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Remembering Al… Al King left his mark on many over the years

BY CY PETERS

A giant of a man was born in the mountains of North Carolina in height and heart.

Growing up as a boy in middle school, Al King was the tallest in his class. He would graduate from Cranberry High School in 1950.

His senior year Cranberry made their way to the State Championship game in basketball where they lost by only one point.

King received offers to attend North Carolina State, Elon, and Tennessee Wesleyan colleges. He did attend Wesleyan in 1951 when he decided to quit and start playing for the Plexies, a traveling team from Oak Ridge.

He went on to Washington, D.C., and played for the F.B.I. King then traveled to Jacksonville, Florida, and played basketball with the Great Southern Trucking Company before entering the U.S. Army.

After serving his country, King left the Army and settled in Michigan. He went to work at Pontiac Motors where he played on the UAW-C10 team.

King married former Cloudland basketball superstar Margaret Winters. They raised five children, losing one of them in an auto accident.

King was the boy’s mentor teaching them his basketball and baseball skills. He was coach to Chris and Terry from Peewee through Babe Ruth baseball.

He took one of the best positions he ever worked when he accepted the job at the Elizabethton/Carter County Boys Club. The name was changed in 1989 to the Elizabethton Boys and Girls Club.

“This was the one job I loved with all my heart” stated King in an early interview.

He was able to teach love and respect to all the kids.

“I never turned anyone away, regardless of their status,” King said. “One season we had 78 basketball teams, 28 football teams, and 18 baseball teams – over 1700 members at one time.

“This was when we had Johnson County members before the youth clubs began.”

Short on money and short on help, King had to schedule all the games for all the teams.

“What a job!” King said. “I enjoyed it – a lot of work but it was for the kids.”

King kept the scorebooks and announced the players and play-by-play at the National and American Little league baseball fields.

He worked closely with any kid that wanted to learn any sport.

King was good friends with 7’4 Tommy Burleson who played at the same high school King attended.

He also attended many Elizabethton Twin games and was a huge supporter.

King passed away this week and will be greatly missed by all his former players.