Dennis Carter was stunned. He found out more than a month ago he had been selected to the 2020 Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, a class formerly announced Monday morning.
Carter, sports anchor at WSET for nearly four decades, will be one of seven people inducted as part of the Hall’s 49th class April 25, in Virginia Beach.
“I was really shocked,” said Carter, who will step down from his post as ABC 13’s sports director when he signs off the air Dec. 31. “Very honored, humbled, but stunned. … I’m amazed to be in the company of this class. … Here I am just a media guy who enjoys watching and talking about those guys.”
Carter, who began his career at WSET in 1983 after a four-year stint at Danville radio station WBTM, will be inducted along with former Major League Baseball players Mike Cubbage and David Wright, track & field Olympian Lawrence Johnson, WAVY-TV Sports Director Bruce Rader, Norfolk State standout women’s basketball player Tracy Saunders and former New York Jets receiver Al Toon.
Cubbage, a Charlottesville native drafted out of Virginia in 1971 by the Washington Senators who enjoyed an eight-year major-league career, also once served as manager of the Lynchburg Mets during the 1984 and 1985 seasons.
Carter was still relatively new to the business back then.
“To go in to the same class is really special to me,” Carter said, “because always thought the world of Mike.”
Carter was covering a Lynchburg Hillcats game this past summer when he saw his old friend in the stands. Cubbage has served as a special assistant to the General Manager for the Washington Nationals for the last several years.
The last few months have been special for Carter. Since announcing his retirement in October, life has gone on in many of the same ways it has for the last 36 years: he’s covered sporting events, shot and edited video, anchored broadcasts and put in long hours in the community and in the office.
With one notable exception: an outpouring of support. Carter has witnessed it at high school games, for decades his favorite level of play to cover. He’s heard it from people who stop him out in public to chat.
At a football game between E.C. Glass and Heritage in November, for instance, Carter was presented with a jersey, half E.C. Glass royal blue and half Heritage orange. A large number 13 stretched across the front. It was a retirement gift, and the fans roared in approval.
At other schools, he’s received congratulations and well-wishes.
What started as simply an announcement about his retirement has turned into a farewell tour.
“It’s been incredible. It’s blown me away,” Carter said. “Just to have people come up and thank me for covering sports. People say I talked about their daughter or granddaughter or grandson. People have been so nice and made me feel special.”
The broadcaster has attended a couple Virginia Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in the past, most notably when former Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer was inducted in 2018.
But April 24 and 25 will be special. The ceremonies begin on a Friday, which is Carter’s birthday, and continue Saturday, when the induction ceremony is to be held.
By that time, he will be nearly four months into retirement. There is a chance, though, that Carter will still make news appearances. He has told WSET he’s willing to fill in occasionally if needed.
“It’s something I’ve been doing my entire life,” he added, “so for people to come up and wish me happy retirement has made me feel on top of the world.”
Ben Cates covers high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5527.