2020 EASTON HOF CLASS

This year’s Easton High Hall of Fame class included, from left, Joe “Buck” Miller, Nicole Foster Lewis, Dr. David Hill, Andre Gibson, Gerald Robinson, Chris Blue and Lee Wildasin. Dr. Richard Milbourne is not pictured.

EASTON — Dr. David Hill was working on a patient in his dentist office one spring afternoon in 1974, when his front-desk assistant told him a student from Easton High School was there, asking for a couple minutes of his time.

“I said, ‘Sure. Why don’t you just bring him back,’” Hill said 46 years later. “It’s really a moment in time for me because I never forgot it. This young man comes back, Andre Gibson, and he looked me right in the eye. He was not cocky. He was very mature for a high school student. I was really taken by it. I said, ‘Whoever this kid is is a winner.’ Because he looked me in the eye and said, ‘I just want you to know I just broke your (school broad-jump) record.’ That was really great.”

Hill recalled that story Saturday, Sept. 26, when he, Gibson, Chris Blue, Nicole Foster Lewis, Dr. Richard Milbourne, Joe “Buck” Miller, Gerald Robinson and Lee Wildasin became the second class inducted into the Easton High Athletic Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Easton Elks Club.

A 1960 graduate, Hill was a four-sport athlete at Easton. He played left wing in soccer, and was point guard on the 1960 basketball team that reached the state finals, leading the Warriors in steals and assists. In the spring he played center field for the baseball team, but also competed in track and field, where he may have left his biggest mark.

On April 13, 1960 at Easton’s home track — which is now Idlewild Park — Hill ran the 100-yard dash in 9.8 seconds flat that was a school record that stood for 17 years — and was also reportedly a state record. That school record was eclipsed in 1977 by Robert Fludd, who clocked a time of 9.75 seconds.

Hill, who was presented at Saturday’s ceremony by his son, Chad, broke the school record in the broad jump (long jump) with a leap of 20 feet his sophomore year. He continued stretching that record, soaring 20-11 his senior year for a school standard that stood for 14 years until Gibson surpassed it his senior year.

“That was the hard part,” Hill told Saturday’s crowd of Gibson breaking his record. “He didn’t just break it. Like Robert Fludd just barely nipped me on the 100-yard dash. I think he (Gibson) broke it by like a foot or more. It was not even close.

“I always thought, ‘You know, I’ll catch up to him one of these days,’” Hill said of Gibson. “He’ll be in Easton and we’ll go to lunch and we can catch up on things. I would just really like to get to know him. Little did I know that I would never catch up to him until a couple of months ago because of this (hall of fame) program. Chad found out where he was and I had a great phone call with Andre. And it was really a special thing for me.”

Gibson is considered among the special athletes in school history, playing football and basketball, and running track

He was a three-year letterman in football, playing tailback and defensive back. He rushed for 1,160 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior, and ran for 1,017 yards and 15 touchdowns his senior year. He was a two-time all-Bayside Conference pick and played in the first Maryland All-Star game. His junior year against North Caroline, he set a school single-game record for rushing with 241 yards — a mark that has since been broken.

Gibson signed a scholarship to play football at Virginia Military Institute and enjoyed an outstanding collegiate career, earning induction into VMI’s Hall of Fame in 1989.

Gibson was the starting point guard for Easton’s basketball team, leading the team in steals and assists his senior year.

But he really wanted to play baseball.

“When I was growing up I wanted to be a baseball player,” Gibson said. “And the guy I wanted to emulate was the first baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, Boog Powell. Why I wanted to be a first baseman, I had no idea.”

But Gibson gave up the idea of playing baseball.

“Marty Chance, he threw me three curveballs in a row and I jumped out of the batter’s box three straight times, and it was three straight strikes,” Gibson said with a grin. “So I want to thank Marty because baseball and track were at the same time of the year. Because I couldn’t do baseball I started track. Hence, I learned how to broad jump.”

Gibson excelled in track and field, setting a school record in the triple jump (44-3¾) during a runner-up finish at the 1974 Class B (now AA) state championships. At that same meet, Gibson ran a leg on Easton’s 880-yard relay that won the state title in 1:32, and leaped to a state title in the long jump with a school-record 22-8½.

A 1994 graduate, Blue starred in baseball and football.

