Robert “Rabbit” Fulghum 2016
James Robert “Rabbit” Fulghum has a long list of accomplishments, accolades, and Hall of Fame inductions that have made him a legend in the sport of baseball in the state of North Carolina.
A native of Rock Ridge – also the hometown of former Gov. Jim Hunt – he was the second of eight children born to Rayford and Bettie Mae Fulghum. He played baseball and basketball in high school and was coached by his lifetime role model, Onnie Cockrell.
Following high school, “Rabbit” – so nicknamed by his high school coaches because of his quickness – attended Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College), where he was the starting catcher on the Bulldogs’ baseball team. His first teaching job after college was at North Edgecombe High School in 1961, where he coached junior varsity and varsity girls’ basketball, plus boys’ varsity basketball in addition to baseball.
Fulghum successfully led the boys’ basketball team to the district tournament championship game, where it was beaten on a last-second shot. The following season – it was 1962-63 – North Edgecombe got its revenge, winning the state championship to cap a remarkable 30-1 record.
In August 1964, Fulghum moved to the Greene County community of Snow Hill, where he continued his thriving coaching career at Greene Central High School. There he coached many of the Rams’ teams: girls’ basketball and softball and boys’ basketball and baseball. He also served as athletics director for 38 years.
It was in Snow Hill where “Rabbit” Fulghum truly made a name for himself. The Rams won five state baseball championships under his watchful eye, and in 1973 he helped start an American Legion baseball team in Greene County.
A legend in eastern North Carolina, Fulghum is a member of numerous halls of fame: George Whitfield Baseball Clinic Hall of Fame; American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame; Barton College Hall of Fame; United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA); and North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA). Further, in 2007 he was inducted into the North Carolina Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame; and in 2013, he was selected as one of the “One Hundred Coaches Who Have Made a Difference” in commemoration of the NCHSAA’s 100th year anniversary.
Fulghum is married to his supportive wife, Janette, and they are the loving parents of three children. Son James “Jabo” learned to love the game of baseball as a result of the influence of his father’s successful career and today serves as the head baseball coach and athletics director at Eastern Wayne High School in Wayne County. Daughter Jackie Fulghum Music is director of home-based services at Vidant Home Health & Hospice in Greenville. Their third child, Joy, died from a brain tumor at the age of six, but Fulghum attributes much of his inspiration to his daughter, whom “taught me how to live each day to the fullest.”
Additionally, the Fulghums have two grandsons, Macon and Colton, both of whom chose to play high school baseball, and two granddaughters, Brynn and Kaelyn, each of whom share their grandfather’s love of “ball” as well.