‘El Tiante,’ Holt, Carpenter on deck for 2014 Granite State Baseball Dinner

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Granite State Baseball Dinner
Granite State Baseball Dinner

MANCHESTER, NH – The New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Fisher Cats Foundation have confirmed the first group of guests for the 2014 Granite State Baseball Dinner, presented by Northeast Delta Dental. This year’s fundraising event will be held on the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving, November 22, at 5 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Expo Center in Manchester. Tickets are $80 and can be purchased via this link. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD), the Ted Williams Foundation, and the Fisher Cats Foundation.

Headlining the introductory guest list is Red Sox super-utility player Brock Holt, who is having a breakout season. He’s displayed stellar defense at seven positions on the diamond while producing a .300 average since his call-up in May. He’ll be joined by New Hampshire legend and former Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter, who is enjoying his first full season of retirement.

This year’s guest list also includes Claudia Williams, the daughter of the greatest hitter who ever lived, Ted Williams, and author of the book, Ted Williams, My Father: A Memoir. Four-time MLB All-Star and three-time World Series Champion Dwight ‘Doc’ Gooden and beloved former Red Sox pitcher Luis ‘El Tiante’ Tiant will be there, as will former big leaguers Lou Merloni, Rich Gedman, Bob Stanley, and Jesse Litsch, and current Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb. The last 30-gamae winner in the major leagues, Denny McLain, will return to the dinner along with fellow major league alumni Jim Beattie and Richie Scheinblum. Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand and Portsmouth native Michael Fransoso is coming back as is the 2014 Miss New Hampshire, Megan Cooley.

“This is one of the most anticipated announcements our team and Foundation makes every year,” said Art Solomon, Fisher Cats owner and chairman of the Fisher Cats Foundation. “We are coming off our most successful dinner yet, surpassing the $1 million mark in total fundraising, and this group of introductory guests features new faces and returning favorites to ensure we all will have a good time as we support the work of three outstanding charities.”

Tickets for this year’s event are $80 and will go on sale in two stages. Fisher Cats season ticket holders can obtain preferred seating through an exclusive presale opportunity beginning Friday, September 5, at 9 a.m. Tickets will be available to the general public beginning the following Monday, September 8, at 9 a.m. Tickets may be purchased at the Fisher Cats Ticket office, by visiting www.nhfishercats.com, and by calling 603-641-2005.

Doors to the event will open at 5 p.m. with a silent auction and an autograph session with the honored guests from 5-7 p.m. The dinner and the evening’s program will begin at 7 p.m.

The primary benefactor of the dinner is the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD). CHaD, New Hampshire’s comprehensive, full-service children’s hospital, is committed to providing outstanding compassionate care for children and their families. Offering primary, specialty, and tertiary care to the children of New Hampshire, Vermont, and beyond, our focus includes keeping ALL kids healthy and safe.

The Ted Williams Foundation works to preserve and build on the rich tradition of our national pastime through education and outreach. Proceeds from the Granite State Baseball Dinner are instrumental in the Foundation’s mission to provide youth baseball programs and scholarships for deserving student-athletes. The Foundation is also an active partner with community organizations, providing assistance to several charitable groups, including the Boys & Girls Club, the Children’s Dream Fund, and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

The New Hampshire Fisher Cats established the Fisher Cats Foundation to be a catalyst for the betterment of communities statewide by supporting youth programs that encourage education and promote healthy living. Through the generous support of players, employees, sponsors, and fans, the Fisher Cats Foundation continuously works to make a positive impact throughout New Hampshire and north central Massachusetts. As the primary funding source for the team’s philanthropy, the Fisher Cats Foundation supports a wide variety of non-profit organizations and coordinates several fundraising programs and events. Since its inception in 2006, the Foundation and the Fisher Cats have provided more than $3.5 million in monetary and in-kind donations to over 4,000 non-profit organizations.

