In football, Tucker was a standout end on a Tiger team that posted the school’s first 10-0 regular season, which earned The Birmingham News’ Class 1A, District 3 state championship.
That success on the football field carried over for the Tigers in basketball. Led by Tucker’s scoring presence, the basketball team finished the season at 22-4. They earned the Cherokee County Invitational and county tournament titles, along with the Choccolocco Conference championship on their way to the state tournament.
The 1959-60 Tigers became the first team from Cherokee County to advance to a state basketball tournament.
Those accolades have now earned Tucker a spot in the Cherokee County Hall of Fame.
Tucker, along with former Sand Rock football standout Lance Mackey and former Cherokee County basketball standout Ronald Rooks, comprise the Class of 2012.
The trio will be formally inducted on Saturday at the Gadsden State-Cherokee community room at 6 p.m. Reservations can be made
through Wednesday by calling Tommy Moon at (256) 927-3577. Advance tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce or the Cherokee County Historical Museum.
Tucker calls being selected to the Cherokee County Hall of Fame “a tremendous honor.”
“I was shocked when I got the call,” Tucker said. “I’m very appreciative of it.”
Presenting Tucker into the Hall of Fame is his sister, June Myer. Myer was in the stands and in the bleachers during many of Tucker’s great athletic moments.
“It was just amazing how good he was,” Myer said. “It was just a thrill to watch him play. I’m very proud of Harry for receiving this honor.”
One memory both Myer and Tucker recall vividly during the Tigers’ undefeated football season was the Gaston game on Oct. 30, 1959. Tucker said Cedar Bluff coach L.D. Bruce hadn’t slept much during game week, worrying how the Tigers were going to stop a bigger and deeper Bulldog team.
Fueling the Tucker and the Tigers’ fire was when they arrived in the parking lot at Gaston. They were met by many of the Bulldog players and cheerleaders.
“It was raining that night and we pulled in down there and started getting our gear out of the trunk. They just laughed at us,” Tucker said. “We had a little team meeting warming up and we told everybody to leave it all on the field. We were playing this one for Coach Bruce, and when it was over it was 49-0. Needless to say, there wasn’t much laughing going on on their side. On defense, we held them to minus-18 yards.”
The Gaston game was one of seven shutouts posted by the Tigers that season. They only allowed 19 points all year.
As unyielding as the Tiger defense was, Cedar Bluff’s offense liked to play pinball. Featuring the Notre Dame box, the Tigers averaged 40 points per game. A large part of their offensive success was Tucker and his twin brother, Larry, who played at halfback. The duo was the Tigers’ top passing-receiving combo.
“It was hard to defend,” Tucker said. “You had so many options off that offense. Back then, we didn’t have films to trade and look at. The teams we played probably had never seen the Notre Dame box before, and that was to our advantage. We could do a lot of things off of that. I caught a lot of passes, and we had a good running game too.
“We didn’t have but 21 players, so we had to go both ways. A lot of them were eighth and ninth graders, but it was a real rewarding year and we truly enjoyed it.”
One of those younger players was Cherokee County Hall of Fame quarterback David Bedwell. Bedwell, a seventh grader at the time, said he learned a lot from Tucker and the Tiger upperclassmen.
“He was an inspiration for the youngsters coming along. That whole team was,” Bedwell said. ”They set goals that everybody wanted to live up to. After they went undefeated and won state, from then on anything less was not acceptable. They set the precedent for everybody.
“Harry was one of the first really great players from that time. He was one of those who made folks like me when I was coming along just starting to play a little quarterback and tailback. I could throw a football anywhere around him and he’d catch it. He’d catch anything within reach. If he put his hands on it, he caught it.”
Bedwell also recalled Tucker being a talent on the basketball court that season as well.
“He’d shoot the lights out,” Bedwell said. ”If they would have had 3-pointers at the time, there’s no telling how many records he would set. I remember in a tournament one time playing Emma Sansom sitting there watching him shoot well beyond 3-point range. I was just amazed at his shooting ability. He put them in the state playoffs. He was just a great athlete all the way around.”
Tucker said the Tigers’ success on the football field carried over to the basketball court.
“We had virtually the same players,” Tucker said. ”We were a small school and didn’t have that many athletes at that time, but we were real fortunate to have some good basketball players as well. I actually played center, but I was barely 6-foot tall. I had to play against some guys who were 6-7, 6-8. I was more or less a shooter. I didn’t play in the middle much. I played on the wings. I could get a good shot every once in a while.
“I was very fortunate to have a good crew around me, but they all looked to me to do most of the scoring.”
Tucker’s scoring presence served the Tigers well. They advanced to the district tournament, where they won five games to earn a berth in the state tournament at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Tucker topped all scorers with 123 points in the Tigers’ five district games and was voted the runner-up Most Valuable Player.
“The first game we played in the district tournament (against Sand Rock), I scored 43 points,” Tucker said. “At that time, it was a record. That was a big thrill for me and our team. We were seeded fifth in the district that year. Ranburne, which back then was a powerhouse in basketball, was 32-0, but Piedmont beat them in the first game, then we beat Piedmont later on. That was my biggest thrill in basketball, playing through the district tournament.”
Tucker now lives in Dallas, Ga., and is retired from the tire business. He said he doesn’t make it much to Cedar Bluff these days, but his memories from senior year high school are some of his most cherished.
“It was a real rewarding year,” he said. ”We truly enjoyed it.”