FRESNO, Calif. - Keynote speakers have been announced for the annual Fresno Grizzlies Hot Stove Gala, slated for Thursday, February 2, 2017 at Convention Center Exhibit Hall III in Downtown Fresno. Matt Williams, who spent a decade as the starting third baseman for the San Francisco Giants will headline the program, as well as Houston Astros right-handed pitcher Joe Musgrove, who just completed his MLB rookie season after suiting up for the Grizzlies this past spring.
Williams, who smashed 378 career big league home runs during his 17-year MLB career, debuted with the Giants in 1987. After 10 years with San Francisco, he joined the Cleveland Indians' American League Championship team in 1997, before playing his final six seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, which he joined as an expansion franchise in 1998. Williams played in a World Series with each of his clubs ('89 Giants, '97 Indians), winning a championship in his third with the Dbacks, in their seven-game triumph over the New York Yankees in 2001. A .268 career hitter with over 1,200 runs batted in, Williams played nearly 1,900 Major League games and had exactly 7,000 big league at-bats (1,878 hits).
"A special event requires a special personality, so we're thrilled Matt Williams will join us at our Hot Stove Gala on February 2," said Fresno Grizzlies General Manager Derek Franks. "That evening is such a landmark event on our calendar each year, and to host a former Major League superstar, and an up-and-coming star like Joe Musgrove who was with the Grizzlies last season will keep this most-important Fresno baseball tradition going strong."
Drafted third overall by San Francisco out of UNLV in 1986, Williams was selected to the MLB All-Star Game five times during his career, and won four Rawlings Gold Gloves. Four times he placed in the top six in National League MVP voting; in 1990 his 122 RBI led the NL (.277/33 HR), in 1993 Williams batted .294 with 38 home runs and 110 RBI, in 1994 he was NL MVP runner-up, leading the league with 43 homers and in 1999 at age 33 with Arizona, Williams placed third in the voting by batting .303 with 35 home runs and 142 RBI, a career-high in RBI and the fourth time in his career he eclipsed 100 runs driven in. Williams spent the 2016 season as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff; in 2014 and 2015 he managed the Washington Nationals, earning 2014 National Manager of the Year honors in his first year on the job. Williams led Washington to 96 wins and a NL East title by 17 games.
Musgrove, 23, had been the Houston Astros' top pitching prospect prior to his Major League debut this past season, making 11 appearances (10 starts) for the Astros. 2016 was also his Triple-A debut with the Grizzlies before the promotion to Houston in June, and he made 16 combined appearances (14 starts) between Fresno and Double-A Corpus Christi. Posting a 7-4 record, Musgrove allowed just a 2.81 ERA in 85.1 minor league innings in 2016, with a stellar 87 strikeouts to only 10 walks. In 62 Major League innings, the rookie struck out 55, walking just 16.
Tickets are on sale and $75 for adults and $35 for children (12 and under). For an extra $25 ($100 or $60 total), fans will have access to a special VIP mixer with the talent beginning at 5 p.m. (doors open 4:30). An All-Star Table (includes 10 tickets) is available for $700 and space is limited. For $900 dollars a VIP table can be purchased, which includes admission at 4:30 and VIP mixer access with the talent for the entire party at the table. Purchase tickets online or RSVP by calling Grizzlies Community Fund Director Whitney Campbell at (559) 320-2547 or by visiting the Fresno Grizzlies ticket office at Chukchansi Park. The Hot Stove Gala benefits the Fresno Grizzlies Community Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that manages community programs such as Wild About Reading, Farm Grown and Junior Grizzlies. In addition to the guest speakers, awards to local high school teams and high school players will be presented. Autograph opportunities and a Q&A with the headline talent will also be available to patrons.
ABOUT THE FRESNO GRIZZLIES
The Fresno Grizzlies, Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, are a member of the 16-team Pacific Coast League and are one of 30 teams in the world playing the highest level of Minor League Baseball. The team plays at 12,500-seat Chukchansi Park in Downtown Fresno, which is also a year-round community gathering place, hosting myriad other special events beyond Grizzlies' games, such as concerts, professional soccer and high school sporting events. The Grizzlies will enter the 2017 season - their 20th in Fresno - on the momentum of back-to-back winning seasons, including a PCL and National Championship in 2015. For information on 2017 Fresno Grizzlies season ticket and mini-plans, fans should call the Grizzlies' ticket office at 559.320.TIXS between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.