This beautiful family of Joseph "Wadie" & Hazel Sparks of McComas, WV numbered 14 in size. The talent that emerged for the ball field and courts was evident to all who knew them. I remember growing up and watching all these young men advance their sport related talents. The students and faculty of McComas and Bramwell High School cheered them on to victory many times over the years. I know their parents are watching from above and smiling down upon what they were able to nurture and grow. Well done to this very talented family.
Growing up at McComas from an early
age we all learned to love sports.
photo of Wadie & Hazel provided by their son Rickey Sparks (2007)
The following article on Freddie Sparks was
supplied to this webmaster by Bibbi Dawson Sigmon. Bibbi was a
cheerleader at Bramwell High School and cheered several of these Sparks
brothers on to many a victory for our Bramwell High School Milliionaires
I originally started this page with the newspaper article on Fred then decided to expand more on information about his siblings - they were a very talented group of children. If anyone has more information on others in this family please email it to me. firstname.lastname@example.org
Princeton Times Friday, March 30, 2007 Section II 6
|'I've always loved children.
More than anything else,
I wanted to teach.'
-- Fred Sparks
you do your
By Lou Stoker
Bluefield - Born in the coal mining camp of McComas, Fred Sparks was one of 10 boys and 4 girls.
"My dad had his own basketball and baseball teams." Sparks remembered. "We played in the coal camp baseball leagues. We were all competitive. In family and in games. In a larger family, we learned to give and share."
His is the story of the Sparks family of McComas.
Brother Joe played third base. He was also good at basketball and played on the McComas High School team. The spring of his senior year, West Virginia University's basketball coach invited five seniors to Morgantown for the high school tournaments, Joe Sparks and Jerry West were two of them. All were offered full scholarships to the university. Jerry West accepted the offer. Joe Sparks did not. He was drafted out of high school to play baseball with the New York Giants, later the San Francisco Giants. His career in professional baseball took him to Chicabo, Kansas City, Cincinnati. Brother Bob signed with the Giants. He had played two years when an ankle injury benched him for good. Brother Don was a great left-handed pitcher but didn't go into pro sports. Brother Rickey was visited by a San Francisco Giants scout, but not signed.
Fred Sparks' story continues:
"In 1960, McComas students were sent to Bramwell High School. I can't say enough good things about my high school experience. My '65' basketball team made history by being first Bramwell team to ever go upstate. In 1965, I graduated from BHS and enrolled at Bluefield State College. I dropped out after 1 1/2 semesters. I was the first on in my family to go to college and it just about broke my dad's heart when I left school. But I decided to go to Detroit, where everybody said jobs were plentiful and I could make money. I did find work and I did make money, " Sparks said.
But , the move didn't last long, though. The lure of home called to Sparks. "I missed the mountains and go homesick, " he said. "After I came home, I married my high school sweetheart, Frances Lance. I give her the credit for any success I have had in life. She worked (teaching) and put me through college."
Sparks' sports legacy was destined to be as a coach, rather than a player. "My first coaching opportunity came while I was still at Bluefield State. The band director, David Richardson was coaching junior high basketball at Bramwell. He asked me to take his place so I did. The team included Ken Jones, Jay Barringer, Kim Murphy, " Sparks revealed. "After college graduation I started teaching at Bramwell. When Susie Guyton retires as girls' basketball coach, I took on the job. We had a great team with girls like Robin Perry, Karen Tabor, Sherri Baily and Selina Goins."
Soon, Sparks changed his coaching focus. "I went on from coaching the high school girls' team to the junior high boys' team. My seventh-graders were the boys who later won the 1988 A state championship..." he said. "They were great players and leaders in the game, in the classroom and in life. Chris Shoemaker was point guard for the 1987 team. He said Bill Piece (BHS '67) were the two best point guards I have ever seen."
During his years as a coach, Sparks said he was always emphatic that the score board didn't always tell the story of any game. "I always told my boys: 'Winning is not everything. If you do your best, you never lose. You have won, " he said.
