LOVE & BASEBALL
Bo Jackson doesn’t know N.C. Central coach LeVelle Moton, does he?
Moton was a terrific scorer at NCCU from 1992-1996, and the nation this past season began understanding what kind of coach he is when the Eagles were soaring to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
And there’s baseball.
“Baseball was my first love,” Moton said Thursday after throwing the ceremonial first pitch before the Durham Bulls beat the Norfolk Tides at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Some of Moton’s players and assistant coaches joined him at the DBAP. The Bulls honored the Eagles for what they accomplished last season.
When Moton is coaching basketball, his style is kinetic. He’s gyrating, arms all over the place.
On the pitcher’s mound at the DBAP, Moton was understated. There was no windup or high kick or anything like that. He just toed the rubber and released the ball, although unsure about what pitch he’d throw.
“I was stuck between my Luis Tiant and my Nolan Ryan. I just didn’t know,” Moton said, referencing a couple of former big-league pitchers. “So I just went ahead and threw it straight down the pipe.”
“I was a lot better baseball player than I was a basketball player,” Moton said shortly after leaving the mound. “I didn’t feel any jitters. I felt right at home, honestly, to tell you the truth.
“It’s kind of like riding a bike, man. I did it every day. I put a lot of time into that sport, man. If it wasn’t for girls liking basketball players, I probably would have (kept) playing that sport. But the peer pressure gets to you in high school.”
The publicity for NCCU that has followed the Eagles’ run to the Big Dance has been great for the school, Moton said. Folks unfamiliar with NCCU now know what the acronym stands for, he said.
“When it comes to basketball in Durham, it’s pretty much been dominated by one team historically,” Moton said. “So now people understand (there are) two basketball teams here.”
During NCCU’s practice the day before the Eagles lost to Iowa State in the NCAA Tournament, Moton was shooting 3-pointers like they were free throws.
He’s still got it.
Clayton resident Chris Jones said he, former Wake Forest University running back John Leach and Moton once played on the same flag-football team. Moton was the quarterback.
Moton said he could throw the football, too.
Bo probably didn’t know that, either.
John McCann is @johntmccann on Twitter. You may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.