SUMTER SPORTS HALL OF FAME

Buddy Hodge: Late Edmunds High alum was multi-sport star

By DENNIS BRUNSON
dennis@theitem.com
Posted 11/15/17

When talking about the athletic career of Clifford Padgett "Buddy" Hodge it might be easier to list the things that he didn't do than the things that he did do.

Hodge was a standout athlete at Edmunds High School, played four sports in college, …

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SUMTER SPORTS HALL OF FAME

Buddy Hodge: Late Edmunds High alum was multi-sport star

Posted

When talking about the athletic career of Clifford Padgett "Buddy" Hodge it might be easier to list the things that he didn't do than the things that he did do.

Hodge was a standout athlete at Edmunds High School, played four sports in college, was a high school coach in both football and track and field, was a referee for both high school football and basketball as well as helping with the Sumter Post 15 American Legion baseball program.

Because of all of that, Hodge will be inducted into the Sumter Sports Hall of Fame posthumously on Thursday beginning at 6 p.m. at the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Sumter located at 630 South Sumter Street..

Hodge will be inducted along with Lis Ard, Connie Ballard, Garon Jackson, Stacy Martin, Brooks Shumake and Travis Yates.

Tickets are $25 a person for the event and can be purchased at the Boys & Girls Club. Its offices are open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call Jean Ford at (803) 775-5006.

After playing basketball and football for the first time at McLaurin Junior High School, Hodge lettered in both of the sports at Edmunds. He played guard in basketball and was an end in football.

Upon graduating from Edmunds in 1943, Hodge went on to Wheaton University in Wheaton, Illinois. He was a member of both the football and basketball teams, but only for one season. That's because he joined the U.S. Navy because of World War II.

While in the Navy from 1944 until his honorable discharge in '46, Hodge played for its traveling basketball team.

Upon his discharge, Hodge went back to college, this time at a school much closer to Sumter -- Newberry College. That's where Hodge was a letter winner in four sports. He played basketball and football for Newberry for three years and lettered in tennis and golf for two seasons.

He was a co-captain on the 1948 team, scoring the only touchdown in a 6-0 victory over arch rival Presbyterian.

After graduating from Newberry, Hodge got into coaching, serving as an assistant at Laurens High School for two years and for one year at Columbia.

Hodge, who passed away at the age of 91 in December of 2016, became the first football head coach and athletic director at Eau Claire High in Columbia in 1951. He served in that capacity through 1959 and developed the school's track and field program in 1956, leading it to a state title that season.

Hodge was also a referee for 30 years, calling games all throughout the state. The highlight of his refereeing career though came in 1955 when he called a game for the Harlem Globetrotters during a visit to Township Auditorium in Columbia.