01/23/11 — Hot Stove banquet set for Jan. 31

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Hot Stove banquet set for Jan. 31

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 23, 2011 1:51 AM

Baseball season is nearly here.

Twitter, Facebook and other applications have been blowing up within the last months as trades and arbitration talks flood the Major Leagues.

Folks from Wayne County and the surrounding communities will get their chance to talk baseball later this month during the annual Wayne County Hot Stove League banquet.

The fifth installment is Jan. 31 at Lane Tree Golf Club. A social hour kicks off the evening at 6 o'clock with dinner to follow.

"Hot Stoves at the state level have been around for a long time," said organizer Roger May, who had coaching stints at Barton College and Spring Creek. "Years ago, Hot Stove people met and talked about baseball, usually before spring training began. If you love baseball and talking baseball with people, this is worth it."

"It's going to be a great night."

The night includes a memorial for the late Clyde King and John Thomas. The two selflessly and passionately gave their lives to the game they adored. A scholarship to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Camp will be provided in King's honor. Funds will be raised for the Wayne County Babe Ruth Association in memory of Thomas, who spent more than 30 seasons as a volunteer coach and director of the WCRBA.

"Clyde was so influential in and being a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes," said May. "John had a tremendous impact on the Wayne County Babe Ruth Association."

Johnny Narron, hitting coach for the Texas Rangers, will serve as the guest speaker. Narron and the Rangers won the franchise's first American League pennant, and lost to San Francisco in the 2010 World Series.

"Johnny, I'm sure, is going to deliver a great message," said May. "The experience he went through this past year is amazing. Not many people get to participate in a World Series."

Five awards will be presented during the banquet. Each is named after a Wayne County individual who has helped promote baseball and kept a strong tradition intact in surrounding communities.

The awards are:

* Jerry Narron -- Area's top player;

* Clyde King -- Area's top pitcher;

* Doyle Whitfield -- Area's top coach;

* George Whitfield -- baseball scholarship presented to Wayne County high school player;

* John Thomas -- Outstanding volunteer coach.

"There is so much baseball tradition in Wayne County and the surrounding areas, and my ultimate goal is to be able to give back to the community through the Hot Stove League," said May. "If we could ever make some money doing this, I'd really like to give back to youth programs and the high schools."

The banquet has broken even financially each year, which has prompted May to sit down and compose other ways to raise money. He wants to organize a golf tournament and possibly start a baseball invitational.

"As soon as this banquet is over, I'm going to sit down with a group of people and get started on ways to raise money while it's fresh on everyone's mind," said May.

Tickets remain available for the event, and can be purchased at either the Sportsman's World warehouse or Trophies and Tributes on Ash Street. Cost is $25 per person or $60 for a charter membership, which includes two tickets to the Hot Stove banquet.