Former PC football players gather to honor Cally Gault at 90

Dec 20 Written by  MONTE DUTTON

GREENVILLE -- For many of Cally Gault’s former Presbyterian College football players, Tuesday night was a time to look back fondly, not dwell on their alma mater’s impending de-emphasis of the sport.

PC has announced it is gradually eliminating football scholarships over the next three seasons, and it was a topic of private, sorrowful chitchat, but Coach Gault turns 90 on Friday, and the purpose of the gathering was to honor him. Most everyone there had a Cally story to tell. Almost every story was humorous.

Art Baker, who played with Gault at PC in the 1940s and went on to become head coach at Furman, The Citadel and East Carolina, spun a yarn about returning a kickoff against Clemson. After being knocked silly, Baker thought he was going blind until Gault informed him his helmet had been knocked backward on his head.

John Perry, who played for Gault and later became head coach while Gault was still athletics director, told about fishing trips at Murrells Inlet. When he played, Perry said, “The first two years I was here, Coach Gault called me ‘Larry’.”

One son-in-law, Stanley Gruber, told about the time Gault dumped 10 pounds of potatoes meant for barbecue hash into a pot of catfish stew. His other son-in-law, Clinton mayor Bob McLean, told stories of borrowing Gault’s boat to fish in local ponds. Wife Joy recalled, with a good-natured laugh, “Being a coach’s wife is always either heaven or hell.”

Like baseball great Yogi Berra, Gault was famous for his malapropisms. He grew tired of “90-yard drives stalling at the 20-yard line.” Angry at a player, Gault told him, “Go see your coach, and if you can’t find a coach, come to me.” Bruce Ollis, who went on to become a successful high school coach, said when he was a freshman at Presbyterian, “he couldn’t play dead in a cowboy movie.”

Gault told Laurens County Attorney Sandy Cruickshanks, once a placekicker and split end, he “had the most deceptive slow speed of anybody who ever played here.” Cruickshanks said Gault hated field goals, and once, after one of Cruickshanks’ three-pointers gave the Blue Hose a game-clinching 10-0 lead over Wofford, when he got back to the sideline, Gault said, “Wofford could’ve blocked that field goal, run it back for a touchdown, and we would’ve lost, 8-7. We’re not kicking any more field goals.”

Meanwhile, during every whimsical recollection, Calhoun Folk Gault roared with laughter, none more so than when a player recalled making three F’s and a D in his first semester at PC. The D was in biology. Gault told him, “Son, your problem is you’re spending all your time on biology.”

Lots of heroes emerged while Gault was coaching the Blue Hose for 22 seasons (1963-84) to a record of 127 wins, 101 losses and seven ties. An inordinate number of ex-coaches and players were on hand. Some recalled his high school career in North Augusta, where his teams once won 42 games in a row. Gault is a member of at least seven halls of fame.

One player said Gault was the reason he got a college degree and the reason he sent four sons to PC. It was an evening of affection for a man who played major roles in the athletic and career success of thousands.

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 December 2017 17:47