Call him by the name on his birth certificate, “James,” and no one would know him. Born with long, dark hair, he immediately became Blackie to the neighborhood folks in West Virginia.
His white hair makes a lie of his nickname today, but all the years have not changed Blackie Kincaid’s love affair with the University of South Carolina.
Maybe more than anyone, he appreciated the efforts of the USC department of athletics and Gamecock Club to bring former football players back to campus.
He gave up his annual trip to the Masters to attend a golf outing at Northwoods, football practice and dinner with past and present players.
“This getting together is so valuable,” said Kincaid who is 77 and spending his retirement years in Goldsboro, N.C.
Kincaid came to South Carolina from West Virginia in 1948 and played football for three seasons, then he and three teammates joined the Coast Guard. He returned to school and played his senior year in 1953. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and worked at USC, overseeing housing and later the student union. An opportunity to join former teammates in the transportation business led him to Charlotte and Goldsboro.
“I never thought I would leave the university,” he said. “Dr. (James) Penney thought I could become Dean of Men. I was looking forward to that, but they talked about the ‘big money’ I could make.”
He paused, then laughed, “I have regretted the move at times, but I did make more money.”
Kincaid remembers “playing a pretty good game” against West Virginia during his senior season.
“Pretty good” is much too modest. He had a sensational performance in the Gamecocks’ 20-14 upset of the nation’s No. 8 team.
He led the team in rushing with 63 yards on eight carries, returned a punt 53 yards to set up a touchdown and recovered a fumble to stop a West Virginia threat.
“They were all great . . . Clyde Bennett, (Johnny) Gramling, Blackie Kincaid, Leon Cunningham, all of them,” coach Rex Enright said after the game.
Then, as now, the Gamecocks’ rivalry with Clemson required no embellishment. Kincaid remembers the battle for another reason – tickets.
“That was the only game that would be a sellout, and that made our tickets more valuable,” he said. “We got two tickets each, and we could sell them. It was a big money-maker for the players.”
The price? Ten dollars for the pair. Like his hair, that has changed, too.