By MICKEY FURFARI
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
William “Bill” Hawley, a Morgantown area native who now lives in Wilmington, N.C., will be back here on Sunday for the closing of historical Hawley Field.
That ballpark was built in 1954 and named in memory of Roy M. “Legs” Hawley. Bill is the only child of Legs and Helen Hawley.
So he’s coming to throw out the ceremonial first pitch when West Virginia University’s baseball team ends a three-game Big 12 conference weekend series against 11th ranked Texas (according to USA Today’s Coaches Poll) at 1 p.m. Sunday.
As of now, Hawley Field is to be discarded as far as WVU playing anymore games there after Sunday. The Mountaineers expect to begin playing at a newly constructed ballpark off campus next to the University City Mall of I-79.
WVU and Texas will open this series locally at 6 p.m. on Friday, with the second contest set for 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Roy M. Hawley was a WVU graduate who came up from Bluefield and became an outstanding basketball and baseball player as a Mountaineer in the 1920s.
After serving as athletic director at Marshall, he returned to his alma mater to serve a short stint as alumni secretary. Then he replaced Harry Stansbury as WVU athletic director in 1938. He handled that position admirably until March 20, 1954.
“My father died of a heart attack while hospitalized in Pittsburgh two days before my 14th birthday," Bill recalled sadly. Mr. Hawley was only 53 and still serving as one of West Virginia’s most noted college athletic directors.
It was he who got the University into its first ever organized all-sports organization, the Southern Conference in 1950.
Hawley, with his well-established New York City media and Madison Square Garden friendships, also was responsible for getting WVU into the 1942 National Invitational Basketball Tournament, which the last-seeded Mountaineers won with R.A. “Dyke” Raese as coach.
Son Bill, who’s now 74, was an all-state quarterback at Masontown High School in 1956 and graduated in 1958.
He went on to WVU and played one year of baseball before graduating.
Hawley then turned to a coaching career. He was at University High School from 1963-73. His roles varied as head coach in basketball, assistant in football, one year in baseball, and took a team in baseball one year to the state tournament.
In 1973, Bill returned to Masontown (then called Valley High) to serve as athletic director and teacher there. In addition, he was head basketball and baseball mentor, assistant in football and started a golf program for VHS.
After consolidation, Hawley switched to Preston High in Kingwood and finished there as a teacher. He remained there until he retired in 1995.
Bill and wife Victoria have been married 24 years. She has two children from a previous marriage and he has one.
There are nine grandchildren.
The couple has lived in Wilmington, N.C., for 17 years. He remains active in a gift card business there.
“I am very honored that WVU coach Randy Mazey and (baseball publicist) Grant Dovey were down here and later invited me to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Sunday,” Hawley said. “Originally, all I wanted was a piece of memorabilia of Hawley Field.”
Obviously, that will mean really something he’ll cherish forever.
West Virginia, 24-16 overall, takes a six-game winning streak into today’s rescheduled game at Charleston against old-rival Marshall.
The non-conference game starts at 6 p.m.
After the three-game series against Texas (32-10), the Mountaineers will wind up the season against Virginia Tech on Tuesday, May 6, in Princeton.