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Wow! What a night!
The recent Cliff Godwin appreciation occasion in Snow Hill proved a bonanza beyond expectations for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plains, 17 clubs located in five Eastern North Carolina counties.
Proceeds exceeded $67,000.
Godwin is a native of Greene County and the Snow Hill community who not only starred in three sports at Greene Central High but is now approaching his fourth year as the head coach at East Carolina University, his alma mater.
The amount to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs grew in a hurry through a huge donation.
But also prominent was an organized, determined effort led by high school and American Legion baseball coaching legend James “Rabbit” Fulghum and retired city of Kinston Recreation Director Bill Ellis, who has ties with the Down East Wood Ducks, a high Class A Carolina League minor league baseball team located in Kinston.
Numerous other individuals were involved, including Tony Beasley of the Texas Rangers, North Carolina State University head baseball coach Elliott Avent and Oakland A’s relief pitcher Chris Hatcher, a Kinston product.
48 SPORTS ITEMS
Fulghum’s group collected 48 sports memorabilia items for the silent auction.
Baseball items bid upon were baseballs signed by Chad Tracy, who played nine years in the majors for the Arizona Diamondbacks and three other teams; by Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, by Godwin, by Trea Turner of the Washington Nationals, by former major league pitcher Scott Bankhead, by Hatcher, by all-star catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers and five other teams.
Also, by Chicago White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon, by Pitt Community College head baseball coach Tommy Eason, a Greene Central product; by Fulghum, who coached at Greene Central and for the Snow Hill American Legion; by the Carolina League; by San Diego Padres pitcher Carter Capps; by Lonnie Chisenhall of the Cleveland Indians, by former major league slugger Cecil Fielder, by Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers, by Cleveland Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin and legendary high school and American Legion coach George Whitfield.
The Wood Ducks donated jerseys, bats and baseballs. and available was a jersey of baseball great Willie Parker (Pittsburgh Pirates).
The sport of football contributed a football signed by Henry Trevathan, who coached Fike High to state championships in 1967, 1968 and 1969; a football signed by Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren and footballs signed by ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery.
In the sport of basketball, Greene Central great Theodore “Blue” Edwards, who played several years in the NBA, was remembered with a photo of him being guarded by the incomparable Michael Jordan; and in a photo with Johnny Dawkins of the Utah Jazz in the background. An Edwards jersey was also auctioned. A basketball signed by Kinston’s Reggie Bullock, who plays for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, was available.
Golf was represented by a Masters hat signed by the late and legendary Arnold Palmer.
Godwin has become Greene County’s favorite son in three-plus seasons with the Pirates, winning over 100 games and a conference championship.
Veteran WNCT-TV Sports Director Brian Bailey hailed Godwin as “a great baseball mind, a great community leader and the man who will take ECU to Omaha (site of the College World Series).”
Expectations of Godwin leading the Pirates to Omaha were echoed by state Sen. Don Davis of District 5 and Kirk Dominick, interim president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plains.
Davis presented Godwin the Laurel Wreath Award in behalf of the state of North Carolina. The distinction is the most prestigious awarded by the state for athletic achievement.
“For all you have done and for all you gave,” Davis said in his presentation to Godwin.
Davis spoke of Godwin’s many behind-the-scenes activities in the ECU community and praised him for accompanying the Southeast Region championship team from Pitt County to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania
HOT STOVE DUTIES
A week later, Fulghum again demonstrated his baseball passion with the annual Snow Hill American Legion Post 94 Hot Stove gathering at Greene Central High.
The jack-of-all-trades for the Snow Hill Hot Stove, Fulghum saluted coaches Ryan Meadows and Corey Skinner for directing the Pitt County American Legion team to the state finals each of the last two seasons. Meadows is the head coach at North Pitt and Skinner serves in same capacity at Ayden-Grifton.
Other high school head coaches in attendance were Jon Smith of Hunt, Jackson Massey of North Lenoir; Scott Jones of Greene Central and Allen Thomas of Charles B. Aycock.
Retired head coaches recognized were Jabo Fulghum, Eastern Wayne; Tommy Hawkins, Saratoga Central and Beddingfield; Charles Davis, Charles B. Aycock; Bob Murphrey, Ayden-Grifton; Ron Vincent of Greenville Rose, Lind Hartsell of now-defunct Contentnea High and South Lenoir; and George Whitfield of Richmond County.
Fulghum noted Murphrey was recently inducted into the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame and that Whitfield is a member of “most halls of fame that have been invented.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Introduced at the Hot Stove outing was Marvin Jarman, who has been assocIated with countless roles at Greenville Rose in five decades.
But documented is the fact that, since 1966, Jarman has attended 1,194 consecutive Rose basketball games — home and away.
“That’s what you call consistency,” Fulghum quipped.
Returning was Lind Hartsell Jr., National Junior College Athletic Association Region X director.
Fulghum credited Hawkins for his baseball innovation.
He mentioned back in Hawkins’ days as Saratoga Central head coach when his Cougars showed up at Richmond County wearing baseball uniforms that resembled prison attire.
The folks at Richmond County were left flabbergasted.
Guests included Todd Wilkinson, former Barton College head baseball coach and now director of athletics at the NCAA Division II school.
Wilkinson noted his pitching coach at the University of North Carolina in 1982 was Howard McCullough, a veteran major league scout who was honored with a Hot Stove Hall of Fame award.
Hawkins good-naturedly complained that McCullough never paid any attention to any of his players because he refused to allow McCullough to ride in his 1960 push-button Chrysler.
Fulghum encouraged the turnout to remember Ronnie Battle and Willie Jones, who are battling health issues.
Battle, a baseball standout at numerous levels, is the Kinston American Legion head coach. Jones was Fulghum’s strongest supporter in establishing and building the Snow Hill American Legion baseball program.