01/09/14 — 42nd George Whitfield HOF: Diverse group slated for induction

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42nd George Whitfield HOF: Diverse group slated for induction

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 9, 2014 1:48 PM


The latest class of inductees slated for enshrinement in the prestigious George Whitfield Hall of Fame has an "eastern North Carolina" flavor this year.

Several of the honorees either hail from or have ties to communities in Wayne, Pitt, Wilson, Lenoir and surrounding counties. Included are a Minor League coach, an NFL standout, an Army veteran, a former commander at Seymour Johnson AFB and a national championship coach at a hearing-impaired school.

The inductees assembled by Whitfield have compiled phenomenal resumes that span successful careers in just about every facet of life. The 42nd class is slated for installment Friday evening in the Goldsboro High auditorium.

The celebration begins at 7 p.m.

"I'm just lucky to know all of these people (and) there's an awful lot of diversity in this class," Whitfield said. "Gosh, our dinner, people have been calling and requesting tickets. We're going to have over 400 and that's the biggest crowd we've ever had.

"Never in my life did I think I'd be doing this for 42 years after sitting with that group of coaches one afternoon and telling them my idea. That teaches you to never say never because you just don't know what is going to happen."

Whitfield will honor the late John Gaston Peacock as his first-ever posthumous induction. The Wayne County native graduated from Fremont High School in 1928, played at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and continued his baseball career in the minor leagues.

During his seven-season stint with the Boston Red Sox, Peacock caught Lefty Grove's 300th career win on July 20, 1941. He left Boston after the 1944 season and played the next two years with the Philadelphia Phillies and Brooklyn Dodgers, respectively.

"I knew there was some great baseball stuff with the Red Sox back in those days," Whitfield said. "He was quite a gentleman and baseball player, and did a lot in the community."

Peacock passed away in 1981.

Not only does Whitfield induct his class and revel the attendees with their accomplishments, he recognizes area individuals and teams who succeed in their respective sports.

Among the guests are:

* Connor Jones: A three-time N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A cross country champion;

* Kinston High School: The Vikings' boys and girls' basketball teams each emerged as the NCHSAA 2-A state champion last winter;

* Beaufort High School: The Seadogs' men's basketball teams captured three consecutive Class A state titles from 1959-61 and carried a 91-game win streak into the 1962 season. Four of those players continued their careers in college.

* Wayne Country Day girls' tennis team: The Chargers seized the program's first-ever NCISAA 1-A dual-team title, and seventh crown overall in school history -- all with Joann Logan as head coach;

"The girls are looking forward to Friday night," Logan said. "It is a privilege to be part of an evening in which individuals are recognized for their many contributions in both the athletic arena and beyond.

"We thank Coach Whitfield ... what a great ambassador for our community."

The induction ceremony is the pre-cursor to Whtifield's annual baseball clinic. The day-long affair features some of the nation's top collegiate and professional coaches who share their knowledge with area players, coaches and enthusiasts who have a passion for the game.

Retired tennis coach Tom Parham is the guest speaker.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and the individual portions of the clinic start at 10:10.

"We've got a good group and we're looking forward to it," Whitfield said.