Hot Stove Banquet gives back to baseball
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 1, 2011 1:46 PM
Baseball season in Wayne County may not officially start for nearly a month, but enthusiasts of the sport gathered to talk about the game they love on Monday night.
Memories of Wayne County baseball legends of the past and the accomplishments of current players and coaches were recognized during the fifth annual Wayne County Hot Stove Banquet at Lane Tree Golf Course.
Guest speaker Johnny Narron, a coach with the Texas Rangers, encouraged young players in the audience, "To play the game the right way."
Narron recalled being raised with a reverence for the game of baseball saying, "We were taught to play the game the right way. We were taught to respect the integrity of the game."
Narron pointed to his faith and the instrumental role it has played in his life and his professional career. He has coached and been a mentor for 2010 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Hamilton since Hamilton was eight-years-old.
Narron was a part of the Rangers' coaching staff this past season as Texas won its first American League Pennant and faced the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.
"When I put my faith in the Lord's plan, he blessed me beyond my expectations," said Narron.
During the 2010 season the Rangers adopted the motto, "Why not us." Narron reminded players in attendance, "If you believe you can, you're right. If you believe you can't, you're also right."
Former Charles B. Aycock High School standout shortstop Connor Narron received the Jerry Narron Award as the area's outstanding player. Narron hit .317 during his senior season with the Golden Falcons. He also had 30 RBI and 42 walks in 60 at-bats.
Narron was part of the Golden Falcons' state championship squad as a freshman in 2007. He helped Aycock compile a 90-23 record during his prep career in Pikeville.
Narron was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball draft. He hit .206 with seven hits and four RBI in 34 at-bats while playing 11 games with the Gulf Coast League Orioles this past summer. Narron was called up to the Aberdeen IronBirds of the New York-Penn League and hit .121 in 33 at-bats in eight games.
"I would like to thank my family," said Narron. "I would also like to thank Coach Charles Davis, Coach Derek Matthews, Coach Nelson Cunningham and Coach Rob Watt for everything they've done for me. This award means a lot."
Former Rosewood pitcher Matt Neal received the Clyde King Award as the area's top pitcher. Neal went 10-2 in 2010 with a 1.14 earned run average. He compiled 110 strikeouts with 24 walks in 74 innings of work. He recorded three shutouts and eight complete games while guiding the Eagles to a second straight Carolina 1-A Conference title and an appearance in the Eastern finals. Neal is continuing his baseball career at Pitt Community College.
"I would like to thank my family for supporting me," said Neal. "I would also like to thank Jason King and Rob Watt for everything you've done."
A $300 donation to the Wayne County Fellowship of Christian Athletes was made in honor of Clyde King.
Neal's coach at Rosewood, Jason King, was given the Doyle Whitfield Award, as the area's most outstanding coach. King has compiled a 35-15 record in two years as the Eagles' head coach, including an 18-2 mark in Carolina 1-A Conference play.
Former Eastern Wayne catcher Cambric Moye received the George Whitfield Award, given to the area player who best displays dedication, determination, sacrifice for the good of the team and a love of baseball. Moye is currently playing baseball at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
T.J. Smothers received the John Thomas Volunteer Coaches Award. Smothers is the founder of the Rosewood Youth Sports Association and in 2008 he formed the Wayne County Pirates youth baseball team. This past summer, Smothers' 10-Under Pirates team captured the USSA World Series Championship in Kingsport, Tenn.
A $300 donation was also made to the Wayne County Babe Ruth Association in Thomas' honor.