Granite State Baseball Dinner starting line-up announced

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GRANITE STATE BASEBALL DINNER 2015

Cecil Fielder, Scott McGregor, Bob Stanley, Oliver Drake, Victoria Arlen, Willie Horton, Rich Gedman, and Dwier Brown are on deck to attend the annual charitable dinner.


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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 2015 Granite State Baseball Dinner, presented by Northeast Delta Dental.  This year’s fundraising event will be held on Saturday, November 21, at 5 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Expo Center in Manchester.  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 New Hampshire legend and former Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter, who had his No. 29 retired by the Fisher Cats on Sept. 2.  He’ll be joined by red-hot Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., and former home run champion Cecil Fielder.

In addition to the aforementioned greats, the head table will feature several new and returning favorites to what is the state’s largest fundraising dinner of its kind.  The roster includes Fisher Cats pitching coach and former Red Sox pitcher, Bob Stanley, and his former battery mate in Boston, Rich Gedman.  Two Orioles will flock to Manchester – former starter Scott McGregor and current reliever and Worcester, Mass. native Oliver Drake.  Tigers veteran Willie Horton will also appear for his first Granite State Baseball Dinner.

Paralympic gold medalist Victoria Arlen, an Exeter native who wowed last year’s dinner crowd, is coming back for this year’s edition.  Author and actor Dwier Brown, best known for his role as the father in classic movie, Field of Dreams, will make his dinner debut.

“After months of planning behind the scenes, we are excited to announce this first list of guests coming to this year’s dinner,” said Art Solomon, Fisher Cats owner and chairman of the Fisher Cats Foundation.  “We are so thankful to have such great community-minded partners who make this even so successful each year.  We can’t wait to have a good time with our favorite guests while also welcoming in some new faces that will ensure we all have a good time as we support the work of three outstanding charities.”

Tickets are available now 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 $4 million in monetary and in-kind donations to thousands of non-profit organizations.

Chris Carpenter‘s impact on New Hampshire and, in particular, this dinner, is beyond measure.  He has attended every year since the Blue Jays drafted him in the first round of the 1993 draft out of Trinity High School.  He kept coming when he made the major leagues in Toronto, and then really took off when moving to the National League’s St. Louis Cardinals.  A Cy Young Award and two World Series Championships followed with the Cardinals, but he still finds himself at the head table each year. Over 15 years, he won 144 games, plus another ten in the postseason.  He’s a big reason this dinner has donated more than $1.28 million to charity since 2007.  The continued support of his home state led the Fisher Cats to retire his No. 29 at the end of the 2015 season.

Jackie Bradly Jr., has put together an All-Star worthy finish to the 2015 season.  After dominating Triple-A pitching for the majority of the season, he’s been one of the hottest hitters in baseball since Aug. 1.  His .339 average since that day was highlighted by the .424 mark he hit during the month-long window from Aug. 6-Sept. 7.  Memorable games include five extra-base hits and 7 RBI on Aug. 15 and a four-hit, four-RBI gem on Sept. 7.  Overall, in 54 games, he’s batting .285 with 26 extra-base hits while also playing his usual Gold Glove-caliber defense in the outfield.

Cecil Fielder spent 13 years playing in the major leagues, the majority of those with the Detroit Tigers. One of the most feared power hitters from the 1980’s and 90’s, Fielder launched 319 career home runs, highlighted by a 51-homer campaign in 1990.  He was a three-time All-Star and won two Silver Slugger Awards with the Tigers, and he won the 1996 World Series with the Yankees.  He also played for the Blue Jays, Anaheim Angels, and Cleveland Indians.

One of the most popular guests at last year’s dinner, Victoria Arlen has quite the story.  She is paralyzed after being diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis and Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis at the age of 11.  An active swimmer as a child, she was in a semi-comatose state for nearly four years before she began to beat the odds.  Beginning with the modest act of blinking her eyes in 2009, she battled over the next three years to become a gold medal winner at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.  She has four Paralympic medals and is an 11-time Pan American and 12-time American swimming record holder.  In addition to modeling, acting, and serving as a motivational speaker, she reported for ESPN this summer at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.

A veteran dinner guest, Bob Stanley comes to dinner for the first time as the Fisher Cats pitching coach.  ‘The Steamer’ spent his entire 13-year career with the Boston Red Sox after being drafted by the organization as a first-round pick in 1974. Stanley led the Red Sox as the all-time saves leader with 132 before Jonathan Papelbon broke the record in 2009. Steamer has been a member of the Red Sox hall of fame since 2000. He currently holds the record as the Red Sox all-time leader in appearances with 637 and relief wins. In his first season guiding Fisher Cats pitchers, the team allowed the second-fewest walks in the Eastern League, a point of emphasis for Stanley.

Scott McGregor, a first round pick by the New York Yankees in 1972, pitched his entire 13-year Major League career with the Baltimore Orioles, winning 138 games, including a career-high 20 in 1980. He was a member of two Orioles World Series teams, losing in 1979 to the Pittsburgh Pirates before defeating Philadelphia for the title in 1983. In that championship season, McGregor was 18-7 with a career-low 3.18 ERA, and finished sixth in the American League Cy Young Award voting.

Oliver Drake hails from Worcester, Mass., and is currently pitching in the Baltimore Orioles’ bullpen.  The first-time dinner guest spent the majority of the season dominating for Triple-A Norfolk, posting a 1-2 record and a 0.82 ERA in 42 appearances.  A 43rd round draft pick in 2008, Drake beat the odds stacked against him by making his major league debut earlier this year on May 23.

Dwier Brown is best known for his acting and, in particular, his role in the 1989 film Field of Dreams where he played the part of John Kinsella, Ray Kinsella’s dad, on the big screen. Brown’s has been acting for more than 35 years, appearing in films, plays, and television shows. Brown also wrote a memoir titled, “If You Build It” about fathers and baseball.

Willie Horton was the longtime left fielder and designated hitter who enjoyed a lengthy career with six different major league clubs, including the Tigers. He hit 20 or more home runs in seven seasons during his career. His best season came in 1968 when he finished second in the American League with 36 home runs for the champion Tigers. During his 18-season career, Horton batted .273 and racked up 1993 hits, including 325 home runs.

After being drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1977, Rich Gedman debuted with the club as a twenty-one year old in 1980.  A year later, the Mass. native was named “The Sporting News” Rookie of the Year.  Gedman was known for his sound defense with .984 fielding percentage.  The two-time All-Star is now a hitting coach in the Red Sox’ minor league system.

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 2016 is Thursday, April 14 against the Trenton Thunder at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. Full and Half-Season Tickets and a complete 2016 schedule are available by visiting www.nhfishercats.com.


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About Carol Robidoux 5476 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.