01/10/13 — Whitfield gets to intertwine his two loves -- baseball, country music --during ceremony

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Whitfield gets to intertwine his two loves -- baseball, country music --during ceremony

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 10, 2013 1:47 PM

Sitting and reminiscing with coaches during dinner after his baseball clinic last season, George Whitfield fielded an unusual question.

"Coach, who is somebody you'd really like to induct into your Hall of Fame?" the coach asked.

Whitfield thought for a moment. Then he told the coach that he had always hoped he could intertwine baseball with his other love -- country music. If he could pull it off, he'd give the coach a scholarship to attend his annual affair this season.

The coach smiled and assured Whitfield he'd work on it.

"I never thought about it again," Whitfield said.

A month or so later, Whitfield received a phone call. The person jokingly asked Whitfield if he could send him to either East Carolina or N.C. State to play baseball on a scholarship.

"Who is this?" Whitfield asked.

The next answer nearly blew him away. The coach had fulfilled Whitfield's wish and contacted country music legend Bill Anderson, who dreamed of playing baseball while attending the University of Georgia.

"I never imagined this would happen," Whitfield said.

Whitfield's aspiration becomes reality when he'll enshrine Anderson as part of a 26-member class during the 41st annual George Whitfield Hall of Fame ceremony at Goldsboro High School on Friday evening. The induction takes place at 7 o'clock in the auditorium.

The Hall of Fame is the precursor to Whitfield's day-long baseball clinic, which is the following day on campus. Coaches will speak on different topics to middle- and high school-aged youngsters who want to learn more about how to play and manage the nation's pastime.

Ron Paulk, assistant baseball coach at UAB, is the guest speaker.

"Lots of them I've known for a long time and have been friends with for a long time," Whitfield said. "They're wonderful about offering their time and expertise to help young people, and that's really what it's all about.

hey down-to-earth people who just enjoy helping kids."

Also among the inductees are Goldsboro alums Anthony Teachey and Bob Wolfe; and Southern Wayne graduate Nelson Smith.

Teachey earned all-state accolades during his prep career and carried that success to Wake Forest, where he received co-Most Valuable Player honors with Michael Jordan.

Wolfe enjoyed two coaching stints at Goldsboro. He made stops at Kinston, Wilmington Laney and Eastern Wayne before entering the private business sector in the early 1990s. Wolfe returned to coaching in 1994 at Apex High School, and officially retired last year after guiding the Cougars to 104 victories and a pair of conference championships.

Smith played tight end for the North Carolina squad during the annual Shrine Bowl in 1974 and graduated from Southern Wayne in 1975. He played four seasons for legendary coach Pat Dye at East Carolina and was a former assistant football/baseball coach for Hal Stewart at St. Pauls High School.

Whitfield's Hall of Fame, as usual, resembles a "Who's Who" yearbook. He's recognized more than 1,000 people who have either significantly contributed to sports or made a tremendous impact on their respective community.

The inductee list also includes:

* Donnie Baxter -- a coaching legend in North Carolina and distinguished American Legion baseball umpire who is a lifetime member of the N.C. Coaches Association;

* Al Buehler -- a former standout track athlete at Maryland in the early 1950s who had the honor of carrying the Olympic Torch through Durham in 1996;

* Freddie Combs -- a member of the ACC Silver Anniversary team and former 13th-round draft pick by the San Diego Chargers;

* Melissa Barrow Culbreth -- current treasurer of the Board of Directors for N.C. Amateur Sports;

* Johnny Evans -- a second-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 1978 who has been the sideline analyst for nearly three decades with the Wolfpack Sports Network;

* Ching Eikenberry -- the wife of U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and former reporter for the Chinese World Journal based in San Francisco and the nation's capital;

* Barry Hall -- a Surry County Sports Hall of Fame inductee who recorded more than 600 victories during his baseball career in western North Carolina;

* Edsal Hiatt -- a former coach-of-the-year on several levels whose career spanned more than four decades;

* John Thomas Hunt -- deemed "too light" to play college football, he turned his attention toward officiating and is one of the state's most-decorated referees on the high school and collegiate level;

* Jack Huss, Sr. -- a Golden Whistle Award recipient from the N.C. High School Athletic Association who has officiated five basketball state championship games, the most recent in 2006;

* Col. Jeannie M. Leavitt -- Base Commander at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

* Joel Long -- a member of the N.C. Athletic Directors Hall of Fame who has an award established in his name which recognizes the top male and female senior athlete each year at Broughton High School;

* Shelly Marsh -- who compiled 532 wins during his coaching career and has worked alongside NCHSAA pioneers Simon Terrell, Charlie Adams, Davis Whitfield and Jerry McGee;

* Jack McGinley -- the winning pitcher of the only Atlantic Coast Conference baseball team (Wake Forest) to claim a College World Series championship;

* Jerry Moore -- former Appalachian State head football coach who guided the program to three consecutive FCS national titles from 2005-07;

* Linwood Pollock Jr. -- has guided Arendell-Parrott Academy to 23 conference titles and four N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association championships in golf;

* Bobby Purcell -- executive director of the Wolfpack Club and Senior Associate Athletics Director at N.C. State;

* Gordon Roberts -- a Medal of Honor recipient who served in Vietnam;

* Carolyn Rogers -- former Perquimans High volleyball coach who won 303 matches and guided two teams to runner-up finishes in the NCHSAA playoffs;

* Milton Senter -- spent 13 seasons as the Fuquay-Varina American Legion Post 116 coach and earned a spot in the N.C. Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2012;

* Moyer Smith -- a former N.C. Shrine Bowl participant and three-sport letterman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill during the war-torn years;

* Phil Weaver -- a decorated student-athlete and coach who has spent more than 40 years on the sideline for six different athletic programs at Grimsley High School in Greensboro.