He twice was selected first-team All-Mid-Shore in baseball, earning player-of-the-year honors his senior year when he helped lead the Warriors to the Class 1A state title. A shortstop and pitcher, Blue was named MVP of the annual Bayside Senior All-Star game, played in the Crown All-Star game at Camden Yards, and was selected to the Team Maryland squad that played in the Sun Belt Classic in Oklahoma. He was named first-team all-state his senior year, when he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles, but instead went on to play four years at the University of Maryland.

“As a kid when I was growing up I idolized you man,” said Matt Blue, who presented his older brother at the induction. “One funny story that kind of sticks out in my mind, Chris and I were just in the backyard and he’s teaching me how to field a ground ball. He rolls it to me a couple of times and I do it wrong. He (rolls) it to me again and he kind of stops and like busts out laughing. And I’m like, ‘What, what, what?’ He was like, ‘Dude, ducks don’t play baseball.’ I guess when he was rolling me the ball I was fielding it like (hunched over with his feet pointed out, waddling toward the ball) real un-athletic and stuff. But he was patient with me and taught me the correct fundamentals, that I still coach and teach students today. I actually still use that term on others about ducks don’t really play baseball.”

Chris Blue also played football really well. The starting quarterback and a heavy-hitting safety his junior and senior years, Easton went 20-4 over the 1992 and ‘93 seasons — a two-year mark that has gone unmatched since in program history. He was a two-time first-team All-Mid-Shore pick at quarterback and was player of the year as a senior. He was a first-team all-state selection his senior year, was named first team All-Mason Dixon team twice, and represented Maryland in the Chesapeake Classic (showcasing Maryland and Virginia seniors).

“I had a lot of opportunities that most kids probably wouldn’t have playing at the next level,” Chris Blue said. “I’m pretty humble about it. It was a very unique experience for me.”

Easton experienced success in a number of sports during Blue’s four years. One of the most successful programs was the girls’ basketball team, which won back-to-back state championships in 1992 and ‘93, and included Wildasin.

“I think my favorite team was our basketball team, not just because we won two state championships, but because we truly came together as a unit,” Wildasin said of the teams led by Kelley Gibson, a member of last year’s inaugural hall-of-fame class. “Few of us had grown up playing together in youth leagues as we had in field hockey or softball. Our team was unique. We came from different backgrounds, we even had two foreign-exchange students. But we came together as one, both on and off the court, and we had a lot of fun in doing so.”

Wildasin earned All-Mid-Shore honors three times in basketball, and totaled 16 double-doubles in 17 games her senior season.

The 1995 graduate also was a field hockey and softball standout.

A two-time captain and four-year starter at catcher, she earned first-team All-Mid-Shore honors as a designated hitter her freshman year, then was first-team All-Mid-Shore catcher three consecutive years.

She was called up to the varsity in field hockey late in her freshman year, and developed into a defensive mainstay the following three seasons, when Easton went 36-8-1. Wildasin was a two-year captain, earned All-Mid-Shore honors three times, and was All-Mid-Shore Co-Player of the Year as a senior. She was also was a three-time all-state band selection, going on to the University of Maryland, where she was a member of the marching and pep bands, as well as the symphonic wind ensemble.

“I have not had the pleasure of coaching her because I coached against her,” said former St. Michaels head field hockey coach Debbie McQuaid, who presented Wildasin. “I did not win. I could not get past her. She was on the defense and never had an answer for her. She played for (former Easton head field hockey coach) Marty Milbrada and she was just a phenomenal athlete.”

The same could be said of Foster Lewis when she pitched for Easton’s softball team.

“I started playing softball when I was five,” Foster Lewis said. “But my story really began when I was eight and I saw a girl windmill pitch for the very first time. I was fascinated. Up to that point I was uninspired and wanted to quit. But that day I told my mom, ‘If I could learn to pitch like that then I would keep playing.’ So my Mom (Andy Foster) talked to the girl’s mom, found out who her pitching coach was and signed me up for pitching lessons.

“My dad (Donnie) took me to my first lesson and to his dismay the entire night I rolled the ball to him,” Foster Lewis continued. “I couldn’t throw it in the air. When we got home he told my mom he wasn’t going with me anymore until I got better. So for the next four years my mom went with me to my lessons and caught me all the time. But by the time I was 12, I was throwing a little bit too hard for her and it was time for my dad to start catching me. In short, my dad was not my mom. He didn’t just catch me. He had expectations for me. I had to hit my spots.”

Lewis Foster did hit her spots, starting with a 19-0 freshman season that ended with a state championship in 2002. Two years later, she went 18-0 for a team that finished 23-0 and won another state championship.