“Baseball fans of practically every generation will find a familiar name at this year’s event,” added Rick Brenner, Fisher Cats president. “From new stars like Brock Holt to legends like Chris Carpenter, Doc Gooden, and ‘El Tiante’, we can’t wait to hear new stories and create new memories for hundreds of baseball fans on November 22.”


 

Brock Holt hadn’t earned much ink in the press prior to taking the American League by storm in 2014. He began this season in Triple-A Pawtucket, but found himself in Boston – for good – in May. He quickly garnered fan-favorite status after proving to be an asset on the field by playing every position except for pitcher and catcher. He has hovered around the .300-mark all season while showcasing a devil-may-care attitude on defense. Holt was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the ninth round during the 2009 MLB draft. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in December 2012 along with Joel Hanrahan.

There aren’t many accolades that Chris Carpenter didn’t earn in his playing career. One of the most dominating pitchers of this generation, he ended his 15-year career just prior to last year’s Granite State Baseball Dinner. Over those seasons, he battled a host of arm injuries, but still won 144 games, including 21 during his 2005 National League Cy Young campaign with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was a three-game All-Star and finished in the top three in Cy Young voting on three occasions. He was also one of the marquee playoff performers of the past decade winning 10 games and posting a 3.00 ERA over 18 starts. He was at his best when the money was on the table with a 3-0 record and sparkling 2.00 ERA in the World Series. The Raymond native was the Toronto Blue Jays’ first-round pick, 15th overall, in 1993 out of Manchester’s Trinity High School.

Nicknamed ‘Doc’ and ‘Dr. K’, Dwight Gooden took major league baseball by storm in the mid-eighties with the New York Mets. He burst onto the scene as a raw 19-year-old in 1984, winning 17 games and leading the National League in strikeouts en route to a Rookie of the Year Award, an All-Star nod, and a second-place Cy Young finish. He was even better a year later with 24 wins, a 1.53 ERA, and nearly 300 innings to finish atop the Cy Young balloting. Over 16 seasons with the Mets, Yankees, Indians, Devil Rays and Astros, he made four All-Star teams, won three World Series rings, and threw a no-hitter.

Luis Tiant, known as ‘El Tiante, was one of the most dominant, durable pitchers of his generation. Over 19 seasons, he dazzled line-ups with his overpowering stuff and unique wind-up. A three-time All-Star, he starred for the Red Sox from 1971-78, perhaps making his biggest impact for the 1975 American League Champions. He won 18 games that year in the regular season, a modest total for him, but shined brightest during the Red Sox trip to the World Series. He earned wins over Oakland in the ALCS before shutting down the Reds with complete games in the opener and fourth game of the World Series. He was the starting pitcher, who ultimately took a no-decision, in Game 6 of that year’s series thanks to Carlton Fisk‘s dramatic game-winning walk-off home run in the 12th inning.

Denny McLain may very well be the last major league pitcher to ever win 30 games in a single season, a feat he accomplished in 1968 with the Detroit Tigers at the age of 24. He posted a 31-6 record, a 1.96 ERA, and an astounding 28 complete games that year, winning both the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards. He followed it up with a 24-win campaign and another Cy Young the following season. The ten-year major leaguer ended his career with 131 wins, 29 shutouts, and 105 complete games, pitching mostly for the Tigers.

Lou Merloni is another local boy who ‘made good’ in the New England baseball community. From Framingham, Mass., Merloni played eight seasons in the major leagues, the first six of them with the Red Sox. A lifetime .271 hitter, he debuted with Boston in 1998 before finishing his career with the Indians and Angels. A well-rounded player, Merloni could play virtually any position on the diamond, appearing in games at every field position other than center field and catcher. There was never a doubt when Merloni came to the plate as fans would serenade him with a long, droning chant of ‘LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUU’ during every at-bat.

