01/14/07 — The stars come out for annual Whitfield Clinic

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The stars come out for annual Whitfield Clinic

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on January 14, 2007 2:22 AM

When George Whitfield invites his friends over for dinner every January, the names of the people who show up read like a who's-who list.

Top college coaches, ex-big league managers, former college and professional sports stars, Hall of Fame broadcasters and even four-star generals make the annual trek to Goldsboro.

And that's just for starters.

On Friday, they all came out to dine on arguably some of eastern North Carolina's finest barbecue -- Wilbur's, of course -- and after dinner at Goldsboro High School, they watched as 11 more inductees were enshrined in Whitfield's Hall of Fame.

Then on Saturday, more than 400 boys came out bright and early for the 35th annual George Whitfield Clinic, as college baseball coaches and professional scouts helped teach the youngsters the fundamentals of the game.

"If you're lucky enough to have great coaches, which I certainly was, you learn a great deal from those wonderful leaders," said 2007 Whitfield Hall of Fame inductee General Binford Peay III, a four-star general who is currently the 14th Superintendent in the history of the Virginia Military Institute. "I don't think I could have ever (gotten to where I am today) if I hadn't had great coaching and had the wonderful opportunity to play athletics."

General Peay has received numerous medals, including the purple heart, and was a quarterback for VMI's football team from 1958-61. He is the second four-star general to be inducted by Whitfield. Ronald Griffith, U.S. Army retired, was inducted in 2001 and was on hand for Friday's ceremony.

Bob Harris, the voice of the Duke Blue Devils, was also inducted into Whitfield's Hall of Fame on Friday.

"I've known George for a long time, and what an what an extreme honor it is to be here and to be a recipient of this high honor," said Harris, a two-time North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year, a member of the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame and a graduate of Albemarle High School. "I used to always say I was the luckiest man on the face of the earth because I get to do something I thoroughly enjoy -- and on top of that, I get paid for it."

Each inductee received a plaque recognizing their achievements. Others inducted in the 2007 class included:

* Joe Carbone -- Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1970, Carbone served as captain for Ohio University, which participated in the 1970 College World Series. Now the head baseball coach with the Bobcats, Carbone is the all-time career wins leader (533) for any sport at Ohio University.

* Jimmy Tillman -- A Southern Wayne graduate, Tillman played on the 1968 team for legendary coach Norman Clark. Tillman recently retired as principal from Wilson Fike and is the all-time winningest football coach in SouthWest Edgecombe history.

* Fred Jordan -- The Citadel head baseball coach, Jordan has guided his teams to 10 different championship titles and 500-plus wins during his 15-year tenure.

* Don Stallings -- A former player with the Washington Redskins.

* Jerry Woodside -- A graduate of East Carolina, Woodside was selected to try out for the 1964 Olympic basketball team. An outstanding basketball coach, Woodside collected 560 wins and 21 conference titles during stints at Burlington Williams, Burlington Cummings and J.H. Rose. He is currently the head basketball coach at South Central.

* Jimmy Grimsley -- A longtime figurehead associated with ECU athletics, Grimsley played sports at Stantonsburg High and Saratoga Central. Grimsley also has a baseball tournament -- the Jimmie R. Grimsley Hot Stove League Invitational -- named in his honor.

* Kristi Overton Johnson -- Retired from skiing and now a well-known motivational speaker, she is a former Pam American gold medalist and holder of numerous national and world records. Overton Johnson is an eight-time U.S. Masters champion and has a lake named after her in Pitt County, which is the site of a prestigious cross-country invitational during the fall.

* Lou Pucillo -- Pucillo is best-known as a point guard who many said could not succeed at the collegiate level. The late Everett Case recruited Pucillo to N.C. State and groomed the small, but talented player into an All-American by the time he graduated.

* Mike Myrick -- A Goldsboro native, Myrick was a three-sport letterman in football and basketball. He later earned three letters at East Carolina and eventually spent time in the Air Force. Myrick and Pucillo are golfing partners.

North Carolina baseball coach Mike Fox and former High Point and Virginia Tech baseball coach Chuck Hartman were also honored by Whitfield. Fox was recognized for a successful 2006 season that saw North Carolina advance to the College World Series championship series, and Hartman, who recently retired after 47 seasons as a head coach, was honored for his overall coaching record of 1,441-810-8. His record at Tech was 959-585-8.

"All of the people in our Hall of Fame and the people we honor all have one thing in common," Whitfield said. "And that's what they've done for young people."

-- Rudy Coggins contributed to this report.