Photo: Fred Sington, Jr., passed away on Dec. 19 at the age of 82. (Sarrah Peters/Messenger)
By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
A hero comes in all shapes and sizes. To most people their hero, whether a sports figure or world leader, is larger than life.
On Tuesday, Dec. 19, the city of Gadsden lost one such hero in Fred Sington, Jr, who will long be remembered for his exploits on the football gridiron and his contributions to Gadsden and the youth of the city.
Fred Sington, Sr., probably was one of the greatest athletes that Wallace Wade coached during his tenure as University of Alabama head football coach. Sington played on the 1926 and 1927 Rose Bowl teams and went on to play professional baseball for the Washington Senators.
While playing for the Washington Senators, Sington and his wife had a child in 1935. Fred Sington Junior was born while the family lived in Washington, D.C. The Sington family moved back to Alabama in 1945.
Fred junior established himself as a top offensive lineman while playing at Birmingham’s Ramsay High School, from which he graduated in 1953. Sington was twice named all-state and made All-Southern and All-America as a senior. He played in the Alabama high school all-star game and the Wigwam Wiseman Prep All-American Game played in Memphis, Tenn., in 1952. He entered the University of Alabama in 1953 on scholarship.
The 1954 season saw Sington sidelined for the entire season following disc surgery. He returned in 1955 and played in seven games for the Crimson Tide. This was during the first season of Alabama coach J.B. “Ears” Whitworth. Sington volunteered for the U.S. Navy in 1956 and played navy football for the Bainbridge, Maryland Commodores. He was discharged in 1957 and returned to the University of Alabama, although he was ineligible to play during the 1957 season.
The Crimson Tide went 5-4-1 in 1958, Bama’s first winning season since 1953. In Sington’s final season at the Un-iversity of Alabama in 1959 the Tide went 7-2-2 with Sington kicking the game-winning field goals against Houston and Georgia Tech. Alabama also played that season in the first Liberty Bowl played in Philadelphia, Penn.
Following his playing days, Sington completed his law degree at Cornell University in New York. He practiced law for some time in New Mexico before returning to Alabama to work in the family business, a chain of sporting goods stores. He also was a member of a radio broadcast team for local high school football for more than 45 seasons.
Fred Sington, Jr., will long be remembered for his vast contributions to the city of Gadsden and the state of Alabama, both on and off the football field. He gave much to the University of Alabama and the sport of football in general. Sington always would take time to talk football with anyone who wanted to ask him a large number of questions about Coach Bryant and playing “big time” college football.
Sington also will long be remembered for his contributions to the youth of Gadsden and his encouragement to young athletes. He will long be remembered for taking time to sign an autograph for the ones who got to meet a real-life hero.
Fred Sington, Jr. was a true American hero, one who made his mark on his chosen home.