01/25/07 — Clyde King honored

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Clyde King honored

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on January 25, 2007 2:14 PM

WILSON -- Former big league player and manager Clyde King was honored Monday night at a banquet held annually by the Hot Stove League of Wilson to support the North Carolina Baseball Museum. About 650 people attended.

After a dozen or so awards were presented to others, several speakers went to the podium to talk about King's life and his influence on the people he has known.

The first was Bob Harris. He is the radio voice for the Duke Blue Devils, and King is an alumna of the rival University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But Harris said King is "a great man ... one who lives his Christian life every day and is not afraid to profess it."

He noted that King began playing sports as a child growing up in Goldsboro, when boys made baseballs out of a rock, twine and tape, and that at age 19 he signed a contract to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He pitched in the first major league baseball game he ever saw.

As a relief pitcher, Harris said, King once won both games of a doubleheader.

Goldsboro's George Whitfield, a longtime high school and college baseball coach who is a close friend of King, was the moderator for the tribute. He read congratulatory letters from some more of King's friends, including former UNC basketball coach Dean Smith and Doug Melvin, manager of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The speakers noted that after playing for Brooklyn and the Cincinnati Reds, King continued his career as a minor league manager and as a major league coach and scout. He was the manager of the San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees, and for several years served as general manager of the Yankees. He still serves that organization as a special adviser to owner George Steinbrennner.

One of the speakers for King's tribute was one of his daughters, Princie Evans of Wilson, who said he taught her and her two sisters to persevere. He gave that same counsel to people he had helped in their baseball careers, she said, including people like Tony LaRussa. LaRussa, manager of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, gives King credit for advice and teaching during his career,

But most important, Mrs. Evans said of her father, "His aim has been to live a life pleasing to his Lord, Jesus Christ,"

Other speakers included:

* Dick Baddour, the Goldsboro native who is the athletics director at UNC. Baddour said King is "the most respected man I know."

* Albert Long, Durham evangelist, who noted that seven men who had played or coached under King had gone on to become major league managers.

* Mike Fox, baseball coach at UNC, whose team was runner-up for the national championship last year. Fox said King established "a legacy at UNC that I try to follow every day."

And David Hartman, former morning show host on ABC-TV. He said that truly "productive and effective people are a rare find, and it is even more rare to find those who are as genuine and Clyde and Norma," referring to Mrs. King who sat with her husband on the dais.

King arose to a standing ovation and gave a short address that was filled with both humor and pathos, stories designed to demonstrate the points that he wanted to convey especially to young people.

Don't be too busy, he said. "Sometimes we're so busy that we run right by the thing we are looking for."

Choose your friends carefully, King advised. We tend to become like the people we associate with.

Pray, but be patient in awaiting answers to prayer.

In your dealings with others, King said, "remember that you never know how you will effect people's lives in the future ... God nurtures the seeds that you plant."

King said he could never have been successful without Jesus in his life, and he said his favorite Bible verse was Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

Finally, King said, remember that, "If what I did yesterday is still important today, then I haven't done much today."

King has been in professional baseball for more than 60 years, but has always considered Goldsboro his home and lived there in the offseasons. The Kings are charter members of Madison Avenue Baptist Church. In addition to Princie Evans, their daughters are Norma Blackman, the wife of Dr. Jesse Blackman of Fremont, and Janet Peacock, whose husband John is an insurance agent and the former director of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.