Dugger draws recognition from South Carolina HOF


  
  Usually when you think about fast-pitch softball, the thought of spring and ladies high school action comes to mind. But when you're talking about one of the greatest pioneers of the sport, then Richard "Jarfly" Dugger comes to mind.
  Men's fast-pitch softball became extinct from the area many years ago, but this didn't stop Dugger from pursuing his passion for the sport.
  Traveling out of state just to compete, Dugger enjoyed a long and illustrious career that lasted for nearly four decades.
  "I went on the road and I love this game, and I don't have anything against slow-pitch players, but it takes a special person to play fast-pitch," said Dugger. "I did it 37 years and had a great career, and I think the Lord for my good health and not having the injuries. I've met some great friends, and these softball players are like people of the Marine Core -- they're always brothers."
  Dugger finished his career in Shelby, N.C., where he spent his last six seasons, but it all started with him and a friend heading off to West Virginia.
  "When the teams failed here with lack of sponsor, me and Scotty Bunton went on the road as a pitcher-catcher combination and traveled all over," said Dugger. "We played with teams out of West Virginia, and a team out of Morganton (N.C.), and then ended my career in Shelby, N.C."
  Recently, Dugger was recognized at a special function for the South Carolina State Hall of Fame, which inducted several players.
  Although not being able to become an inductee because he isn't a South Carolina native, Dugger was rewarded by being recognized by a group of competitors in which he had faced.
  "I thought I was just going to be invited down and see some of my friends inducted into the South Carolina State Hall of Fame," Dugger said. "Well, they inducted them and the last one up was me. It was kind of a recognition honorary thing, because I can't be inducted, being out of state, but it was an honorary induction by the players you've played against that vote you in."
  Dugger has also been invited to play at the Hall of Fame game next year, which will reunite him with some of his once most fierce competitors.
  "I'm going to be playing in the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 23 next year, and all those guys remember Dave Anderson from Canton -- he was a world class pitcher who received the same award as I did two years ago," said Dugger. "He's 6-8 now and 70 years old, and we had some tough games, but all those guys remember him."
  Dugger's career ended in 1993, and since then he's been dedicating his time to instructing the local youth on how to throw fast-pitch softball.
  He has worked with several athletes representing a number of schools, but the most special gift he offers is there's no charge for his service.
  "I've got one girl who is going to college right now at Roan State (Danielle Williams), and I think I have furthered my career by working with these girls," Dugger said. "A lot of guys down there at the Hall of Fame are doing the same thing that I am, and I don't charge because I feel it's right. God gave us ability to go out here and be able to pitch softball, so we can teach these girls."
  His knowledge of the game has enhanced the ability and performance of several pitchers, so what he has done inside the community has been vital in making an impact.
  "It's a great thing for the area because since I've been working with pitchers and catchers" Dugger said. "I've seen the leagues and high schools pick up, but it's not really me. It's the girls themselves."
  What Dugger feels makes a successful player in the world of sports is not so much the coaching, but the support of the parents and attention they give.
  "I tell you the main thing these girls need to have is good parents, who are willing to follow them and back them and make them practice when they start," Dugger said. "Later on they'll want to throw and you'll see them down here at eight o'clock or for four hours after Sunday School or church on Sunday evenings. Then you know they really want it. f they don't want it, then I won't work with them, and I can tell. I don't want my time wasted or their time wasted time, but it basically comes down to one main thing, good parents."
  One of "Jarfly's" most supportive parents and beloved friend was the late Charles Robinson, who would take his daughter Jessica down on Sunday afternoon for training.
  "Jessica Robinson is a super girl and Charlie was probably as good of friend as I ever had," Dugger said. "We saw each other every Sunday afternoon during the winter, and on the weekends. He and Angie (Charlie's wife) were always great, and Jessica was lucky to of had Charlie in her life."
  Expect high school players to improve their talents in years to come as long as we have instructors and coaches in our community that are willing to help teach our youth on how to succeed.
  "Everybody needs to come out and support these girls , because I think we'll have some good teams around here," Dugger said. "Elizabethton has a great program going, and Cloudland's picking up on their program with Gary Keith coaching, and Ronnie Hicks at Unaka is going to have good teams year in and year out. Everybody is picking up, but I've got to say again it goes back to good parents."