MACON, Ga. (MERCER RELEASE) – Mercer baseball head coach Craig Gibson announced that former 17-time MLB All-Star and three-time World Series Champion Pete Rose will serve as the keynote speaker at the 2014 "First Pitch Classic" on Tuesday, February 4 at Hawkins Arena.
The sixth annual "First Pitch Classic" serves as a kick-off to the Bears 2014 season, with all proceeds from the event benefiting the Mercer baseball program. The dinner begins at 7 p.m. on the main arena floor, preceded by an autograph session in the Presidents Dining Room starting at 5:30 p.m.
This year's banquet is once again sponsored by Macon Occupational Medicine and its Chief Executive Officer Leonard Bevill. Rose continues a tradition of renowned guest speakers to appear at Mercer's "First Pitch Classic" event. Former speakers at the dinner include Major League Baseball stars Jeff Francoeur, Gordon Beckham, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones and last year's featured guest Dale Murphy.
"I would like to thank Macon Occupational Medicine for their continued support in helping us bring baseball legend Pete Rose to Mercer," Gibson said. "We have had some phenomenal speakers at this event in the past, but the chance to host Pete Rose at our event this year is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we simply couldn't pass up."
A 24-year MLB veteran and the last player-manager in MLB history, Rose is one of the most accomplished players in the history of the game. Known as "Charlie Hustle" for his hard-charging style when he played, Rose retired as a player from professional baseball in 1986 and still holds the MLB all-time records for career hits (4,256), career singles (3,215), career at-bats (14,053) and career games played (3,562). Signed right out of high school by his hometown Cincinnati Reds, Rose made his major league debut in 1963 and hit .273 that season to take home National League Rookie of the Year honors. Over the course of his career, Rose won three National League Batting Titles (1968, 1969 and 1973), two Gold Glove awards (1969 and 1970), an NL MVP (1973) and a World Series MVP (1975). As a testament to his versatility, Rose, who retired with a lifetime batting average of .303, is still the only player in MLB history to play more than 500 games at five different positions (1B, LF, 3B, 2B and RF).
"Obviously Pete's baseball resumes speaks for itself and his accomplishments on the playing field are unparalleled," Gibson said. "I think it will be very beneficial for the Middle Georgia community to hear what Pete has to say. I can't think of a better way to officially kick-off our 2014 season and to recognize our team and nine great seniors."
Tickets for the autograph session and dinner are sold as separate events. Tickets for the autograph session are $75 per person and are limited to the first 150 participants, while tickets for the dinner are $100 per person.