The Times West Virginian

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Bob Herzel

December 20, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. McKown among most-respected administrators in field

MORGANTOWN — A handsome young man, who had earned All-State honors twice as a football halfback at Wayne County High School, was West Virginia University’s starting center fielder on its baseball team in 1953-54-55-56.

Dr. Charles H. McKown Jr. now remains active as one of the Mountain State’s most noted and most highly respected administrators in the medical science field.

He is based in Huntington, where he remains active as vice president of health sciences at Marshall University. It’s a position Dr. McKown also held when serving as the first dean of the Marshall School of Medicine.

His parents were Charles H. and Mary Sinclair McKown. While Charles was named Jr, his father became known throughout West Virginia as “Jackie,” as a well-known football and basketball referee.

The elder McKown also was an athlete. He played football, basketball and baseball at Marshall College.

He is in the MU athletic Hall of Fame.

Dr. McKown, who played baseball only by choice at WVU, was honored about three years ago as a charter member of the new North-South Football Game Hall of Fame in Charleston.

He had played in a truly select field of talent in the 1952 N-S game and helped the South to an exciting 20-19 win against the North.

McKown recalled that Herb Royer, Logan High’s head coach then, brought along his undergraduate QB Alex Szuch, to serve as team manager.

Then eventual WVU standouts Bruce Bosley, Bob Moss and Gary Bunn also played for the South. And Gary Bunn, an end, caught a pass for the game-winning extra point (today that counts as two points).

The North squad included such greats as Sam Huff, Freddie Wyant, Bill Underdonk and other future Mountaineer standouts.

“I was the game’s leading ground-gainer,” the good doctor recalled. “I had a long touchdown run, and I even did some punting, and unfortunately Underdonk blocked one of my punts.”

Besides McKown, the first six North-South Hall of Fame selections included Wyant, Walter Easley, Robert Alexander, Huff and Mike Barber.

As a Mountaineer outfielder for coach Steve Harrick, McKown posted impressive statistics for his career. He played 76 games, finished with a batting average of .298 (.368 as a junior and .388 as a sophomore), 362 at-bats, 68 runs, 78 hits, 5 doubles, 5 triples, and 2 home runs.

He also added 31 runs batted in and 67 stolen bases to his list of career totals.

The 1955 team captured the Southern Conference championship and barely lost to Wake Forest in a three-game playoff series for the trip to the College World Series at Omaha, Neb.

Wake Forest went on to win the national title.

McKown was a first-team all-SC selection in 1954 and made the all-conference second team in 1955 (NCAA interference hampered McKown and other senior athletes in 1956. But that’s another story).

He received his bachelor’s degree in pre-med in 1956. Then he took graduate studies at WVU’s two-year medical school, before going on to the Medical College of Virginia to complete two more years for his doctor’s degree.

McKown then had a year and a half of post-graduate training in 1961. Dr. McKown was drafted into the Army Medical Corp as a captain.

His first assignment was in San Antonio, Texas.

“I served in the Army for a couple of years at the base hospital,” he recalled. “Then, I spent nine months at Walter Reed Hospital, before moving to the National Institute of Health for three and a half years.”

Dr. McKown called that “the greatest, best research institution on the planet.” It’s located in Bethesda, Md.

From there, he returned to Huntington in the fall of 1967.

In closing the interview, Dr. McKown said he could not be where he is now without the wonderful associates with whom he worked over the years.

He’s not only grateful for those in the medical profession, but also those teammates in WVU baseball and high school football.

For him, it obviously has been a highly successful and enjoyable run.

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