While many of his players looked up to him, Sparks had his own mentors, men who shaped his life. "Outside of my parents, there is one man who influenced me the most in life. That was D. W. McCormick, the principal of Bramwell High School. He was like a father to me. Another role model was coach Chuck Lambert, " he said.
Although his career would eventually lead him out of Bramwell, Sparks said he always carried fond memories of the Home of the Millionaires and the families he met while working and living in the area.
"Bramwell kids were the easiest kids in the world to coach. Along with their parents, they did anything I asked them to. They were the most supportive group of parents and community. I was blessed with the opportunity to work with the people in Bramwell, " he said.
From Bramwell, Fred Sparks went to Princeton High School with Coach Robert Wray. He retired two years ago.
It was a labor of love for "Freddie" Sparks to teach and coach in Mercer County.
Freddie's wife Francis along with his brother Ricky taken from the Bramwell High School school album.
younger sistser Janie Sparks
Brother Buddy Sparks (front row) playing at BHS also Coach Lambert that Freddie speaks of in the article above as a mentor
Jim Arrington who also once lived at McComas supplied me with this old newspaper clipping. He is the pitcher mentioned in the article but look closely he said the Sparks listed playing for Bluefield is Joe Sparks also previously of McComas.
Joe Sparks moves on to Baseball's Minor and Major Leagues
below taken from this webmaster
Descendants of Joseph Wadie Sparks
Generation No. 1
1. JOSEPH WADIE2 SPARKS (ARVIL MITCHEL1) was born 1905 in Nc. He married HAZEL GERTRUDE BARLOW, daughter of JAMES BARLOW and CORA REED. She was born 06 May 1912 in McComas, WV, and died 22 Apr 2004 in Princeton, WV.
Notes for JOSEPH WADIE SPARKS:
Wadie Sparks was a son to my great aunt Phoebe Huffman and Arvil Sparks of McComas. Aunt Phoebe a sister to my grandfather Robert Huffman who raised me and my brother Mickey Spicer at McComas was a neighbor and frequent visitor to our home during the years I grew up at McComas. She had a very jolly disposition and loved babies. I remember her holding my 1st born on her knee and singing to her in 1965 at my grandparents house. I loved to listen to aunt Pheoby tell of how the family migrated from NC to WV - they had a wagon but walked most of the way and foraging for food. It was 1910 the family came to the coal fields of McComas looking for work. Many of the brothers and sisters from this family remained and worked at McComas and raised their families.
Notes for HAZEL GERTRUDE BARLOW:
Mrs. Hazel Gertrude Sparks
BLUEFIELD - Mrs. Hazel Gertrude Sparks, 91, of College Avenue, Bluefield, died early Thursday morning, April 22, 2004 at the Princeton Community Hospital.
Born May 16, 1912 at McComas, she was the daughter of the late James and Cora Lea Reed Barlow of McComas.
Mrs. Sparks was a devoted mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend to many. Her loved ones will miss her greatly, but knows she is in a better place.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband of 40 years, Joseph W. Sparks; two daughters, Evelyn Repass and Jean Dillo along with two sons, Donnie Sparks and an infant son.
Those left to cherish her memory, nine sons and two daughters and their spouses, Elmer and Opal Sparks of Matoaka, Sue Repass of Oceana, Joe and Mary Sparks of Phoenix, Ariz., Bob and Sharon Sparks of Newbern, Tenn., Carl and Joyce Sparks of North Myrtle Beach, S.C., Douglas and Pam Sparks of Abingdon, Va., Rickey and Maxine Sparks of Peterstown, Fred and Frances Sparks of Princeton, Stanley and Peggy Sparks of Falls Mills, Va., Janie Stanger of Bluefield, Dean and Annetta Sparks of Narrows, Va.; 38 grandchildren, 51 great grandchildren, 15 great great grandchildren; a host of nephews and nieces; and a great many friends.
