Reflections remembers a young Sumter Junior High School sixth-grade student who won the 1949 State Championship in marbles. Johnny Griffin won the crown by defeating four opponents in the state tournament held in Winnsboro. Information and photos …
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Reflections remembers a young Sumter Junior High School sixth-grade student who won the 1949 State Championship in marbles. Johnny Griffin won the crown by defeating four opponents in the state tournament held in Winnsboro. Information and photos used to prepare this article were found in The Sumter Item archives.
The Sumter Daily Item announced that Marvin Burress was declared the champion seventh-grade "mibster" (a marble player) in the first V.F.W. City Recreation Department marbles tournament held at the Washington, Hampton and Central elementary school grounds. Burress, after winning his city championship, would represent Sumter in the state finals held in Winnsboro. Bobbie Kolb, who finished second to Burress, placed second in the state followed closely by Thad Ward, who took third spot. Many of the competitors in the 1948 tournament would compete again for the city championship in 1949 with Johnny Griffin winning out among the large number of highly talented Sumter mibsters.
The city tournament was again sponsored by the Sumter County V.F.W. Post 3034, and the winner would represent Sumter in the state competition. "Woody Baird and Bobby DeBerry, representing Sumter in the nine-and-under age group, placed third and fourth, respectively, in the state tournament for younger boys." "Griffin won the state championship on Saturday the hard way. He defeated the two favorite players as well as two other players. In his first match, he downed left-handed Bobby Hilton of Charleston, the previous year's state runner-up, 2-1. In his second match, he came up against Huston Vincent of Chester, who had been crowned state champion for the last two years." It was an exciting match won by Griffin 2-1. Griffin would later win against Buddy Graham of Columbia 2-0 in the semi-finals. His most difficult match came against Phillips of Chester; the score of this match was one-all in games and six-six in marbles in the play-off game. This was before Griffin knocked out the deciding marble to win the 1949 South Carolina Marble Shooting Championship.
Griffin, by virtue of winning the 1949 City Marbles Championship, was eligible to defend his city championship in 1950 as he was now a seventh-grader. The tournament would again be hosted by the City Recreational Department and V.F.W. Post 3034. The 1950 tournament winner was Buddy Whisnant, city champion, followed by Frank Bryan, second place; Billy Weaver, third place; Anthony Pate, champion for boys nine years old and under; Wayne Morris, runner-up in this class; and Timothy Gaymon, third-place winner. Whisnant, Bryan, Pate and Morris would represent Sumter in the State Marbles Tournament held in Sumter at Memorial Park.
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