JONESBORO, Ark. (2/13/18) – The Arkansas State baseball program held the 16th annual “Grand Slam Banquet” Tuesday night, Feb. 13 in front of a capacity crowd at First National Bank Arena.
The event began with fans getting a chance to participate in a silent auction that featured an array of items including A-State apparel, memorabilia from current and past MLB stars, food, household items, and much more. Fans were then treated to a fantastic meal, courtesy of Gene Vance and Bistro on the Ridge.
The function continued with the 2018 Red Wolves being introduced on the arena’s video boards with their respective “walk up” music playing in the background. Head coach Tommy Raffo then awarded the John Knight Baseball Mangers’ Scholarship to Drew Kilgore, Brandon Little, and Lucas Young.
Master of Ceremonies and A-State baseball play-by-play announcer Matt Stolz kept the program moving along as Raffo led the live auction. A Stan “The Man” Musial autographed Hall of Fame baseball and Hall of Fame autographed bat was the first item before a Stan Musial autographed jersey and Mickey Mantle “#7” autographed baseball were also auctioned off. All three items were donated by Phil Ford.
At the conclusion of the live auction, the Ed Way Heart and Hustle Award, in memory of the late Ed Way, was presented to senior pitcher Bryan Ayers by Way’s son, Phillip, daughter Mary Catherine, and wife, Dianna.
The night concluded with a speech by the former Major League pitcher Lee Smith. Smith, who ranks third on MLB’s all-time saves list with 478, participated in a question and answer session with Stolz. He touched on a number of subjects including how he began to play baseball, being drafted, his first major league appearance, and a host of other topics he experienced during his 18-year career.
Smith signed autographs before the event in a special reception and also stayed afterwards to sign autographs for even more fans. The A-State baseball team’s seniors presented gifts to Smith, Vance, and gave fans a chance to sign a door that represents the team’s mantra this season of “Kick It Down” to finish off the event.
A-State opens the 2018 season later this week on Friday, Feb. 16 as the Red Wolves welcome Illinois State to town for a three-game series. Friday’s first pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Tomlinson Stadium, while Saturday’s game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. The series finale is set for Sunday at 1 p.m.
For the latest on A-State baseball follow the team by logging onto the Arkansas State Baseball Facebook page or by following the team on Twitter (@ASTATEBaseball) and Instagram (arkansasstatebaseball).