by Mike Potter
McKIMMON CENTER/RALEIGH Texas Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison was the first active player in seven years not named Josh Hamilton to win the Will Wynne Award as the North Carolinian contributing most to baseball.
Those were just two of the big award winners at the 63rd annual baseball banquet of the Raleigh Hot Stove League on Tuesday night.
Mike Caldwell, who won the Will Wynne Award in both 1978 and 1982 and is now a coach in the San Francisco
Former Middle Creek right-hander Jimmy Boyd won the Hunter award this time, while his team collected the Board of Directors’ Special Achievement Award for winning the state 4A championship.
Tom Hayes, founder of the Central Carolina Summer Scholastic League, claimed the Jim and Joe Mills “Love of the Game” Award, while Bob Sutton of the Burlington Times-News was named the state’s baseball writer of the year for a second time.
Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach Johnny Narron was the keynote speaker for the event, which included remarks from Minor League Baseball CEO Pat O’Conner, first-time attendee and veteran International League President Randy Mobley, and long-time Carolina League President John Hopkins among others.
Harrison, who graduated from South Granville High, was 18-11 with a 3.29 ERA in leading the Rangers to a wild-card playoff spot and pitched in the All-Star Game.
“I was reading through the brochure and, reading the names of the guys who have received this award,” said Harrison, who just signed a five-year contract worth $55 Million. “I played with a couple of them, Hamilton and Kevin Millwood, and it’s just an honor to be in the same clubhouse as those two guys. But receiving an award that those two guys have received is really amazing. I’ve been really blessed.”
Rodon, a Holly Springs alumnus, went 9-0 with a 1.57 ERA in earning the ACC pitcher of the year award and leading the Wolfpack to an NCAA Regional title.
“Hopefully (number) four next year,” Rodon said of the award. “I can’t wait to get back onto the diamond.”
Boyd, now at Brunswick Community College, went 8-1 with an 0.86 ERA and batted .450 for the Mustangs last season.