On Saturday at 1 p.m. we will celebrate the life of Mrs. Sparks from the Burns Wornal Chapel of the Memorial Funeral Directory on the Athens Road in Princeton with the Rev. Ed Pettus officiating. Burial will follow in the Roselawn Memorial Gardens on the Courthouse Road in Princeton.
Pallbearers will be Johnny Sparks, Brad Sparks, Kevin Sparks, Chad Thompson, Michael Dillo, Gary Dillo, Daniel Jackson, Carl Sparks II, Patrick Sparks.
Honorary pallbearers will be Dr. A.R. Piracha, Garland 'Bo' Bowman, Joe Stanger, Bobby Allen, Jack Sarver.
Friends may visit with the family today from 6 until 8 p.m. at the funeral home.
The family of Mrs. Sparks is being served by the Memorial Funeral Directory and Cremation Center on the Athens Road in Princeton.
More About HAZEL GERTRUDE BARLOW:
Burial: 24 Apr 2004, Roselawn Memorial Gardens, Princeton, WV
Children of JOSEPH SPARKS and HAZEL BARLOW are:
2. i. ELMER LEE3 SPARKS, b. 09 Oct 1928, McComas, WV; d. 21 Dec 2005, Matoaka, WV.
ii. SUE SPARKS, m. UNKNOWN REPASS.
More About SUE SPARKS:
Residence: 2004, Oceana, WV
3. iii. JOE SPARKS.
4. iv. BOB SPARKS.
v. CARL SPARKS, m. JOYCE UNKNOWN.
More About CARL SPARKS:
Residence: 2004, North Myrtle Beach, NC
vi. DOUGLAS SPARKS, m. PAM UNKNOWN.
More About DOUGLAS SPARKS:
Residence: 2004, Abington, VA
vii. RICKY SPARKS, m. MAXINE UNKNOWN.
More About RICKY SPARKS:
Residence: 2004, Peterstown, WV
viii. FRED SPARKS, b. 1947; m. FRANCIS LANCE; b. 1947.
Notes for FRED SPARKS:
More About FRED SPARKS:
Residence: 2004, Princeton, WV
ix. STANLEY SPARKS, m. PEGGY UNKNOWN.
More About STANLEY SPARKS:
Residence: 2004, Falls Mills, WV
x. JANIE SPARKS, m. UNKNOWN STRANGER.
More About JANIE SPARKS:
Residence: 2004, Bluefield, WV
xi. DEAN SPARKS, m. ANETTA UNKNOWN.
More About DEAN SPARKS:
Residence: 2004, Narrows, VA
xii. EVELYN SPARKS, m. UNKNOWN REPASS.
xiii. JEAN SPARKS, m. UNKNOWN DILLO.
xiv. DONNIE SPARKS, d. Unknown.
xv. UNNAMED SPARKS.
Generation No. 2
2. ELMER LEE3 SPARKS (JOSEPH WADIE2, ARVIL MITCHEL1) was born 09 Oct 1928 in McComas, WV, and died 21 Dec 2005 in Matoaka, WV. He married OPAL SCOTT.
Notes for ELMER LEE SPARKS:
December 23, 2005 Bluefield Daily Telegraph Bluefield, WV
Elmer Lee Sparks
MATOAKA — Elmer Lee Sparks, 77, of Matoaka, died Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2005 at his home.
Born Oct. 9, 1928 at McComas, he was the son of the late Joseph Wattie Sparks and Hazel Barlow Sparks.
Mr. Sparks was a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He was a lifetime miner of 42 years and was a member of the U.M.W.A. He was a member of the Bluefield Moose Lodge and was an avid gardener. He was a loving father and grandfather and enjoyed spending time with his family.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by one brother, Donnie Sparks; and two sisters, Evelyn Repass and Jean Dillo.
