Febuary 7, 2003

FEBRUARY 7, 2003 - Kinston, North Carolina
By Chris Kline
Staff Writer - Kinston.com
[Reprinted with permission from author]

The Kinston Indians will hold their annual Hot Stove Banquet tonight at the Hampton Inn on U.S. 70.

Speakers include K-Tribe Chairman Cam McRae, President and General Manager North Johnson, Carolina League President John Hopkins, Mayor Johnnie Mosley and Chairman of the Mayor's Committee, Chester Stocks.

New K-Tribe manager Torey Lovullo and Cleveland Indians Director of Minor League Operations John Farrell will also address those in attendance about the organization for the upcoming season.

Kinston resident and former Negro League great Carl Long will be enshrined into the Kinston Indians Hall of Fame, something which Johnson expressed as a reason for all of Lenoir County to be excited about.

"Carl's a true trailblazer," said Johnson. "A trailblazer in every aspect of the word, not just in what he did for baseball in Kinston, but what he has done and continues to do for the city in so many ways."

Long, who made his debut in the Negro Leagues with the Philadelphia Stars at age 15, is also scheduled to speak. The South Carolina native later achieved a high level of success playing the outfield for the legendary Birmingham Black Barons.

Long eventually broke the color barrier, becoming the first black player to play for the Kinston Eagles in the late 1950's before a shoulder injury cut his career short.

"It's an honor, no doubt about it," said Long. "It's been a long time coming and I never thought it'd ever come. North (Johnson) is quite a guy and I owe everything to him."

Tonight's banquet and celebration is scheduled to begin at 7. Tickets for the event are sold out.

Chris Kline can be reached at (252) 527-3191, Ext. 235 or Chris_Kline@link.freedom.com