Memories of meeting Mickey Mantle in Triad have lasted a lifetime for Tom Calloway (2024)

Tom Calloway doesn’t remember much from sixth grade in the spring of 1958, but he sure can’t forget the time he met Mickey Mantle.

It was a glorious day in his youth at the old Ernie Shore Field in Winston-Salem when the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies barnstormed their way back to their respective cities by playing an exhibition game. The game was played after spring training and before opening day of that Major League Baseball season.

“I must have skipped school that day,” said the 78-year-old architect who was born and raised in Winston-Salem.

Calloway wasn’t alone in deciding to take a day off from school because in the Journal’s newspaper account from the Phillies 12-8 win it was estimated that more than 10,000 fans were there. And most of them were kids looking to get any of the players' autographs or even a picture.

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Memories of meeting Mickey Mantle in Triad have lasted a lifetime for Tom Calloway (1)

“I just remember standing there and being in awe of meeting Mickey Mantle,” said Calloway, who is the principal emeritus of CJMW Architecture in Winston-Salem. “What made it even more memorable was a Journal photographer took our picture and it landed on the front page the next morning.”

The candid shot of Mantle was him standing outside the dugout meeting three youngsters, Calloway, Jeff Byrd and Johnny Brinkley. Byrd was the son of Carlton Byrd, the sports editor at the time at the Journal.

“We actually went to the game with Mary Garber (a sportswriter at the Journal) and Carlton Byrd, and Jeff’s dad was the one who sort of arranged it all,” Calloway recalled.

Calloway was a big baseball fan growing up and used to send away to teams for different player’s autographs. He already had Mantle’s autograph, so he felt compelled not to ask for it this time.

“I wish I still had that autograph but I’m not sure what happened to it,” Calloway said.

One thing he still has, however, is a blown-up photo of the encounter, which he has on his phone as well. He laughs at how many times he pulls out that photo to show people.

He admitted that if somebody brings up the name Mickey Mantle in casual conversation, he’s ready for the story.

“I’m not shy about telling it because it was one of the biggest moments of a young baseball fan’s life,” Calloway said.

Calloway said he doesn’t remember what he was feeling the next day at school, but says he probably walked a little taller.

“Oh, I’m sure I was on cloud nine because I got to meet Mickey,” he said. “It wasn’t any long encounter and I don’t recall what he actually said but I don’t remember me having much to say. We were all in awe.”

Memories of meeting Mickey Mantle in Triad have lasted a lifetime for Tom Calloway (3)

Covering the game back then

Roy Thompson wrote a game story about the big day in Winston-Salem because it wasn’t every day two professional baseball teams played here.

In the account of the game, Thompson said Skeeter Francis, who was the sports information director at the time at Wake Forest, was the public address announcer.

Thompson wrote that there were so many fans at the ballpark that if everyone would have exhaled at the same time the outfield fences would have collapsed.

At several points during the game Francis had to plead with fans to get out of the way of the Phillies dugout. And at one point he even asked fans to get out of the dugout.

What it means to Calloway

As Calloway tried to recall bits and pieces of a 12-year-old’s day at the ballpark, he couldn’t help think about Mantle being in Winston-Salem.

Ernie Shore Field has given way to Couch Ballpark, the home of the Wake Forest baseball team.

“Mickey Mantle stood at that home plate and played baseball right here,” Calloway said. “In my mind that was a big deal and even after all this time that’s sort of amazing.”

While Calloway and his two friends got to meet Mantle in a calm manner, Thompson wrote about how Mantle was mobbed everywhere he went before the game and even during the game.

“The little boys mobbed the Mick at the clubhouse door, and he was up to his ears in little boys from there to the dugout,” Thompson wrote. “He signed his name so many times on the way he must have been all tuckered out before the game even started.”

One of the reasons the memory of Mantle came back to him recently was the death of Willie Mays. Skip Foreman, the sports editor of the Journal and the Greensboro News & Record, wrote a columnabout the time Foreman met Mays when Foreman was 13 years old.

"That story was something that made me think about meeting Mickey Mantle because I was one of those lucky people who got to do so," Calloway said.

Memories of meeting Mickey Mantle in Triad have lasted a lifetime for Tom Calloway (5)

A love of sports in his business

Calloway and his firm, CJMW Architecture, have a long history of building throughout Winston-Salem and the state starting in 1906, when it was founded by Willard C. Northup.

CJMW built Truist Stadium, where the Dash play baseball, and it did the recent addition to Kidd Brewer Stadium at Appalachian State. The firm also built the Nido & Mariana Qubein Arena and Conference Center at High Point University.

“As a group we do feel sports is important, such as the relationship we have with High Point University,” Calloway said.

Calloway’s love of baseball and all sports plays a part in his life, and his business.

Calloway is an N.C. State graduate, and he isn’t too shy to brag about the Wolfpack’s fortunes this year.

“What a year for N.C. State in athletics,” Calloway said about the football team playing in a bowl game, the men’s and women’s basketball teams getting to the Final Four and the baseball team reaching the College World Series.

One of the projects that Calloway and fellow architects John Drinkard and Susan Perkins are excited about is a new park that’s planned for Randolph County near the Asheboro Zoon.

The Possibilities Park will have its kickoff phase in 2025 and the project will cater to special needs children. The 83 acres will give special needs children a place to play, and families can come and spend time there with plenty of options and choices.

“This is really something that we are excited about, and it’s something we’ve been planning for a while,” Drinkard said.

Calloway says it’s one of their most important projects to date.

“Nobody is opposed to helping special needs kids,” Calloway said.

Back to the sixth grade

Calloway attended Ardmore when he was in sixth grade, and during that time he was a newspaper delivery boy for the Journal and the afternoon version called The Sentinel.

“My dad would wake me up at five o’clock in the morning and I’d go get my bundle to deliver the journal in our neighborhood,” Calloway said. “And when I played sports or had practices in the afternoon I’d have to find somebody to deliver The Sentinel.”

Because he had connections at the Journal, he called about getting a copy of the front-page article and succeeded.

“I’ve had the photo ever since, and they were nice enough to get it for me,” Calloway said.

Calloway went on to go to Wiley Middle School for eighth grade and then Dalton for the ninth grade before graduating from Reynolds High School in 1964.

Calloway said that he stayed in contact with his other two friends in the picture. Byrd, who went on to be a top-notch promotor of the Bristol Motor Speedway as president and general manager, died in 2010 from cancer. He’s in the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

Binkley is retired from the military, where he was a major in the Army, and Calloway says he lives in Virginia, not far from Washington, D.C.

“John (Binkley) was two years younger than me in that picture and was 10 years old, and Jeff was 7 years old,” Calloway said.

There’s a sense of pride when Calloway looks at the photo because not everybody gets to meet their idols.

“I know how lucky I was, but the odds that Mickey Mantle even came to Winston-Salem is still hard to believe,” Calloway said as he looked down at the photo again. “It was a great day.”



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Memories of meeting Mickey Mantle in Triad have lasted a lifetime for Tom Calloway (2024)


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