CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With the race to the International League and Pacific Coast League playoffs in full swing, the Charlotte Knights and the city of Charlotte are preparing for an exciting way to cap-off the inaugural 2014 campaign at BB&T Ballpark. Already announced back in November, the Uptown Charlotte skyline will be the backdrop for the 2014 Gildan Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game, which will be held on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at BB&T Ballpark. The game, which gets underway at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, will be broadcast to a national television audience on NBC Sports Network.
Returning in 2014 as the play-by-play voice of the Gildan Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game is George Grande, who began his broadcasting career in 1967 as a student at the University of Southern California. Throughout an illustrious broadcast career, Grande has served as play-by-play announcer for the New York Yankees (1989-90), St. Louis Cardinals (1991-92) and the Cincinnati Reds (1993-2009). In 1979, Grande, alongside Lee Leonard, were the first hosts of ESPN's SportsCenter. Grande also served as the master of ceremonies for the National Baseball Hall of Fame's annual inductions for 31 years (1980 to 2010).
Joining Grande in the booth this year for the second time since 2012, will be 16-time Gold Glove Award winner and seven-time Emmy Award winning broadcaster Jim Kaat. Signed as a free agent by the Washington Senators in 1957, Kaat played 25 seasons in the majors - spanning four decades (50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's). A three-time All-Star, Kaat won 283 games at the Major League level and finished with a career mark of 283-237 with a 3.45 ERA in 4,530.1 innings pitched. He went 25-13 with a 2.75 ERA in 1966. Kaat made a league-high 41 starts, tossed 304.2 innings pitched and threw 19 complete games - both top marks in the league that season.
The field reporter for this year's game is the "Voice of the Charlotte Knights" Matt Swierad. Currently in the midst of his 17th season with the Knights, Swierad is a veteran of over 3,000 professional baseball broadcasts. Swierad, a native of North Smithfield, RI, began calling games for the Knights in 1998. His radio career has spanned 24+ seasons, including seven years in the Class-A South Atlantic League with the Gastonia Rangers (1991-92), Hagerstown Suns (1993), and Hickory Crawdads (1994-97).
"It's been a truly wonderful first season for the Charlotte Knights at BB&T Ballpark and I'm very thankful to have been a part of it," exclaimed Swierad. "Now with the Triple-A National Championship here, it's exciting to be part of the broadcast team that will showcase this stadium and city to a national audience. I'm honored to join George and Jim on this broadcast, and we're going to have a great time watching the best of both leagues."
The 2014 Gildan Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game will determine the overall champion of Triple-A Baseball and pits the top team from the International League against the top team from Pacific Coast League in a winner-take-all showdown. The International League squad will be considered the home team for this year's game after the IL's 7-3 win over the PCL All-Stars in July at the Triple-A All-Star Game from Durham, NC. The two teams competing in this year's game will be set closer to September 16 and fans are encouraged to follow along at charlotteknights.com for daily playoff updates once the regular season is complete.
Once again this season the American Forces Network will showcase the Gildan Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game. The American Forces Network reaches nearly one million men and women of the US Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines stationed around the globe in 175 countries and on the high seas.
Tickets for the 2014 Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game are available by phone at 704-274-8300, online at www.charlotteknights.com, and in person at the BB&T Ballpark Ticket Office.