“Wherever you put the mitt she could hit it,” said former softball assistant coach Jay Cappa, who presented Lewis Foster. “That would become her biggest asset of a hall-of-fame career.”

By the time she graduated in 2005, Lewis Foster had left one of the more impressive resumes in the softball program’s history, including the record for career wins at 61-5. She finished with a career earned-run average of 0.63 (0.44 postseason), and notched 547 career strikeouts (133 in the playoffs) over 408 innings.

She was selected the All-Mid-Shore Player of the Year in 2002 and ‘04, was All-Mid-Shore all four years, and in 2005 was the first player from Easton selected to play in the state senior all-star game, earning the win. She also played three years of volleyball.

Frank Robinson was part of last year’s inaugural class, with his younger brother, Gerald, accepting on his behalf. Gerald was in attendance again this year, but as the recipient of his own induction.

“Total excitement,” Gerald Robinson said. “My brother was my idol. He was a great athlete and a great person. So to be able to follow him is such an honor. To accept his award (last year) and now I’m being inducted ... Total excitement.”

Gerald Robinson started at tight end on the football team his junior season, then earned all-conference honors as a running back as a senior. He was also a standout catcher in baseball, lettering three times, and while at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but never played. Robinson hired an agent and thought he was blackballed by the club because of that decision.

But before graduating from Easton, Gerald Robinson made history by becoming the school’s first state wrestling champion.

“I have a (older) brother, Craig, who was also an outstanding athlete,” Gerald Robinson said. “He was a wrestler. I just wanted to play basketball just like any other kid wanted to do. I never even thought about wrestling. But he would always come home and use his moves on me. And his senior year he got clipped (playing football) and tore two ligaments in his knee. So basically I dedicated my state championship to Craig. He was the one who started me off in wrestling He probably would have been the first state champ but he got injured unfortunately.”

Gerald Robinson wrestled four years, and went 23-2 on the mat his senior year, which ended with a 9-2 victory over Harford’s Mike Hilker in the 167-pound final at the 1981 Class B state championships at Howard High School. He outscored his three state opponents, 22-6, over the two-day tournament.

Championships became a habit for Moton High’s boys’ basketball teams, which between 1953-67, won nine district titles and five state championships.

Miller and Milbourne were members of the teams that won back-to-back state championships in 1955, ‘56 and ‘57.

“Being selected to the hall of fame is something special; very special,” said Milbourne during a phone conversation. A 1957 graduate, Milbourne was unable to attend last Saturday’s ceremony.

Though he played little as a sophomore in 1955, Milbourne developed into a standout forward his junior and senior seasons at Moton.

“Richard kind of reminds me if you look at the game now, of (Denver Nuggets star Jamal) Murray,” said Dale Webb, who presented Milbourne. “He did 30 points a game with no problem at all.”

Milbourne went on to star at Bowie State and was drafted by the Baltimore Bullets, according to Webb, and was also offered a tryout with the Detroit Pistons. But Milbourne opted to pursue a career in education, working as a teacher in Annapolis for 13 years before moving on to Baltimore County, where he was an assistant superintendent of school and eventually earned his Ph.D.

Though no statistical information was available for Miller, Webb said Moton coaches Marion J. Waller and Roger Bryan thought so much of him, they brought him up to the varsity midway through his freshman season and named him co-captain.

“That tells you something about his character,” Webb said of Miller, who became a standout point guard. “When I was playing for coach Bryan, he used to always talk about Buck. ‘We got to be more like Buck because Buck had basketball intelligence.’ And I said, ‘What is that?’ And he said, ‘He knew how to play both defense and offense. He knew how to read it. And if I told him to do something he knew what to do. You guys have to learn this.’”

Miller, who is quick to tell you, ‘I’m a people person,” graduated from Moton in 1956, earned a senatorial scholarship to Morgan State, but after a year returned to Easton. He enrolled at Bowie State and earned a starting position on the basketball team along side Milbourne and another Moton graduate, John Roberts. He eventually went on to work for the department of corrections in Baltimore.

“It sort of surprises me because I just played the game because I loved it,” Miller said of his selection. “I didn’t necessarily want to be a high scorer. I just wanted to do all the things I could to contribute to the success of the team. And to please my coach. I had the pleasure of playing for two fine coaches who made lasting impressions on me as a person and as an athlete.”

Follow me on Twitter @Bill_Haufe. Email me at bhaufe@stardem.com

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