EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State baseball will hold its 14th Annual First Pitch Dinner on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. Tickets are on sale for the event, which will begin at 6 p.m. with a silent auction and player autographs. Dinner and a formal program will follow at 7 p.m.
This year's event will feature Major League Baseball 1997 World Series Champion manager Jim Leyland as the keynote speaker while honoring Jay Gooding as the Alumnus of the Year.
Leyland was an MLB manager for 21 years, winning the World Series in 1997 with the Florida Marlins. He won four division titles, including three-straight with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1990, 1991 and 1992). In 2006, Leyland led the Detroit Tigers to the American League Championship Series, becoming the seventh manager in MLB history to win pennants in both the National and American Leagues. Leyland was a three-time recipient of the Manager of the Year Award, twice in the National League with the Pirates in 1990 and 1992, and once in the American League with the Tigers in 2006.
A native of Perrysburg, Ohio, Leyland played seven seasons in the Tigers' minor leagues from 1964-70, before beginning his coaching career. After serving as an assistant and minor league manager in the Tigers organization, Leyland was named the Pirates manager from 1986 to 1996. Leyland then took over the Florida Marlins from 1997 to 1998, winning the 1997 World Series. After resigning from the Marlins after the 1998 season, Leyland took over the Colorado Rockies for the 1999 season. He later was named manager of the Detroit Tigers from 2006 to 2013, leading the Tigers to three consecutive division titles, joining Tony La Russa as the only managers to lead two different MLB franchises to three-straight division titles. Leyland retired from the Tigers after the 2013 season.
Leyland currently serves as a special assistant to the Detroit Tigers and managed the United States national baseball team to the 2017 World Baseball Classic title. He became the only manager to win a World Series and a World Baseball Classic title.
Gooding is an MSU alum and was co-founder of Aqua Pharmaceuticals. He was instrumental in various Spartan Baseball projects including the infield heating project at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field, renovation of the team locker room, Dominican Republic trip and lights at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field.
The 2019 MSU Baseball First Pitch Dinner will feature a silent auction, door prizes, player autographs, a team poster, 2019 season ticket card and special tribute to the Annual Crosstown Showdown between the Spartans and Lansing Lugnuts.
Tickets for the First Pitch Dinner range in price from $15 per person for children and students (8th grade and under), $25 for college students (with student ID), $40 for Spartan baseball alumni and $50 each for adults. Sponsored tables of eight are also available.
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