Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather





Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.637.2944 for flexible options & rates.





The Bradsher Beat
Thusday, January 19, 2012

By Bethany Bradsher

A hall of fame for real champions

George Whitfield
(ECU SID image)


A hall of fame for real champions
Va. DB locks in, Ga. QB peels away
Redemptive season lands Revia at ECU
Adversity mounts against Pirates
Early troubles still vex Pirates
ECU-Tulsa Photo Gallery
Audio: Lebo, Morrow & Kemp Postgame
Pirates facing tall order
Football Recruiting: Four Thumbnails Added
Q&A with Brian Mitchell
Pirates get a breather after stiff trials
Q&A with Lincoln Riley
Rompza: Smallest Knight has big night
ECU-UCF Photo Gallery
Audio: Lebo, Paul and Morrow Postgame
Final Conference USA Bowl Scoreboard
UCF, Jordan the Younger get Pirates' attention
Big-play athlete Crump plots path to ECU

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

View the Bonesville Mobile Alpha version of this page.

George Whitfield has wonderful taste in heroes.

A retired baseball coach, Whitfield is a legend in his own right. He touched countless lives in more than four decades as a high school and college coach and somehow managed to become acquainted with every major baseball figure who has come anywhere near North Carolina. Whitfield's pedigree includes five years as an East Carolina assistant under Keith LeClair.

But those accomplishments in his favorite sport are just part of the story of Coach Whit and his extraordinary heroes. To get the full plot, you have to be fortunate enough to be present at Goldsboro High School on the second Friday in January.

In that old high school auditorium with creaky wooden seats, every year since 1985, Whitfield has inducted new people into his personal hall of fame. The ceremony is the kickoff to his annual George Whitfield Baseball Clinic, which has been offered for 40 years as a chance to expose high school baseball players to some of the best coaches in the game.

Last Saturday morning at the clinic, focus turned exclusively to bunts and line drives, to changeups and squeeze plays. But Friday night was staged under a much broader tent. In his biggest Hall of Fame presentation ever, Whitfield honored 26 men and women whose achievements ranged from stunning athletic feats to military heroism to accomplishments in business and medicine.

You see, to be one of Whitfield’s heroes, you don’t have to be a household name or an All-American — although he has honored some of both. National championships, long professional sports careers and storied coaching careers all fall squarely under his radar. But so do individuals like Carol Carson, who was feted on Friday.

Carson is an East Carolina graduate who has labored in relative obscurity in her chosen field for 23 years. As the longtime head athletic trainer at N.C. Wesleyan College, Carson has taped thousands of ankles and been part of two Division III national championship baseball teams. Whitfield recognized both of those teams on Friday, but later he highlighted Carson specifically — for her devotion to her college, her profession and above all to the countless athletes who have come under her care.

So far, 360 people have been inducted into Whitfield’s Hall of Fame. In the early years of the ceremony, he would typically only honor five or six people, but that number has steadily grown over the years, with Friday’s class the largest so far. As Whitfield himself has gotten older, he has found that the pool of people he wants to recognize hasn’t become discernibly smaller. So he has picked up the pace, fueled by the thought that someone important might be left out.

“I realized, ‘There are a lot of people I would like to honor for their wonderful accomplishments,’” he said. “If keep on going with only four a year, I’ll be dead and they will too.’”

Among the amazing realities of Friday’s observance was the fact that two Congressional Medal of Honor recipients were in attendance. Only 85 Medal of Honor winners are still living, and two of those honored soldiers have entered Whitfield’s Hall of Fame in the past two years. Their inclusion is evidence that Whitfield is less concerned with athletic accolades than with things like courage, character and perseverance over a lifetime.

Of course, legendary athletes abound in Coach Whit’s hall. The most recent recipient, in the household name category, was star N.C. State basketball player David Thompson, who was the last to receive his award on Friday night but was nonetheless honored with the same hardware and in the same manner as Carol Carson.

The planning and the execution of the ceremony is all initiated and energized by Coach Whit, but he doesn’t bring an ounce of pretentiousness into the proceedings. Every recognition is infused with generosity and grace. For evidence of this, look no further than the plaques he hands out to every new member of the Hall of Fame.

The plaques are more than two feet tall and are inscribed with dozens of lines of engraving recounting the recipient’s accomplishments from high school on. And each year, Whitfield reads every line of every plague, giving full weight and time to each person and their achievements. Those giant plaques, he said, were born out of his opposition to the little plaques that he had often seen, the ones that only mentioned one accomplishment,

“Sometimes people go and they get an award and it doesn’t say anything,” he said. “It doesn’t really tell a story about you. I thought, if I do these plaques, then anybody can see their whole life unfurl. We start at the very beginning and go to the end.”

There are rarely any surprises in Whitfield’s ceremony, but this year a group of his former players and friends — including ECU baseball coach Billy Godwin — came out with a twist. They honored the honorer, thanking Whitfield for his years of faithful service to athletics in the state with a gift of an Opryland cruise, complete with travel expenses and spending money.

The cruise was a gift from his past Hall of Fame members, the majority of whom showed up on Friday to give a little bit of love and honor back to the one who seems to have an limitless  supply of both for his hundreds of heroes.

Whitfied graduated from then-East Carolina College in 1959.

E-mail Bethany Bradsher

Bethany Bradsher Archives

01/19/2012 03:47 AM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.