Bobby Stewart: Exuding Raider green and gold

Scotland County resident uses amputation as new way to root for Richmond 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Rivalry week:
Wednesday at 3:45 p.m.: Carver at Rockingham Middle School – conference championship
Wednesday at 6 p.m.: Ninth Grade Academy at Scotland High School
Thursday at 7 p.m.: Richmond JV at Scotland High School
Friday at 7:30 p.m.: Scotland at Richmond at Raider Stadium

LAUREL HILL — From 1965 to 1967, Robert “Bobby” Stewart was a second string quarterback for the Rohanen High School Rebels.

“I was there,” Stewart sid, “when they needed me.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Bobby Stewart has used his prosthetic as another way to root for the Richmond Raiders.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Bobby Stewart has used his prosthetic as another way to root for the Richmond Raiders.

Stewart and his wife, Sandy, took that same approach while raising son Robby, who played center and guard for the RIchmond Senior High School Raiders from 1985 to 1987. And today, they continue that philosophy while watching grandson and RSHS junior Jeremiah Stewart play tight end, rotating between the junior varsity and varsity squads.

Some people might claim to bleed Raider green and gold. Bobby, though, no can accurately say the colors are a part of who he is after recently being outfitted with a customized prosthetic that bears the Raiders colors.

Sandy, who turned 65 earlier this week, is a former basketball standout for the Rebels — a four-time all-conference selection who was one-half of the “Dynamic Duo,” along with Betty Upton. Bobby, who turns 67 on Thursday, noted he and Sandy lived in Richmond County all their lives up until 10 years ago. They now live amongst a treasure trover of pine trees 3.6 miles from the Richmond County line. The couple, married for 46 years, has a Scotland County ZIP code but, Sandy said, “our hearts are still in Rockingham.”

Bobby said preferred baseball over football and was one heckuva pitcher in his day. The Rebels faced the Hamlet Red Rams to open the 1964 season. The coach handed Stewart the ball shortly before game time.

The last-minute start was a success.

“I pitched a one-hitter,” Stewart proudly recalled.

In another game, Stewart remembered striking out five batters in a single inning. The catcher was having trouble keeping the ball in front of him, which allowed to runners to reach base on dropped third strikes. That same game, Stewart said he threw the ball so hard it broke the catcher’s hand. Ask Butch Long, Stewart said. He’ll remember.

Stewart later tried out for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I was offered a chance to play,” he said at a time when he was married with a young child. “There was no guarantee back then. I could have made it. I chose not to.”

“Those,” Stewart said, “were the glory years.”

Flash forward some 20 years, and son Robby was playing on the offensive line for the Raiders. His favorite place to sit, still today, is the upper row of the Boosters Club.

“I never miss a game that my son played, in all the years,” Stewart said.

Bobby Stewart and his wife, Sandy, are die-hard Richmond Raider fans despite living a few miles on the wrong side of the Scotland County line.

Bobby Stewart and his wife, Sandy, are die-hard Richmond Raider fans despite living a few miles on the wrong side of the Scotland County line.

Even today, “That’s our favorite seat. We try to get there early to get that seat, so Jeremiah knows where we’re at.”

Stewart said Robby was part of “The Game” against Garner in 1987.

From HighSchoolOT.com:

On Nov. 20, Garner traveled south to Richmond County to take on the Raiders. Richmond led 24-21 in the fourth quarter. The Raiders defense was called for a pass interference, and on the next play Garner wide receiver Robert Hinton caught the game winning touchdown in the right corner of the end zone, lifting the Trojans to a 28-24 win.

“If you ask anyone who was at that game,” Stewart said. “The call was bad.”

It was Robby’s last football game as a player. He’s now joined father Bobby in the stands as the No. 1 cheer section for Jeremiah, who wears No. 86 when playing for the JV team and No. 87 for varsity.

* * * 

Over the years, Bobby’s health has declined. He developed diabetes. Two years ago, it took his left leg. Rather than quibble about it, he recently decided to make a fashion statement. Call it a designer leg.

He told Troy Decker, of Sanhills Orthotics and Prosthetics in Pinehurst, that he wanted a leg that let everyone know he was a Richmond Raider fan. Decker came by the house and took some measurements. Decker then went to Richmond Senior High School and, with the help of school officials, acquired a spare jersey. Decker cut. He sewed.

Last week, Decker delivered the fruit of his labor to Stewart.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Stewart said. “I just think it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

He wore the new leg to the Pinecrest game last Thursday and showed it to a few people, including Cathy Hoggard, wife of Raiders football coach Paul Hoggard.

“She just loved it,” Stewart said.

Stewart is assisted by several family members in getting to each game, home and away: Sandy, son Robby and his wife, Vickie, and Jeremiah and granddaughter Kennedi all help out, leaving Stewart needing nothing but the best seat available.

* * *

The Raiders JV squad is undefeated heading into Thursday’s game at Scotland High School. Stewart is hopeful he’ll be able to attend — it’s his birthday, after all — but the decision to go might not be his. Depending on whether Bobby or Sandy tell the story, it’s iffy.

Stewart is scheduled to undergo Wednesday a heart catheterization, a test used to diagnose heart troubles. Bobby knows all about it — 14 stints and 10 catheterizations will give a man a feeling of familiarity on the subject. Sandy is hopeful. Bobby is adamant.

“I’m gonna be there,” Bobby said. “I’m going to be there Thursday night.”

It is, Stewart recognized, rivalry week. It’ll the second of three straight games against Scotland — Ninth Grade Academy at 6 p.m. Wednesday, JV at 7 p.m. Thursday and varsity at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Former Raiders coach Daryl Barnes, Stewart said, once held a preseason meeting with players and their parents in the high school cafeteria. Barnes won five state titles with the Raiders but understood what the public wanted from the coach of the only high school football team in the county: to beat Scotland.

“He said, ‘if you’re 9-0 — which would be a great season — but if you lost to Scotland, you would have a losing season,'” Stewart recalled.

And medical procedure pending, Stewart hopes to be on the sidelines to root for the Raiders at both games this week.

“I’m not laid back when it comes to that,” Stewart said. “I get excited.”

 

 

 

 

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  • Dale Denson

    One of the finest men I have ever know……Ole Stew was quiet a high school pitcher…and a dang pretty good softball pitcher…….I had the pleasure of coaching his son ….I will say that Momma might just have taken both of them back in the Dixie Bell Days….One of the finest families I have ever known…..I am proud to say I consider them to be friends of mine…Hey Stew , I’ll never forget our camping trip to the Azalea Festival in Wilmington…..Two days of pouring down rain with me and you and Little Stew and Little Watkins camping in that tent…My last camping trip EVER….Looking forward to seeing you at all of the RAIDER GAMES …..

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