Hot Stove fired up, ready to go Tuesday

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The past, present and future of major league baseball will be represented Tuesday at the 43rd annual Wilson Hot Stove League banquet at Recreation Park Community Center.

Tickets for the event, which is a fundraiser for the North Carolina Baseball Museum, are $25 and are on sale at the museum, Dick’s Hot Dogs and EB Sports, as well as at the door. The banquet, which includes a catered meal from Parker’s Barbecue, will begin promptly at 6 p.m. There will be an informal reception from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the N.C. Baseball Museum in Fleming Stadium.

A deep list of former major league and Negro League players are expected to attend, including four first-time attendees — Alvin Morman, Tracy Woodson, John Roper and Elliot Johnson. Twelve former major league players — Mike Caldwell, Dick Such, Floyd Wicker, Jim Holt, Monty Montgomery, Al Holland, Fred Valentine, Tim Talton, Billy Harris, Bill Harrington, Scott Pose and John Donaldson — and former Negro Leaguers Luke Atkinson, Clifford Layton and Hubert “Big Daddy” Wooten are expected to be present for Wilson’s annual winter salute to baseball.

The featured guest for the event will be Kinston native and Oakland Athletics pitcher Chris Hatcher, who will begin his ninth season in the big leagues in 2018. Hatcher, who played at UNC Wilmington, played briefly for the Wilson Tobs summer collegiate team in 2004. He has played for the Miami Marlins, who brought him up to the majors as a catcher in 2010 before converting him to a pitcher, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Also on the guest list is MacKenzie Gore, who will receive the Gaylord Perry Amateur Pitching Award. Gore led Whiteville High to its fourth straight North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1-A title in June, just before the San Diego Padres made him the third overall pick in the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Longtime Greenville Rose High head coach Ronald Vincent, who has won more than 900 games and six state championships, will be honored as the recipient of the Clyde King Excellence in Coaching Award.

Andrew Webster, who became Barton College’s fourth All-American in baseball last spring, will receive the Trot Nixon “Gamer” Award while former Bulldogs head coach Josh Simmons will be presented the Willis Hackney Award for his contributions to baseball in the community.

Bryson Worrell, a 2017 Hunt High graduate and current freshman member of the East Carolina baseball team, will receive the Clint Faris Award as the top amateur player in the area.

Four former N.C. State University standouts and longtime friends of the N.C. Baseball Museum and Wilson Hot Stove League — Mike Caldwell, Alex Cheek, Fred Combs and Francis Combs — will be presented Charles H. “Red” Barrett Special Achievement distinctions.

Steve Berry of Rocky Mount will receive the Eunice Sasser Memorial Officials Award presented by the Eastern Plains Athletic Officials Association.

The Wilson City Little League Ages 7-8 team that won the North Carolina Little League state championship and the Greenville North State Little League team that was the runner-up at the Little League World Series last August in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, will be recognized for their achievements.

The 2018 Wilson Hot Stove League will be dedicated to the memory of four individuals who passed away in 2017 and were instrumental in the development of athletics in Wilson County: former Barton College president James Hemby Jr., former Stantonsburg High coach and teacher Jim DeRatt, former Lucama principal Hugh Flowers and former Wilson Police officer Ed Norville.

Participating in the activities will be legendary former Duke University sportscaster Bob Harris and Triangle radio personality and “The Voice of the Durham Bulls,” Tony Riggsbee.