Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg has been announced as the initial Guest of Honor for the 2014 Phillies Winter Banquet presented by The Air Products Foundation, Lehigh Valley Health Network and Service Electric Cable TV & Communications, to be held on Thursday, January 23, 2014, at the Sands Events Center in Bethlehem. Additional Guests of Honor will be announced in the near future. Seat or table reservations are now on sale and available by calling (610) 841-PIGS (7447). Interested parties are reminded that seating is limited and the Phillies Winter Banquet has sold out in years past. The event will begin at 6 p.m.
Sandberg, 54, began last season as the Phillies' third base coach - his first Major League coaching position after a successful run as a Minor League manager that included two years as the IronPigs' skipper -- and was promoted to full-time Phillies manager this past September.
Prior to 2013, he spent two seasons as IronPigs manager, where he went 155-132 (.540) and led the club to their first playoff appearance in club history by winning the International League wild card in 2011. That season was also the IronPigs' first season with a winning record (80-64).
A 2005 inductee to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Sandberg was a 10-time National League All-Star and won nine Gold Gloves and seven Silver Slugger awards during his 16-year career (1981-94, 1996-97). He was originally drafted by the Phillies in 1978 and made his Major League debut with the club in 1981, appearing in 13 games. Sandberg finished his career with a .285 batting average, 282 home runs, 1,061 RBI and 344 stolen bases in 2,164 games. At the time of his retirement, his 277 home runs as a second baseman was a Major League record.
In 1984, Sandberg batted .319 with 19 home runs, 84 RBI, 32 stolen bases and a league-leading 19 triples en route to winning the National League Most Valuable Player award - the first by a Cub since shortstop Ernie Banks won back-to-back award in 1958-59. Sandberg led Chicago to a N.L. East title that season, the Cubs first championship of any kind since 1945. He had his number 23 retired in a ceremony at Wrigley Field on August 28, 2005, becoming only the fourth Chicago Cub to receive such an honor.
Sandberg is the only Hall of Fame player currently managing in the major leagues and the first full-time manager who had a Hall of Fame playing career since Frank Robinson was manager of the Washington Nationals in 2006.
The annual Phillies Winter Banquet is IronPigs Charities' flagship event with donations topping $124,000 in 2013. All of the money raised benefits IronPigs Charities, a non-profit organization striving to provide educational and recreational opportunities for children in the Greater Lehigh Valley area.
The main program for Phillies Winter Banquet features players and personnel from the Philadelphia Phillies and includes a dinner and open bar, a sports memorabilia silent auction, raffles and an entertainment portion with the special Phillies guests. Additional Guests of Honor will be announced in the near future as last year's banquet included a number of notable attendees including Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., as well as C Erik Kratz and INF Kevin Frandsen.
Tickets are $85 per person or $775 for a table of ten. Championship tables, allowing patrons entrance to a private pre-event reception are also available. The event will begin at 6 p.m. with a cocktail hour and commencement of the auctions and raffles.
The state-of-the-art Sands Bethlehem Events Center, a spacious 50,000 square foot venue, opened in 2012 on the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem campus and has already hosted a wide array of premier musical acts, comedians and sporting events. The events center is directly located adjacent to the Sands Hotel. Winter Banquet attendees may enter at any of the Sands Boulevard entrances off 3rd Street and follow the signs directing you to the rear of the hotel.
The Phillies Winter Banquet beneficiary, IronPigs Charities presented by The Air Products Foundation, is a recognized 501(c) (3) non-profit organization on the state and federal level. One of the annual highlights of the Winter Tour event is the distribution of grants to local non-profit organizations. In fact, over $375,000 has been distributed at this event since debuting in 2008. Since its inception in 2007, IronPigs Charities has made more than $560,000 in monetary contributions.
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To renew or order season tickets, mini plans or group tickets for the 2014 IronPigs season presented by Capital BlueCross, call (610) 841-PIGS (7447) or visit Coca-Cola Park's ticket office during normal business hours.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.