01/11/14 — Ms. King surprised, humbled by induction

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Ms. King surprised, humbled by induction

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 11, 2014 11:33 PM



The late Clyde King baffled many a hitter with an array of pitches during his stellar Major League Baseball career.

His wife, Norma, got thrown a curveball Friday evening.

And like her selfless husband who gave everything he had to the game he dearly cherished, she humbly and gracefully handled an unexpected surprise. King was among the 29-member Class of 2014 inducted into the prestigious George Whitfield Hall of Fame at Goldsboro High School.

"This was a complete, total surprise to me ... had no idea. Lord knows never did I dream of such a thing," King said. "All my life I've tried to be a good wife, a good mother, good sister, whatever you know."

Escorted to the auditorium stage by her grandson, Ms. King received a standing ovation from the 400-plus people in attendance. The applause echoed, then faded as she sat down in a chair and listened to George Whitfield read her achievements.

"(Norma is) a super wife, super mom and super ambassador for baseball," Whitfield said. "She has been a loyal servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, friend to those in need and defender of those downtrodden.

"She is a loyal, loving and attentive mother and grandmother."

Ms. King grew up in Roseboro and and attended Pineland Junior College in 1942. She transferred to the University of North Carolina where she played two years of field hockey, and received degree concentrations in swimming and modern dance.

She met Mr. Clyde at UNC and the two married in 1946 while he was pitching for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Ms. King began a six-decade career as a "baseball wife," and gathered wonderful memories along the way.

Ms. King befriend Rachel Robinson, wife of Jackie Robinson, during the turbulent first year of his career in 1947. She developed lasting friendships with many of the Brooklyn Dodgers wives and ventured all over the world.

The King children, three girls, were raised in many historic ballparks -- Ebbets Field, Ponce de Leon Park, Gilmore Field, Silver Stadium, Forbes Field, Atlanta Stadium and Yankee Stadium.

All the while, Ms. King maintained the family's home in Goldsboro.

"My husband was a wonderful person ... a wonderful husband, daddy, you name it, he was it so I was blessed," said Ms. King as tears fell down her cheeks.

The 1-hour, 45-minute ceremony included inductees who served in the military and those who unselfishly gave their time to their respective communities on many levels. Among the local honorees were minor league pitching coach Sam Narron, nine-year NFL veteran Greg Warren and Wilber's BBQ owner Wilber Shirley.

Whitfield posthumously inducted the late John Peacock, a native of Fremont; and Cpl. Roldofo P. Hernandez, an Army veteran who fought in the Korean War and earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. He passed away Christmas Day.

Army veteran Ronnie Battle, who served in the Vietnam War, felt humbly blessed by Whitfield's gesture.

"It's awesome. I was speechless when George came by and told me he was including me in this 2014 class," said Battle, head coach of the Kinston Post 43 Senior Legion baseball team and currently winning the fight against pancreatic cancer.

"I sat there and said to myself 'what have I actually done to deserve all this?' I said to George 'the Lord has a way to let people know how much you are appreciated.' I think it's just great that George and the group who helped put this together can do this for us.

"It means a lot to me."

Whitfield recognized three-time N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A men's cross country champion Connor Jones; two-time N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A wrestling champion Nick Quillen; NCISAA 1-A dual-team women's tennis champion Wayne Country Day and the Kinston High boys' and girls' basketball teams, which each won the 2-A state title nearly a year ago.

Not in attendance were Walter Rabb Award winners Mike Fox, head baseball coach at UNC and Elliott Avent, head baseball coach at N.C. State.