Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
For the second year in a row, an active major leaguer will be the featured guest at the Wilson Hot Stove banquet.
Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall will headline the 44th annual midwinter salute to the national pastime, scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 22, at Recreation Park Community Center in the gymnasium.
In addition, ECU senior outfielder Bryant Packard will be on hand to receive the Trot Nixon “Gamer” Award at the banquet, which serves as a benefit for the North Carolina Baseball Museum. Tickets to the event, which includes a catered meal from Parker’s Barbecue, are $25 each and are now on sale at the museum, located inside Fleming Stadium, as well as Dick’s Hot Dog Stand and E.B. Sports.
Chisenhall, a Morehead City native who has spent all eight of his MLB seasons with the Cleveland Indians, signed with the Pirates as a free agent in late November. He was originally taken by Pittsburgh in the 11th round of the 2006 MLB First-Year Player Draft shortly after he graduated from West Carteret High. Chisenhall signed with South Carolina but ended up attending Pitt Community College for two years and was drafted by the Indians in the first round as the 29th overall selection in 2008.
Kinston native and resident Chris Hatcher, a pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, was the speaker at the 2018 banquet.
Headlining the list of award recipients is Chuck Finklea, who will be just the sixth person to be given the Wilson Hot Stove Lifetime Achievement honor. Finklea, who was inducted into the Barton College Athletic Hall of Fame in October, has been a long-time supporter of baseball in Wilson in general and the N.C. Baseball Museum specifically. A former player at Farmville Central High and then Atlantic Christian College (now Barton), Finklea has given freely of his time as well as financial support.
Packard became the first player in school history to be named to six All-America teams last spring. The Pirates junior outfielder/designated hitter overcame a lingering back injury early in the season to set a school record for consecutive games with a hit and the D.H. Conley High product was named American Athletic Conference Player of the Year in helping the ECU win the conference championship.
Former Barton College pitcher Trent Fennell, now in the Colorado Rockies minor league organization, will receive the Gaylord Perry Amateur Pitching Award. Fennell’s 12.98 strikeouts per 9 innings last spring ranked 10th among NCAA Division II hurlers.
Fike junior Chad Bean will receive the Clint Faris Award, given annually to the top amateur player in the Wilson County area. Bean, who was named 3-A Big East Conference Pitcher of the Year and to the North Carolina Baseball Coaches Association 3-A All-State Team, went 9-1 with an 0.86 ERA and 56 strikeouts in helping the Golden Demons win the Big East championship.
Former C.B. Aycock High baseball coach and Wilson County native Charles Davis will receive the Clyde King Excellence in Coaching Award, named for the late Goldsboro native and former MLB player, manager and executive. Davis, a 1982 Beddingfield graduate, retired after the 2017 season, his 27th at CBA. His Golden Falcons teams won 512 games, 13 conference championships, three 3-A Eastern titles and the 2007 NCHSAA 3-A crown.
The Wilson Tobs organization, a vital part of the Wilson baseball scene for more than two decades, will be honored with the Willis Hackney Award, given annually to the individual or organization that promotes the sport in the community.
Longtime Wilson Hot Stove attendee and Raleigh radio personality Tony Riggsbee will receive the Charles H. “Red” Barrett Special Achievement distinction.
This year’s program is dedicated to the memory of seven friends of the Wilson Hot Stove who passed away in the last year and a half: former Duke football and Wilson high school football and baseball star Bill Davis, former UNC sports broadcaster Woody Durham, Coastal Plain League co-founder Pete Bock, Clyde King’s wife, Norma, and Wilson baseball luminaries Walker Mabry, Rainey Wilkerson and Gene Summerlin.
The banquet will start promptly at 6 p.m. That afternoon a reception will be held for Hot Stove guests and the public at the N.C. Baseball Museum, starting around 4.