Rich Gedman returns to the dinner after another season as the hitting coach for the Portland Sea Dogs. Gedman began a 13-year career in 1980 with the Red Sox, and was twice named an American League All-Star in 1985-86. He was the man who replaced Hall-of-Famer Carlton Fisk in Boston and went on to become a .292 hitter over a pair of postseasons. The Massachusetts native was also a teammate with 2013 Fisher Cats skipper Gary Allenson. He finished his career with the Cardinals and Astros.

Bob Stanley is a former right-handed relief pitcher with the Boston Red Sox. He is currently the bullpen coach for the Toronto Blue Jays. Stanley was a first-round pick of the Red Sox in 1974 and played his entire 13-year career, 1977-89, with the team. A sinker ball specialist, Stanley was the club’s all-time saves leader with 132 until Jonathan Papelbon passed him on July 1, 2009. Known to most fans as ‘The Steamer,’ he is the Red Sox’ all-time leader in appearances with 637 and is a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame. His best season came in 1983 when he led the Sox with 33 saves and posted a 2.45 ERA.

Jim Beattie has had a successful career on two fronts in major league baseball. He had a nine year major league career, the first two with the Yankees and the final seven with the Mariners. He was drafted in the 4th round in 1975 by the Yankees, and finished his career with 52 wins, including 22 between the 1983 and 1984 seasons with Seattle. After his playing career, the South Portland, Maine native and Dartmouth College grad served as the general manager of the Montreal Expos from 1995-2001 and as co-general manager for the Orioles with Manchester native Mike Flanagan from 2003-2005. He is currently a scout for the Blue Jays.

Richie Scheinblum was signed as an amateur free agent by the Indians in 1964, and made his debut with the team the following September. He played for six teams over an eight year major league career, half of them with Cleveland. He was an All-Star in 1972 with the Kansas City Royals when he batted .300 on the season. After ending his major league career ended in 1974 with St. Louis, he played two years in Japan.

Alex Cobb has been a vital part of the success of the Tampa Bay Rays since his rookie year in 2011. Over the course of his short career, his results continue to improve as he becomes the leader of a young Rays’ staff. He won 11 games in 2012 and 2013, surviving a scary incident when he took a line drive off the side of his head in the latter season. He is currently 8-6 with the Rays while averaging nearly one strikeout per inning.

A former Fisher Cat,  Jesse Litsch was drafted in the 24th round of the 2004 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He appeared with the Fisher Cats in 2007 posting a 7-2 record and 2.35 ERA. He won a combined 20 games as a staple of the Blue Jays rotation in 2007-08, then fought through several serious injuries to keep a spot on the major league roster. He threw a career-high 28 games in 2011, winning six between the rotation and bullpen. He recently announced his official retirement.

Claudia Williams is the daughter of Red Sox legend and Baseball Hall of Famer, Ted Williams. Earlier this summer, she released Ted Williams, My Father: A Memoir in honor of her late father. Williams lives in Florida and has just finished nursing school.

Michael Fransoso is coming off his first full season in the minor leagues after the Pirates made him a 27thround draft pick in 2013. He has split the 2014 season between the Short-Season A Jamestown Jammers and the West Virgina Power of the Class A South Atlantic League. In 74 total games, the infielder is hitting .248 with 6 homers, six triples, and 24 runs batted in.

Megan Cooley was crowned the newest Miss New Hampshire back in May. A native of Auburn, she is an outstanding singer, wowing the judges and the crowd with ‘On My Way’ during this year’s Miss New Hampshire Pageant. Her platform is ‘Championing Abilities,’ a message she’ll take to the Miss American Pageant in September.

For more information about the charitable Granite State Baseball Dinner, presented by Northeast Delta Dental, please contact Fisher Cats Director of Marketing & Public Affairs Jenna Raizes at (603) 606-4177 or visit www.nhfishercats.com. Corporate sponsorships are also available. Opening Day 2015 is Thursday, April 9 against the New Britain Rock Cats at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. Full and half-season tickets and a complete 2015 schedule are available by visiting www.nhfishercats.com.

 

About Carol Robidoux 5505 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.