(Allentown, Pa.) - Phillies manager Pete Mackanin and a pair of former IronPigs - RHP Aaron Nola and OF Aaron Altherr - are the first confirmed Guests of Honor for the 2016 Phillies Winter Banquet presented by The Air Products Foundation, Coca-Cola Bottling Company of the Lehigh Valley, Lehigh Valley Health Network and Service Electric Cable TV & Communications. The annual event will be held on Thursday, Jan. 21, at the Sands Events Center in Bethlehem.
The annual Phillies Winter Banquet is IronPigs Charities' flagship event. 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.
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. Seat or table reservations are now on sale and available by calling (610) 841-PIGS (7447) or visiting phillieswinterbanquet.com. Interested parties are reminded that seating is limited and the Phillies Winter Banquet has sold out in years past.
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.
Pete Mackanin, 64, was officially named the 53rd manager in Phillies history on Sept. 22, 2015, after serving as interim manager beginning on June 26, 2015. During his time at the helm, the young Phillies squad posted an increased winning percentage of .420 over 88 games after starting at .351 through the first 74 contests of the season.
Even though the Phillies are the third Major League team Mackanin has managed, this is the first time he will be a full-time skipper. The Chicago native served as interim manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates for 12 games in 2005 and later sported a 41-39 record in the same capacity for the Cincinnati Reds in 2007. He first joined the Phillies staff as Charlie Manuel's bench coach from 2009-12, then returned in 2014 after spending one season as a scout for the New York Yankees.
As a player, Mackanin was drafted by the Washington Senators in the fourth round of the 1969 Draft before enjoying a nine-year ML career. In 548 games, the infielder finished with a combined .226 average, 30 home runs and 141 runs batted in for the Texas Rangers (1972-73), the Montreal Expos (1975-77), the Phillies (1978-79) and the Minnesota Twins (1980-81). In 1975, he hit a career-best 12 HR, which still remains the Expos' single-season record for HR by a second baseman.
Aaron Nola, 22, started his ML career in impressive fashion - going 6-2 with a 3.59 earned run average in 13 starts last season following his promotion from Lehigh Valley. Despite not making his ML debut until July 21, the Baton Rouge, La., native still finished tied for the Phillies' team lead in victories (6) in 2015.
The Phillies' first-round pick (seventh overall) in 2014 rocketed through the system to reach the big leagues -- becoming the first Philadelphia draftee to make his ML debut the following season after being drafted since Pat Combs (11th overall in 1988) in Sept. 5, 1989. Nola dazzled in his IronPigs debut, tossing five scoreless innings in a 3-0 shutout of Buffalo on June 18. He started his Triple-A career with a 12-inning scoreless streak and became just the second Phillies farmhand since 1999 to win his first three career Triple-A starts, joining only Tyler Cloyd (2012). His stay in Lehigh Valley lasted just six starts, as the righty went 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA.
Aaron Altherr, 24, also proved impactful during his first lengthy stint in the majors. The outfielder appeared in 39 games for the Phillies and hit .241 with five HR and 22 RBI while flashing tremendous defensive ability. In fact, despite putting up impressive numbers with his bat in the minors, it was his glove that brought him national acclaim. Altherr captured a 2015 Rawlings Gold Glove Award for the minor league season after being perfect in 107 games in the field, recording 279 chances and eight assists without committing an error.
The Phillies' ninth-round pick in 2009 played in 51 games for Lehigh Valley, batting .294 with eight HR, 38 RBI and eight stolen bases. During his span in Triple-A, which began after a promotion from Reading (AA) on June 23 until being recalled by Philadelphia on Aug. 18, he ranked tied for second in the International League in runs scored (36) and fourth in RBI (33) while pacing the IronPigs in HR (8).
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 Banquet is the distribution of grants to local non-profit organizations, which will exceed $90,000 at this year's event. In fact, over $650,000 has been distributed at this event since debuting in 2008. Since its inception in 2007, IronPigs Charities has made more than $800,000 in monetary contributions.
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.
To renew or order season tickets, mini plans or group tickets for the 2016 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.