Neighbor Profiles: Roy Alston, trophy legend

By Chris James
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

If you go to 2112 Angier Ave., you will see a building with paper over the windows and the doors locked.  But 22 months ago, Triangle Trophy Shop, the first trophy outlet in the city of Durham, was up and running, thanks to Mr. Roy Alston.

Roy Alston, trophy legend. (Staff photo by Chris James)

Alston, owner, has been making trophies in the Durham community for 43 years and doesn’t plan on stopping.

As a Pittsboro native growing up, Alston had only one thing to do and that was to finish school.  “My parents wanted me to go to school, study hard, and get good grades and that’s what I did,” said Alston.

After Alston finished high school he went straight into the workforce and worked at UNC Chapel Hill as a dietary assistant, washing dishes.  Alston then moved up the chain to become a Sterilize Operator for nine years.

While Alston was sweeping the floor in his shop, he said that he also helped with doctors that did research on animals.

“Make a long story short, I did the first heart transplant on a rat that lived for 21 days,” said Alston.

The doctor that Alston worked with left, so he then went to work with the Department of Immunology at UNC, running the operating room of the rats.

“Working with these doctors I was able to get mentioned in medical journals dealing with animal research,” said Alston proudly.

But growing up, working and school wasn’t the only thing Alston did. He also played sports.

At 13, Alston begin to play baseball in the community league. He had a love for baseball and played for about 20 years, from the age of 13 to 33.  In his young adult years, Alston played for the Durham Rams, which was a black baseball team.

“We played a lot of prominent teams that were already established in the Negro Leagues,” said Alston. While cleaning up some in his shop, Alston said “We would travel around North and South Carolina just to play.”

The Durham Rams played at Durham Athletic Park where N.C. Central University’s baseball team now plays and the site for many scenes from the 1988 film “Bull Durham.”

Alston, picking up a broom and sweeping again, begins to talk about the other team in Durham which was an all white team that they played against.

“Our team played the other team in Durham which was a white team and when we played each other the stands would be filled, but we won most of the games,” said Alston.

During his Durham Ram days, Alston explains that the guys that he played with could have all went to the majors if they had an outlet.

“The best ball players never got to play,” said Alston. Alston also said that some people even included him in the mix of the players that could have gone to the majors.

Alston found his calling shortly after his baseball days ended. When he played in tournaments they never had their trophies on time. “That’s how I got started into making trophies,” said Alston.

“I took a gamble and no one believed in it and then I became the first trophy outlet in the city of Durham,” said Alston.  After Alston started there were more businesses like his that whites owned.

Alston didn’t feel awkward because he had already well established his business.

On the day his shop was ruined by an old fuse box Alston said “I cried like a baby.”  But Alston made some adjustments and started to work out of his house until his shop is back up and running. “It’s been a long 22 months,” said Alston

As Alston was walking out of his shop he said, “You can’t live in this world by yourself, I have other trophy shops that call me for stuff and sometimes I call them for stuff but you can’t do it alone.”




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