MANCHESTER, N.H. – After going virtual in 2020, the Granite State Baseball Dinner hosted by the New Hampshire Fisher Cats returned to a packed house at the Doubletree by Hilton Downtown Manchester on Saturday night.
Major League Baseball all-time hits leader Pete Rose highlighted a panel of retired baseball greats such such as Rich Gedman, Luis Tiant, Rico Petrocelli, Bernie Carbo and Dick Drago as well as a moment to honor 2021 Fisher Cat Chavez Young as the 2021 Fisher Cats Community Service Award Winner.
Denny McClain, who in 1968 became the last pitcher to win 30 games, was a late addition to panel, reminiscing over memories with his fellow former players and the almost 800 members of the audience.
“It was an extraordinary night,” said McClain. “We shared many secrets, some known and some discovered, but all great stories that really felt like it put you back into the game.”
Since 2006, the event has raised almost $2 million for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats Foundation, Ted Williams Foundation and Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth, with totals raised from this year’s event to be announced in coming days as the Fisher Cats staff now prepares for their annual Thanksgiving Day 5K.
“It was great to be back,” said New Hampshire Fisher Cats Director of Special Events Stephanie Fournier, who noted that attendance was at 2019 levels. “There was an extra buzz in the air this year with Pete Rose. We loved seeing everyone return to this great event.”
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu shared baseball memories of his own, such as when he met Wade Boggs and Carl Yastremski as a 9-year-old boy in the exact same room in 1983. Sununu also praised the Fisher Cats and held them up as an example of why New Hampshire has recovered better from the COVID-19 pandemic better than many other states, noting how the Fisher Cats Foundation has been able to help those in need in past years and the state was able to help the Fisher Cats during their cancelled season in 2020.
“(New Hampshire is) so different than most states because we rely on these community connections,” said Sununu. “Organizations and events like these that put those dollars forward make all the difference in the world.”