Longtime Official Scorer Dies
- By John Antonik
- November 29, 2010 01:32 PM
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Al Babcock, a longtime official scorer for West Virginia University men’s basketball games and football’s press box steward, died last Thursday evening in Chapel Hill, N.C., according to his daughter Carol.
Babcock was a courtside fixture at Mountaineer basketball games for more than 60 years, getting his start in 1944 when the late Morgantown Post sports editor Tony Constantine got fed up trying to keep track of points, rebounds and assists while covering games for the local newspaper.
“Tony said, ‘I’d like to spend my time watching the game rather than keeping the scorebook. How would you like to take over?’” Babcock recalled in 2007.
That began a more than 60-year affiliation with West Virginia University athletics for Babcock, who scored his final basketball game for the Mountaineers in 2009. Babcock also served two brief stints as the school’s sports information director in the late 1940s when regular SID Forest Crane was called into the service.
Babcock, born in Boston and raised in Parkersburg, W.Va., graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1938 and was eventually steered to WVU by coaching great Ben Schwartzwalder, then coaching at Parkersburg High School.
“I practically lived over at his house,” Babcock once recalled. “He brought me over here to see a ballgame and to see (WVU athletic director) Legs Hawley. He told Legs I was a hard-working young man who needed some help going to school and Legs said, ‘Yeah, I think we can help him.’”
Eventually, Babcock moved to Fairmont where he worked for 34 years as a public relations specialist for Monongahela Power. In addition, he prominently served on the Marion County Commission, still occupying an office in the court house until to a few years ago.
In the meantime, Babcock continued to score men’s basketball games and work Mountaineer home football games – always offering his game-day services for free. When WVU began paying him he would simply endorse the check back to his alma mater.
Babcock also created two scholarship endowments to benefit student workers in the sports information department.
Al was preceded in death by his wife Frankie Lee. He was 90. The family is planning a January memorial service.