Survivors include his wife, Opal Scott Sparks of the home; two sons, Johnnie Lee Sparks and wife Debbie of Princeton and Jeffrey W. Sparks and wife Laura of Bluefield; two daughters, Karen Thompson and husband Randy of Rock and Rhonda McKinney and husband Daniel of Bluewell; eight brothers, Joe Sparks and wife Mary of Phoenix, Ariz., Bob Sparks and wife Sharon of Newborn, Tenn., Carl Sparks and wife Joyce of North Myrtle Beach, S.C., Douglas Sparks and wife Pam of Abingdon, Va., Rickey Sparks and wife Maxine of Peterstown, Fred Sparks and wife Frances of Princeton, Stanley Sparks and wife Peggy of Falls Mills, Va., and Dean Sparks and wife Anetta of Narrows, Va.; two sisters, Sue Repass of Oceana and Janie Stanger of Bluefield; six grandchildren, Brad Sparks, Kevin Sparks, Jill Thompson, Chad Thompson, Richard McKinney and Corey McKinney; four great-grandchildren; two stepgreat-grandchildren and lifelong special friend, Bobby Allen of Amelia Island, Fla.
Funeral services will be conducted at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 24, 2005 at the Rowland H. Bailey Funeral Chapel of the Bailey-Kirk Funeral Home in Princeton with the Rev. Jerry Rice officiating. Interment will follow at Roselawn Memorial Gardens in Princeton.
Family will serve as pallbearers.
Friends may call today from 6-8 p.m. at the Bailey-Kirk Funeral Home. Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.bailey-kirk.com.
More About ELMER LEE SPARKS:
Residence: 2004, Matoaka, WV
Children of ELMER SPARKS and OPAL SCOTT are:
i. JOHNNIE LEE4 SPARKS, m. DEBBIE UNKNOWN.
ii. JEFFREY W. SPARKS, m. LAURA UNKNOWN.
5. iii. KAREN SPARKS.
6. iv. RHONDA SPARKS.
3. JOE3 SPARKS (JOSEPH WADIE2, ARVIL MITCHEL1) He married MARY UNKNOWN.
Notes for JOE SPARKS:
Major League Advance Scout
Joe Sparks begins his second season as the A's advance scout after serving as the hitting coach at Triple-A Sacramento in 2004. Prior to joining the A's organization in 2004, he spent eight seasons as the Major League advance and special assignment scout for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Sparks won nine championships and nine manager of the year awards during his 19-year minor league managerial career. He held managerial positions at Triple-A Toledo and Triple-A Iowa for five seasons, at Triple-A Omaha for four seasons and Triple-A Indianapolis for three years. He also served one-year managerial stints at Single-A Duluth, Single-A Appleton and Double-A Knoxville. Sparks also coached on the Major League level with the New York Yankees (1990), Montreal Expos (1989), Cincinnati Reds (1984) and Chicago White Sox (1979). He spent the majority of his 13-year playing career as a minor league infielder in the New York/San Francisco Giant farm systems.
Sparks currently resides in Phoenix, Ariz. with his wife, Mary. Their son, Greg, serves as the A's minor league roving hitting instructor.
More About JOE SPARKS:
Residence: 2004, Phoenix, AZ
Child of JOE SPARKS and MARY UNKNOWN is:
i. GREG4 SPARKS.
4. BOB3 SPARKS (JOSEPH WADIE2, ARVIL MITCHEL1) He married SHARON UNKNOWN.
More About BOB SPARKS:
Residence: 2004, Newburn, TN
Child of BOB SPARKS and SHARON UNKNOWN is:
i. LAURA4 SPARKS.
Generation No. 3
5. KAREN4 SPARKS (ELMER LEE3, JOSEPH WADIE2, ARVIL MITCHEL1) She married RANDY THOMPSON.
Children of KAREN SPARKS and RANDY THOMPSON are:
i. JILL5 THOMPSON.
ii. CHAD THOMPSON.
6. RHONDA4 SPARKS (ELMER LEE3, JOSEPH WADIE2, ARVIL MITCHEL1) She married DANIEL MCKINNEY.
Children of RHONDA SPARKS and DANIEL MCKINNEY are:
i. COREY5 MCKINNEY.
ii. RICHARD MCKINNEY.
