My good friend Wes Bradshaw and I were talking the other day and he remarked "imagine if the sons of Sonny Wooten, Ricky Joyner and Bill Merrified had gone to Rocky Mount, how many more state titles they might have won!"
That comment came after he had just left one of East Carolina's weekend baseball games with visiting South Carolina - where all three sons had spots in the dugouts.
Ironically, all three daddies earned state titles for the Gryphons. But sadly for RMHS, none of these guys decided to live in Rocky Mount.
Wooten was a stalwart for the 1973 squad that won a title for Jerry Carter. Merrifield and Joyner played for the George Kelley-coached 1980 team that claimed the 4-A state crown.
Now their sons, all three all-state performers in high school, are at the college level.
John Wooten, who led the state in home runs coming out of Eastern Wayne last year, is a freshman starter for the Pirates and currently leads them in home runs. Tyler Joyner, who piled up 30 wins hurling for the Northern Nash Knights, is in ECU's bullpen as a freshman.
Whit Merrifield, named for one of his dad's best friends, former Gryphon standout athlete Dee Whitley, is a junior outfielder for the Gamecocks, has been one of USC's most consistent performers the last two seasons. He played at Davie County.
I really shudder to think If their wives had made these dadies stay in Rocky Mount!
(Pictured, top to bottom, John Wooten, Tyler Joyner, Whit Merrifield)