Hatcher, Gore top list of Wilson Hot Stove banquet guests

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Oakland Athletics pitcher Chris Hatcher will be the featured guest at the 43rd annual Wilson Hot Stove League banquet, set for Tuesday, Jan. 16, at Recreation Park Community Center.

MacKenzie Gore, the No. 3 pick in last June’s MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Whiteville High, will be on hand to receive the Gaylord Perry Amateur Pitching Award.

The banquet, which serves as a fundraiser for the North Carolina Baseball Museum, will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets, which are $25 each and include a catered meal from Parker’s Barbecue, are on sale now at the N.C. Baseball Museum, Dick’s Hot Dogs and EB Sports.

Hatcher, a Kinston native and UNC Wilmington product who played for the Wilson Tobs summer collegiate team briefly in 2004, is approaching his eighth season in the major leagues. He broke in with the Florida (now Miami) Marlins in 2011 after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2006 amateur draft. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2015 season and the Dodgers deal him to Oakland last August.

Gore led Whiteville to its fourth straight North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1-A championship last June, earning his third championship series MVP in the process. He was named Baseball America High School Player of the Year and Gatorade High School Male Athlete of the Year. Gore had signed with East Carolina University but opted for professional baseball when the San Diego Padres drafted him third overall.

Longtime Greenville Rose baseball coach Ronald Vincent, the state’s all-time winningest high school baseball coach, will be presented the Clyde King Excellence in Coaching Award. Vincent, who will coach his 48th season next spring, has won more than 900 games at Rose and Farmville Central, where he spent his first three years. All six of Vincent’s NCHSAA 4-A championships, however, came with the Rampants. A 1965 Rose High graduate, Vincent played football at East Carolina.

Another Greenville connection at the banquet will be the presence of members of the Greenville North State Little League team that was the runner-up at the Little League World Series last August in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Andrew Webster, who became the fourth All-American in Barton College baseball history last spring, will be honored as the recipient of the Trot Nixon “Gamer” Award, bestowed annually by its namesake, Nixon, a Wilmington native who played 12 seasons in the major leagues.

Webster’s coach, Josh Simmons, who stepped down after last season, will also be honored as the recipient of the Wilson Hot Stove League’s Willis Hackney Memorial Award, given annually for service toward baseball in the community.

Bryson Worrell, an East Carolina freshman and 2017 Hunt High graduate, will be saluted as the top amateur player in the area last season with the Clint Faris Award.

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 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.

An expansive list of former major league and Negro League players who are expected to be at the banquet includes first-time attendees Tracy Woodson, Joey Devine, J.D. Closser, John Roper and Elliot Johnson. Expected to make repeat appearances are Caldwell, Jim Holt, Monty Montgomery, Al Holland, Fred Valentine, Tim Talton, Billy Harris, Bill Harrington, Jim Coates, Scott Pose and John Donaldson, along with former Negro Leaguers Luke Atkinson, Clifford Layton and Hubert “Big Daddy” Wooten.