Hesmer, Whittenburg among the first-timers at NCBM Celebrity Golf tourney

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


Former North Carolina State University basketball star Dereck Whittenburg and former MLS goalkeeper William Hesmer are among the first-time participants in the North Carolina Baseball Museum’s Celebrity Golf Tournament, set for Wednesday, May 22, at Wedgewood Public Golf Course.

The Celebrity Golf Tournament, now in its 17th year, is one of the N.C. Baseball Museum’s major annual fundraisers, along with the Wilson Hot Stove banquet. The day will start with a catered lunch by Parker’s Barbecue at 11 a.m. with introduction of the celebrity guests at noon, followed by the captain’s choice superball golf tournament at 1 p.m. The Dick’s Hot Dog Stand quartet of Soc Gliarmis, Zach Gliarmis, Leander Green and Lee Fulcher will be back to defend its 2018 title.

Whittenburg was a starter on the Wolfpack’s famed 1983 national championship team who famously put up the shot, er, pass, that teammate Lorenzo Charles caught and dunked at the buzzer to defeat Houston in the NCAA final. He is now an associate athletic director at N.C. State. 

Hesmer, a Wilson native and Hunt High graduate, was a two-time All-American at Wake Forest University before an 11-year professional career. He helped the Columbus Crew win the 2008 MLS Cup and retired in 2014. Hesmer, who was inducted into the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame in 2014, is currently a financial planner in Raleigh.

Recent North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame inductee Paul Miller, who was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference quarterback at North Carolina during the Tar Heels’ ACC championship season in 1971, will also make his first appearance at the Celebrity Golf Tournament. Miller will bring a pair of first-time participants as well in former NFL players Blair Bush and Dave Taylor. Bush spent 17 seasons in the NFL on the offensive line and was a starter at center for the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI. Taylor, an NAIA All-American at Catawba College, played six seasons on the offensive line for the Baltimore Colts.

Other first-time participants include former N.C. State and minor league pitcher Daniel Caldwell, the son of former major leaguer Mike Caldwell, and Barton College football coach Chip Hester.

Mike Caldwell, an annual attendee at both the Celebrity Golf Tournament and Wilson Hot Stove banquet, will be joined by several of his teammates from the 1968 N.C. State team that was the last Wolfpack squad to reach the College World Series. The members of that team expected to be present Wednesday are Freddie Combs, Francis Combs, Alex Cheek, John Rowland and Tommy Smith, who also played in the major leagues.

Besides Caldwell and Smith, other former major leaguers expected to attend are Johnny Grubb, Pokey Reese, Monty Montgomery, John Roper, Jim Perry, Jim Coates, Billy Harris, John Donaldson, Floyd Wicker and Fred Valentine, who was the Carolina League MVP as a member of the Wilson Tobs in the summer of 1958.

Along with Bush and Taylor, former NFL players expected to be present Wednesday are Izel Jenkins, who played at Fike High and N.C. State; Milt Plum, Jim Cheyunski and Tom Myers. Other luminaries expected to attend include former Duke basketball star Steve Vacendak, former N.C. State point guard and college basketball coach Eddie Biedenbach, former Duke sports broadcaster Bob Harris, former Carolina Hurricanes radio announcer Chuck Kaiton, former Lee County football coach and N.C. Sports Hall of Famer Paul Gay and N.C. Sports Hall of Fame executives Bobby Guthrie and Don Fish.

The list of attendees also includes former East Carolina baseball coach Monte Little, former college baseball players Rick Richardson, Mike Bryant, Robert Wells and Robin Rose as well as former college football players Lynn Daniell and Leander Green and former minor league baseball player Johnny Ellen.

In addition, Wilson County sporting notables include Earl Boykin, who along with Wicker was a member of ECU’s 1961 NAIA national championship baseball team; former Fike High coaches Henry Trevathan, Gus Andrews, Gilbert Ferrell and Jim Boykin Jr.; Wilson County Schools athletic director Jimmy Tillman and former Greene Central and Snow Hill American Legion Post 94 baseball coach James R. “Rabbit” Fulghum.

Barton athletic director Todd Wilkinson, baseball coach Jim Chester and golf coach Ashley Leonard are also among the invited guests.