01/08/09 — George Whitfield Baseball Clinic set for Saturday

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George Whitfield Baseball Clinic set for Saturday

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 8, 2009 1:46 PM

Pardon George Whitfield for being a little ragged and sometimes scatterbrained these days.

Who can blame him?

The legendary coach toiled through the second half of 2008 to prepare for the 37th edition of his annual baseball clinic and to gather information on the 24th class he plans to induct into the George Whitfield Hall of Fame.

"I tell you what, it's been a four-month process ... maybe longer ... trying to coordinate this and get everyone together," said Whitfield. "This year's (Hall) class is as good a group of guys and as varied a group of guys that I've ever had. The craziest thing about this group is that there is a lot of intertwining."

For instance, 2009 inductee and Detroit Tigers pitcher Brian Moehler started and won the final game played at historic Tiger Stadium. He played for Whitfield in the late 1980s at Richmond Senior High School.

Nearly every inductee in this year's class has some tie to Whitfield.

"There is really no rhyme or reason for who I think about," said Whitfield. "Sometimes their names will pop up when I'm driving, taking a shower ... anywhere. I think 'I really want to honor that guy because he's had a great career.'"

This year's class includes:

* Bob Murphrey -- A former recipient of the N.C. Govenor's Long Leaf Pine Award, coach Murphrey recently retired after 30-plus seasons of coaching at Ayden-Grifton High School. He led the Chargers to three state championships and compiled a career record of 682-327.

* John Ellis Warren -- One of North Carolina's premier high school running backs in the 1950s, Warren played for the legendary E.E. "Knocker" Adkins at Rocky Mount High. He later starred at Chowan College and East Carolina, before playing two seasons for the Yokota Raiders whil serving in the U.S. Army at Yokota Air Base in Japan.

* Bill Dooley -- A former all-Southeastern Conference performer at Mississippi State, Dooley rebuilt three football programs -- UNC, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. While with the Tar Heels, Dooley put three Atlantic Coast Conference championship teams on the field and earned six bowl bids during his eight-year stint.

* Jack Holley -- A name synonymous with high school football in North Carolina, coach Holley guided Wallace-Rose Hill to 33 appearances in the state playoffs and six trips to the state finals. He coached Harrells Christian Academy to the NCISAA 11-man state title in 2008.

* Tom Butters -- In two decades as Duke University's athletics director, the Blue Devils won 40 ACC team titles -- almost twice as many in the previous 24 years combined. The Duke football program won nine Academic Achievement Awards for posting the highest graduation rate between 1981 and 1997. Butters graduated from Ohio Wesleyan and spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

* Alley Hart -- The Lenoir County native led Wake Forest to the Dixie Classic Championship in 1959 and served as co-captain on the 1961 team that won the Deacs' first-ever ACC basketball championship. Hart has won seven gold medals on the state and national level as a competitor in the 3-on-3 Senior Olympic Games in basketball.

* Reese Edwards -- One of the top sports announcers in North Carolina, Edwards served as the executive director of the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame from 1998-2007. He started his career with WPTF Radio in Raleigh and has since described games for fans of all ages on the high school and college circuit.

* Tommy Mattocks -- A former MVP in the East-West All-Star men's basketball game, Mattocks played for the legendary Paul Jones at Grainger High School in Kinston. He now works as a referee and umpire on the high school and college basketball/baseball scenes, and in minor league baseball.

* G. Gilmer Minor III -- Minor received the Spirit of VMI and Distinguished Service Award from VMI in 2008. Inducted into the Greater Richmond Business Hall of Fame in 2003, Minor led VMI to Southern Conference football championships twice during his four-year career.

* Steve Vacendak -- A 1966 graduate of Duke, Vacendak played three seasons in the American Basketball Association and led the Pittsburgh Pipers to the first-ever ABA championship in 1968. He was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 and currently serves as executive director of N.C. Beautiful.

* B.W. Holt Jr. -- The head varsity football coach at Rocky Mount, Holt is just one of three active coaches in North Carolina with 300-plus wins. A former assistant coach in the East-West and Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas games, Holt led the Gryphons to a runner-up finish in the NCHSAA 3-A (small-school) eastern finals in 2008.

* Tom Parham -- A Tar Heel native, Parham guided teams to NAIA national championships in tennis at Atlantic Christian (now Barton) and Elon University. He authored the book "Play Is Where Life Is" and is a member of seven Hall of Fames. Twice in his 40-year coaching career, his teams won 11 straight conference titles.

* Clay Council -- A former player in the San Francisco Giants organization, Council coached three first-round draft picks from 1998-2001 -- Paul Wilder, Landon Powell and Josh Hamilton. He threw for Hamilton during the Home Run Derby last summer at the All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium.

* Paul Miller -- Another Tar Heel native, Miller threw four no-hitters in 1966 for Ayden High School's baseball team. He played Murphrey's team that won the 1968 state title in baseball and is now one of the top people in sales and marketing with Amway Global International.

* Michael Winbush -- A 1980 graduate of Goldsboro High School, Winbush was hired as the first-ever head football coach at Atkins (Winston-Salem) HS in 2005. He served as offensive coordinator for Virginia State University and Norfolk State University in 2004-05 and 2003-04, respectively.

* Add Penfield -- Served as the voice of the Duke football and basketball teams for 21 years and is known as the "original voice of the Blue Devils." Penfield, who is 92 years old, is also a member of the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

"This has been a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too," said Whitfield of the 17-member class.

A social hour is scheduled from 6:30-7 p.m. in the Goldsboro High cafeteria, and the induction ceremony will begin at 7 o'clock.

Whitfield also plans to honor the Mount Olive College baseball team, the 2008 Division II national champion; the Wayne County 9U squad which claimed the Southeast Regional; East Carolina graduate Clayton McCullough, who was tabbed the minor league manager of the year in the Toronto Blue Jays organization; and the four coaches from the 2007 NCHSAA baseball champions -- Cherryville (1-A), Hillsborough Orange (2-A), Rocky Mount (3-A) and J.H. Rose (4-A).

The annual clinic is Saturday with registration scheduled from 7:30-9:15 a.m. Former World Series MVP and New York Yankee great Bobby Richardson will be the kickoff speaker.

Everyone in attendance will also learn about the baseball rule changes for the 2009 season from Mark Dreibelbis, the assistant executive director of the N.C. High School Athletic Association.