Larry Price was on a cruise ship in the Caribbean a few years ago when he heard a familiar voice.
"Bulldog!" Price said, recognizing Cherry Hill East legend and former major-league pitching star Orel Hershiser.
Hershiser, who won the Cy Young Award as the National League's top pitcher and led the Los Angeles Dodgers to the World Series title in 1988, was part of a golden era in Cherry Hill East athletics in the 1970s and 1980s.
So was Price.
A baseball and football star during a time when the Cougars were South Jersey powers in both sports, Price will be inducted into the Cherry Hill East Athletic Hall of Fame along with 15 others Nov. 25 at the Indian Spring Country Club.
"Larry was one of the most competitive, hardworking athletes I ever coached," said former Cherry Hill East baseball coach Dave Martin, who also will be inducted at the event. "He was the ultimate team player. Just a joy to coach."
Price, who graduated from Cherry Hill East in 1981, was a pitcher, shortstop, and top hitter in baseball and a quarterback and free safety in football.
Price, who lives in Boise, Idaho, and works in the telecommunications business, said the honor stirs memories of his time at Cherry Hill East.
"I'll never forget those days," Price said. "Playing baseball for Dave Martin, playing football for Bo Wood. Saturday morning games, when there was so much atmosphere and school spirit and we were competing against teams like Pennsauken and Camden and Woodrow Wilson — there was nothing like it."
Price said playing for Martin and Wood shaped his athletic career.
"I looked up to those coaches so much," Price said. "They were intense. They were a player's coach as long as you worked your butt off. They made me a better player, and they made me a better person."
Martin recalled a play Price made in a game at Pennsauken in his senior season, with the South Jersey North conference title on the line.
"Pennsauken had runners on second and third, one out," Martin said. "A kid hits a swinging bunt and Larry comes off the mound, fields it and just lays out and gets the guy out at home.
"It was one of the best fielding plays I ever saw. [Pennsauken coach] Don Spera, he couldn't believe it. He said it was one of the best plays he ever saw."
Price said the sheer size of Cherry Hill East in those days — "You're talking about a school with 4,000 students," he said — and the culture of athletic competition pushed him and others to higher levels.
"It was so competitive in those days," Price said. "The numbers really helped. It was so tough to compete. The numbers made an average athlete into a good athlete, and a good athlete into an even better one."
After high school, Price played four years on a baseball scholarship at the University of South Carolina, pitching in the College World Series in 1982 and 1985.
"There was nothing like it," Price said of those experiences.
Price has moved around the country on business. He enjoys the beauty of Idaho but misses the "vibe" of South Jersey.
He heard an echo of the past on that cruise ship, when he recognized Hershiser's voice before he saw the 1976 Cherry Hill East graduate who set a major-league record in 1988 with an astounding 59 consecutive scoreless innings.
"He couldn't have been more gracious," Price said. "I told him, 'You probably don't remember me, but I won more games as a pitcher at Cherry Hill East than you did. Of course, you ended up with a few more zeroes on your paycheck.' "
If You Go
What: Cherry Hill East Athletic Hall of Fame banquet.
When/where: Saturday, Nov. 25, at 11:30 a.m. at Indian Spring Country Club, Marlton.
Who: This year's class features Kristel Haesler (class of 1999, swimming), Erin Halpin ('87, track), Kristen Kisselbach ('90, swimming), Gary Kranzley ('72, swimming), Mike Meyer ('79, football), Bruce Miller ('82, track), Judy Neutze ('74, gymnastics), Lisa Neutze ('77, gymnastics), John Nicholson ('76, baseball, soccer), Patti Owens ('81, field hockey, lacrosse), Larry Price ('81, football, baseball), Rocco Santaguida ('77, basketball), Jared Morris ('94, tennis), coach Dave Martin, coach Bill Sheppard, and equipment facilitator Ed Johnson.
Tickets: $40 for adults, $15 for children.
Contact: Fred Belchikoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.