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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Flowers has his own cheering section

Taking in the action at the Fike-Triton 3-A playoff baseball game are former Fike players Robin Rose, center, and Dennis Wilkerson, right, along with Jerry Rose, left.
Following his team's 3-0 defeat of Erwin Triton in the second round of the state 3-A baseball playoffs, Fike head coach Will Flowers called a few of his players over to meet a couple of guys they had probably never heard of.

While current Demons Bentley Massey and Jacob Davis might not have been aware of who they were, the sight of Flowers standing alongside his former teammates Robin Rose and Dennis Wilkerson was a treat for me.

Those names are recognizable to anyone familiar with Fike baseball in the early 1970s. Wilkerson, Rose and Flowers all played for Gilbert Ferrell in 1972.

Wilkerson, now a Wilmington resident, is best known for his feats on the football field. He is one of three Fike players to achieve All-America status, doing so in his senior season in 1971. One of five brothers who left their marks on Wilson sports, Wilkerson was a standout on the basketball court and baseball diamond. He is a member of the Fike High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Rose, graduated in 1973, a year behind Flowers and Wilkerson, Rose's first cousin. He played at Louisburg College and was an NAIA All-American at Atlantic Christian (now Barton) College. Now living in Cary, Rose is a member of the Barton sports hall of fame. Rose and Flowers were teammates at Atlantic Christian.

I grew up reading about them playing for Fike and AC. Rose grew up across the street from me on Thurston Drive, not far from Wilkerson's house on Third Street.They were both physical education student-teachers at Vinson-Bynum Elementary School and me and some of my buddies would go to Fleming Stadium to watch them play way back in the wood-bat era.

There's at least a touch of gray on the heads of all three men but I could easily picture Rose firing a tennis ball at Flowers holding a bat in front of the bricks of the Rose home, as I saw them do so many times way back when Richard Nixon was president.

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