Home Lifestyle RAMBLINGS: Remembering North Carolina’s ‘Mr. Baseball’

RAMBLINGS: Remembering North Carolina’s ‘Mr. Baseball’

Always think of George Whitfield, longtime baseball coach, the first of December with an annual Christmas delivery of World’s Finest chocolate covered almonds.

George has been sending these chocolates to my family for about three decades. When my children were young, I hid the container or the chocolates would have been gone within a day.

George served many years as a baseball coach and later athletic director at Richmond Senior High as well as being the Hamlet Legion baseball coach for many years. After leaving quite a baseball legacy in the county, he eventually left the county and served as an assistant baseball coach at East Carolina University under three different head coaches, worked as athletic director at Mount Olive College, and as the first baseball coach at Pitt Community College, setting up another winning baseball program.

My late husband, Clark Cox, loved the game of baseball since childhood. He often told me that his parents often picked him up from school early so he could watch World Series and All-Star games on television. It was amazing how he remembered statistics about some of the baseball greats. While working at the Richmond County Daily Journal, he had no problem filling in for the sports editor for baseball games. Covering these games is how he met George and found someone who loved the game as much as he.

Clark shared with me as how George had lost his mother at an early age and was reared in the Kinston/Goldsboro area by his aunts. His father did not want George to grow up in New York City but did not want to leave the city himself.


George’s life changed when his high school baseball coach took an interest in him and instilled in him a sense of self-confidence that he had the potential to be a good athlete … indeed, and later a coach who would become known as “Mr. Baseball” in the state.

George never forgot the coach who helped him realize his potential and discover his passion in life. He has paid it forward many times over. Over 90 of his players have received athletic scholarships, with three of them making it to the major leagues.

George, in all these years, has never abandoned his passion for the game and his desire to mentor young men. He stays involved in sponsoring baseball clinics and helps to raise money for scholarships for boys who otherwise would not be able to attend these clinics. With guys like George, I think baseball will continue to have a place among America’s favorite pastimes.

Helen Cox is a former journalist and educator in Richmond County.

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