MANCHESTER, N.H. - The New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, have confirmed the next batch of guests for the 2013 Granite State Baseball Dinner, presented by Northeast Delta Dental. Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes will headline this year's event on Saturday, Nov. 23, at 5 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Expo Center in Manchester. He will be joined by new guests including Fisher Cats shortstop and Nashua native Kevin Nolan, Miss New Hampshire Samantha Russo, and former major league outfielder Ron LeFlore.
The quartet of guests joins a star-studded panel to raise money to benefit the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD), the Ted Williams Museum, and the Fisher Cats Foundation. Since 2007, the event has raised more than $950,000, and will surpass the $1 million mark at this year's dinner.
Gomes was signed to a two-year deal by the Red Sox during the offseason and has been a key cog on the rebirth of the team with the best record in the major leagues. A native Californian, Gomes was one of the first to sport wild facial hair on this version of the bearded Sox. In 110 games this season, Gomes is hitting .239 with 12 homers and 49 runs batted in.
More important, perhaps, than the on-field numbers is Jonny's presence in the clubhouse. Routinely praised as one of the 'good guys' in the game, Gomes has made a habit of playing on winning teams. Beginning in 2008 with his original team, the Tampa Bay Rays, and including the impending American League East title for the current Red Sox, Gomes has played on a division winner four times in the past six years.
Nolan is coming off his first season in Double-A, making a bit of history as he does so. In April the Nashua, N.H. native became the first Granite Stater to suit up in a Fisher Cats uniform. He finished the year playing in 120 games, second most on the team, with a .262 batting average. A product of Winthrop University, Nolan had 24 doubles (second on team), nine home runs, and 60 RBI. His 118 hits were the most on the club.
Russo comes to the dinner after a whirlwind summer. Like Nolan, Russo is a Nashua native who began her road to the Miss America pageant competing as Miss Souhegan Valley. Considered an upset victor in the Miss New Hampshire pageant in April, Russo took Atlantic City's boardwalk by storm earlier this month at the Miss America Pageant. She won a preliminary talent award and non-finalist award while also earning $6,000 in scholarships. While serving her state as Miss New Hampshire, Russo also worked in the Fisher Cats front office this past summer.
LeFlore, a dinner returnee, is the ultimate example of redemption. The Detroit, Mich. Native spent nine years in the major leagues, the first six of them with his hometown Tigers. A career .288 hitter, LeFlore was a terror on the bases with 57 career triples and nearly 500 stolen bases. He twice led the league in steals in 1978 and 1980.
LeFlore's life is about more than baseball, however. As a youth in Detroit he was in trouble often, getting involved with drugs at an early age. When he was just 15 he was arrested for armed robbery and ultimately sentenced to 5-15 years in prison. It was in prison that he first played organized baseball, earning a tryout with the Tigers in 1973. Just a year later he was in the major leagues with Detroit. Years after that his life story was turned into a book and a movie called One in a Million: The Ron LeFLore Story.
Tickets are $80 each and are available at the Fisher Cats Ticket Office, by visiting www.nhfishercats.com, and by calling 603-641-2005. Doors to the event will open at 5 p.m. with a silent auction and an autograph session with the honored guests from 5-7 p.m. Dinner will begin at 7 p.m. leading into the start of the evening's program.
For more information about the event, please contact Fisher Cats Director of Marketing & Public Affairs Jenna Raizes at (603) 606-4177 or visit www.nhfishercats.com. Corporate sponsorships are also available.
Fisher Cats Full and Half-Season Tickets are on sale now. Season Ticket Holders enjoy a host of benefits, including monthly all-you-can-eat barbecues, a free kid's birthday party, flexible exchange policy, invitation to exclusive events, and much more. Fans who purchase by October 15 will also receive triple Fisher Cash - up to $150 per full-season seat - to use at concessions stands or in the Souvenir Store. Opening Day at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium is April 4, 2013, against the Reading Phillies (Philadelphia Phillies). For tickets, visit www.nhfishercats.com or call (603) 641-2005.