(photo supplied by Billy Jean Short Cameresi wife of Joe Cameresi)
Minnie Sparks Cameresi, Joe Cameresi and Pheobe May Huffman Sparks taken at Pinnacle, McComas, WV
Minnie is the sister of Wadie Sparks - Joe is her son and my great aunt Phoebe is their mother
Descendants of John A. Huffman
This John Huffman family originally from Wilksboro, NC had many children who later lived and worked in the McComas area
Generation No. 1
1. JOHN A.15 HUFFMAN (DAVID SR.14, JOHN PETER13, JACOB JR.12, JACOB HANS SR.11 HOFFMAN, HANS GEORG10, PAULUS9, LUDWIG8, WILHELM7, ANDREAS6, FREDERICK5, FERDINAND4, JOHAN3, FREDERICK2, JOHAN1) was born 1855 in NC, and died 12 Feb 1924 in Bluefield Sanitarium, Bluefield, WV. He married MARY JANE BISHOP, daughter of JOHN BISHOP and ELIZABETH MINTON. She was born 1855 in NC, and died 23 Jun 1905 in Purlear, NC.
Children of JOHN HUFFMAN and MARY BISHOP are:
i. MARTHA ANN MAT16 HUFFMAN, b. 1873; m. PINKNEY BISHOP.
ii. JOHN FINLEY (BUD) HUFFMAN, b. 1875; m. BESSIE MAE NICHOLS.
iii. LIBBIE LOUISE HUFFMAN, b. 1877.
iv. WASHINGTON COLUMBUS HUFFMAN, b. 16 Dec 1879, Wilksboro, NC; d. 30 Sep 1939, Princeton, WV Diabetic Gangreen of foot; m. (1) MARGARITE HUFFMAN; m. (2) WILLIE K. LAMBERT, 1903; b. Nov 1889, WV.
More About WASHINGTON HUFFMAN and WILLIE LAMBERT:
v. WILLIAM OSCAR HUFFMAN, b. 1884, NC; m. (1) EDIE DULA; b. 1880, NC; m. (2) ALICE HAYES CHRUCH HUFFMAN.
vi. MINNIE RUTH HUFFMAN, b. 20 Sep 1884; d. 30 Nov 1945; m. DAVID LINDSEY HUFFMAN; d. 26 Feb 1918.
vii. LOUISE HUFFMAN, b. 1887.
viii. PHEOBE ROSE HUFFMAN, b. 09 Jul 1884, Purlear, Wilkes County, NC; d. 24 Jan 1967, Mercer County, WV; m. ARVIL MITCHEL SPARKS; b. 10 Jun 1875, North Carolina; d. Abt. 1920.
ix. ROBERT DAVID HUFFMAN, b. 25 Dec 1890, Wilkes County, NC; d. Jul 1972, Bluefield, WV; m. CORA MAE ("CARRIE") STEVENS, 1912; b. 08 Apr 1891, Tazewell, VA; d. Sep 1970, Bluefield, Mercer County WV.
More About ROBERT HUFFMAN and CORA STEVENS:
Marriage: 01 Jan 1912, Tazewell, VA or Bluefield WV
x. CHARLES HUFFMAN, b. Nov 1894; d. Bet. 1909 - 1915, At 19 years of age; m. MAYBELL PIGG; b. 1896; d. 1984. (Charles was killed in the mines at McComas, WV)
xi. WALTER PRITCHARD HUFFMAN, b. 15 Aug 1895, Pulear, Wilksborough, NC; d. 14 Jun 1946, Mercer Co, WV Bluefield Sanatarium Hospital; m. (1) MARTHA EDITH LAMBERT; b. Mar 1894, WV; m. (2) THELMA LUCKADO.
xii. WILEY WILLARD HUFFMAN, b. 10 Feb 1900, NC; d. Apr 1967, Princeton, WV; m. MAYME KING; b. Abt. 1894.