in sign language. So, she and a few women from church went to beg her future husband to teach them and he agreed.
Shortly after they began dating and eventually married in 1970.
“I tell everybody I married the teacher,” Eugenia said.
Together, the two had a daughter, Rebecca, that is now married to Brad Calloway. Rebecca and Brad have two children in college: Hayden and Haley.
Ted McBride went on to work at Pike Electric and was well respected as a master electrician, McDaniel said. He attended church every week he was able and always cared for his friends and family.
Eugenia McBride said that being deaf did not bother Ted, and that he didn’t see it as a handicap. Rather, it was just the way life was. Whether in athletics or when raising a family, McBride worked hard and never took shortcuts. It he was going to do something, it was going to get done right, Eugenia McBride said.
“I get a little emotional about Ted McBride because he was such a dear friend of ours,” McDaniel said. “He would kind of get you started about what you’re doing and never wanted to talk about himself. He just kind of deferred everything away from him. To be more like Ted McBride is what we should all strive for.”
“Up here we didn’t even know about his past, and down there in Morganton he’s a legend. He needs to be a legend up here, and he needs to be talked about.”