Hall of Famer Phil Niekro & Atlanta Braves All-Star Javy Lopez Highlight the Hot Stove Banquet

10th annual event is sponsored by Tom McQueeney State Farm Insurance

By Charleston RiverDogs | December 4, 2013 5:17 AM

CHARLESTON, SC - Hall of Fame Pitcher Phil Niekro and former Atlanta Braves All-Star catcher Javy Lopez will be the featured guests at the Charleston RiverDogs 10th Annual Hot Stove Banquet & Auction on January 31 in the Charleston Marriott Crystal Ballroom.

Greg Colbrunn, the hitting coach for the 2013 World Series champion Boston Red Sox, will join this All-Star lineup.

The Hot Stove Banquet is an annual event hosted by the Charleston RiverDogs that brings all baseball fans together to celebrate the magic of America's Favorite Pastime. These standouts will share behind-the-scenes stories, answer questions and pose for pictures all of which will create memories that last a lifetime.

Tom McQueeney State Farm Insurance is the presenting sponsor for the seventh consecutive year. Proceeds from the Hot Stove Banquet benefit The Citadel, College of Charleston and Charleston Southern baseball programs and the MUSC's Storm Eye Institute, which is the RiverDogs' primary charity.

"The Hot Stove Banquet is one of the premiere baseball banquets in the region and in our 10th year, I believe this will be our best one yet," said RiverDogs General Manager Dave Echols.

The reception begins at 6 pm with the dinner starting at 7 o'clock. Tickets are $65 per person and include dinner, a table gift and autograph or photo opportunity. Tables of eight with preferred seating are available for $550.

Fans will also have the opportunity to bid on an exclusive meet and greet session with both Niekro and Lopez that will be held on January 31 from 4:15-5pm. There will be an opportunity to get autographs and take pictures with the two former Braves, and light food and drink will be provided by Kickin' Chicken. For more information or to bid on the meet and greet, please click here.

Niekro, who was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997, had a 24-year career playing for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays. He was Nicknamed "Knucksie" for his fluttering knuckle ball that helped him achieve an impressive lifetime record of 318-274. Niekro produced a winning percentage significantly higher than the teams for which he pitched.

He twice led the National League in wins and propelled Atlanta to the National League West title in 1969, when he recorded 23 victories, 21 complete games and a 2.57 ERA. A five-time All Star and five-time Gold Glove Award winner, Niekro won 121 games after he turned 40, which is the most wins in baseball history by anyone over that age. Legendary Yankees' slugger Bobby Murcer once described trying to hit Niekro's knuckleball like "trying to eat Jell-O with chopsticks."

Lopez played for the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, and most notably the Atlanta Braves.

He was a member of the Braves' 1995 World Series team and caught for John Smoltz, Tom

Glavine, Greg Maddux and Steve Avery, also known as the "Young Guns." In 1996 Lopez established himself as the Braves' regular-season catcher and helped Atlanta win the NL Championship Series, earning the series Most Valuable Player honors in the process.

Lopez had his best season in 2003 with a .328 batting average, 43 home runs and 109 RBI in 129 games. He broke Todd Hundley's record for most home runs hit in a season by a catcher (41) which propelled him to win the Silver Slugger Award and a spot on the All-Star Team for the third time. In 2003, Lopez was recognized with the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. "Javy Lopez is the total package," said former Atlanta bullpen coach Ned Yost. "He's everything you want in a catcher. He plays hard, he gives you everything he's got, and he's tough."

Colbrunn, the RiverDogs' hitting coach for five seasons and manager for another, played in the Major Leagues for 13 years as a first baseman and pinch-hitter. He played for Atlanta Braves, Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins, Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners, and was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks World Series team in 2001. This past year, he served as the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox and helped lead them to a World Series title. Colbrunn is one of the few in history to have won a World Series ring as a player and a coach.

For tickets and additional information, please contact the RiverDogs at (843) 577-DOGS (3647). Tickets may also be purchased online at www.riverdogs.com or www.rileyparkevents.com.



Previous Hot Stove Speakers

2012 - Wade Boggs

2011 - John Smoltz

2010 - Bobby Cox

2009 - Dale Murphy

2008 - Gaylord Perry

2007 - Jeff Francoeur

2006 - Tommy John

2005 - Jim Bouton

2004 - Bobby Richardson & John Blanchard

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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