Whitehead receives Trot Nixon ‘Gamer’ Award|ECU star honored during banquet

Published 7:05 pm Tuesday, January 26, 2010

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
WILSON — Fans who know Trent Whitehead know that the East Carolina baseball player isn’t afraid to get dirty. Or to run into a wall. Or, heck, over a wall.
It’s that type of effort and determination that led to Whitehead earning the Trot Nixon “Gamer” Award at the Wilson Hot Stove Banquet, held Monday night at the Wilson County Shrine Club. Whitehead, a former star with the Washington Pam Pack, said he was honored to receive the award from Nixon.
“I’m honored to get it,” said Whitehead, who was joined at the banquet by his parents, A.G. and Karen Whitehead, sister, Kristen Whitehead, and aunt and uncle, Valerie and Doug Whitehead.
“This is a big-time award,” Whitehead said. “I’m honored that Trot Nixon and the Wilson Hot Stove presented this to me. I’m really proud to get this award.”
Nixon had a successful baseball career, most notably with the Boston Red Sox. A first-round selection in the 1993 MLB Draft, Nixon was a .274 career hitter with 137 homers and 555 RBIs.
Now retired from baseball, Nixon spent the majority of his professional career with the Red Sox, but also had stints with the Cleveland Indians and New York Mets.
“I tried to play the game with a passion and give everything I had,” Nixon said. “I gave it 100 percent out there on the field. I just got the nickname (“Gamer”) from an opposing team’s player and it kind of stuck.
“It was great to be thought of as a player like that amongst your peers. It caught on with the Red Sox fans.”
Nixon said he was proud to present the award to Whitehead.
“I’m proud of Trent and of all the recipients that get it,” Nixon said. “I’m just honored to be able to give out an award like this.”
Whitehead, who was named to the All-Conference USA second team and was a C-USA All-Tournament selection, is coming off a sensational sophomore season. The ECU leadoff hitter had a single-season record 105 hits (ranked fourth nationally).
He hit .376 with seven home runs, 47 RBIs, 24 doubles (ranked 17th nationally), 78 runs scored (ranked 12th nationally) and 10 stolen bases.
ECU baseball coach Billy Godwin was happy Whitehead earned the award.
“This is outstanding,” Godwin said. “When they called me and started to tell me the nature of the award, and when they said, ‘gamer,’ I said, ‘that’s perfect.’ I’ve been in this game 24 years and I don’t think I’ve ever coached a kid that loves to play and plays as hard as (Whitehead) does.
“It’s well deserved. The fact that he had a great year is even better.”
Alex White, a former star at D.H. Conley and North Carolina, earned the Gaylor Perry Amateur Pitching Award. White was a first-round pick of the Cleveland Indians in the last MLB Draft.
“This is a great honor,” White said. “I’m just happy to be here with my family. It’s just a big honor for us to be here and to accept this type of award.”
White was named to three All-America teams and picked up the Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year award.
Landon Powell, who was born in Raleigh, played at the University of South Carolina and was a first-round pick of the Oakland A’s, was the featured speaker.
Powell spoke about overcome adversity to reach his dream of playing professional baseball. He said the key was following God’s path, and his favorite verse is from Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be.”
Powell received a standing ovation after his moving speech.