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Buddy Small and Henry Stradford

Posted: December 7, 2017 12:51 p.m.
Updated: December 8, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Hulan Alva “Buddy” Small and Henry Stradford Jr. both shunned the spotlight, but what they did in the field of athletics spoke volumes for the two Camden natives who passed away, a day removed from one another, last week.

Last Thursday, Small was taken at the age of 72. Less than 24 hours later, Stradford passed at the age of 86. Their departure leaves a void in both Camden’s athletic and daily lives.

Small, as many a Camden “old-timer” will tell you, was one of this community’s first and to this day, greatest multi-sport athletes. 

On the baseball diamond, Small’s mammoth home runs at the old American Legion Park on South Broad Street are still talked about by those who either saw the shots or, have heard the many stories which were passed on by those who took in the games from the stands. While his power at the plate drew raves, there are those who say he was an even better pitcher and, had it not been for arm issues, could have found his way into possibly being drafted.

In football, he was a member of the Bulldogs’ varsity squad in 1960 and 1961 in which he was a bruising fullback for Red Lynch’s squad. On the basketball hardwood, Small’s single-game point record stood for more than a decade until being broken by Harvin Council in the 1970s.

Small was an athletic prodigy, having played on the 1959 Pony League All-Star team from Camden which traveled to Pony League World Series in Washington, Pa. while finishing with a 2-2 record.

Following his graduation from Auburn, Small earned his law degree from the University School of Law. He then served two years as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Stradford was a trailblazer in the Camden sports world. Born in Camden in 1931, Coach Stradford, as he would be come to known, went on to play tackle and would graduate from Allen University in physical education before earning his masters degree in physical education from Indiana University.

In 1970, when Jackson High School was integrated into Camden High School, Stradford joined the Bulldogs as an assistant football coach under Red Lynch. But, it would be on the track where Stradford had his greatest coaching achievement.

In the spring of 1992, the Bulldogs qualified six athletes for the AAA boys’ state track and field championships at USC’s Weems Baskin Tack at the University of South Carolina. By mid-afternoon, Stradford had guided the program to the school’s first state track and field title by outscoring Hilton Head by a whopping 65 to 33.5 margin.

After the meet, Stradford shined the light on his young men. “With the (six) people we had,” he said, “we had to do a lot of things to bring us that many points. They knew what they had to do and they went out and got it done.”

Coach Stradford never lost touch with Camden High and its athletic program even after he retired. He was a staple in the north end zone of Zemp Stadium each Friday night home game, cheering on the Bulldogs while taking time out to meet and greet former students whom he coached and/or taught in his physical education classes.

While Small and Stradford each went about their business in their own quiet ways, it would be impossible for their achievements not to speak loudly on their behalf during their time with us.


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