Braves Legend John Smoltz to Headline First Pitch Classic
MACON, Ga. – Mercer baseball head coach Craig Gibson has announced that former Atlanta Braves standout and current Peachtree TV color analyst John Smoltz will serve as the featured speaker for the third annual First Pitch Classic to be held on Jan. 31, 2011.
The event serves as a kick-off to the Bears 2011 season and will be held in Mercer's University Center. The dinner begins at 7 p.m., preceded by an autograph session starting at 6:00 p.m.
This year's banquet is being sponsored by Macon Occupational Medicine and is also the second time that a former Atlanta Braves player has come to speak at the Classic. In 2009, former Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur came to Macon for the inaugural celebration of the event. Former Georgia Bulldog and current Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham headlined last year's event.
"When you think of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball history, John Smoltz is one of the first people that comes to mind," Gibson said. "For us to be able to have him come down to this event and help us open our 2011 season is a very special honor."
An eight-time All-Star selection and 1996 NL Cy Young Award winner, Smoltz was a 21-year Major League Baseball veteran who pitched for the Cardinals, Red Sox and most notably the Braves. He is the only pitcher in MLB history to record both 200 wins and 150 saves over a career and one of only 16 players in baseball history to record 3,000 strikeouts. A native of Warren, Michigan, Smoltz was drafted in the 22nd round of the 1985 MLB Draft and made his MLB debut with the Braves on July 23, 1988. Smoltz helped the Braves to 14-consecutive National League East Division titles and a 1995 World Series Championship.
"John is not only one of the best pitchers in baseball history, but he is also a great person who gives so much to the community and I think his message will really resonate with all who attend," said Gibson.
Tickets for the autograph session and the dinner are sold as separate events. Tickets for the autograph session are $100, while tickets for the dinner are $75 per person. All proceeds benefit the Mercer baseball program.
For more information on the event or to make a reservation, please contact Mercer graduate assistant coach Eddie Burns, at (478) 301-2738 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.