The 20112 Baseball Season is fast approaching, with the Greenville Drive set to kick-off its 7th season in Downtown Greenville's Historic West End in less than 3 months. Drive fans will have an early opportunity to savor the upcoming season's excitement on January 23rd when the Team hosts their annual Hot Stove Event and Silent Auction January 23rd, with new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine as the featured guest.
The Hot Stove Event and Silent Auction is free for fans to attend, and will be held at the Huguenot Mill in Downtown Greenville from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
Joining Valentine as the Drive's featured guests during the Hot Stove Event will be Red Sox Director of Player Development, Ben Crockett, as well as Red Sox outfield prospect and former University of South Carolina standout, Jackie Bradley Jr.
Drive President and Co-Owner, Craig Brown, commented on the event, noting, "We are thrilled that Bobby Valentine has taken time out of his busy schedule in preparation for the 2012 season to visit exciting Downtown Greenville. This Hot Stove event on January 23rd will be his first chance to interact with the Drive's great fan base, and our opportunity to show the new Red Sox manager why Greenville and Fluor Field is such a popular and positive experience for the many Red Sox stars who enjoy playing here during their minor league journey."
A veteran of more than 40 years in professional baseball, Valentine was formally introduced as the 45th manager in Red Sox history on December 1st. A native of Stamford, Connecticut, Valentine has previously served parts of 15 seasons as a Major League manager with the Texas Rangers (1985-92) and New York Mets (1996-2002), compiling 1,117 career victories - ranking fourth among active managers in games and fifth in wins. Valentine led the Mets to the National League Championship Series back-to-back years in 1999 and 2000, as well as a World Series berth in 2000.
His previous managerial experience also includes seven years over two stints with the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan's Pacific League in 1995 and 2004-09. In 2005, Valentine led the Marines to their first Pacific League pennant in 31 years and a four-game sweep of the Japan Series for the Nippon Professional Baseball Championship. Valentine was honored with the 2005 Matsutaro Shoriki Award, given to an individual who makes great contributions to professional baseball in Japan.
For the past three years, Valentine served as an analyst for ESPN's baseball coverage, and was a member of the network's Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team in 2011.
The 40th overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, former South Carolina Gamecocks standout Jackie Bradley, Jr. will also take part in the Hot Stove Event. After making his professional debut with the Lowell Spinners on August 23rd, Bradley joined the Drive for the final five games of the 2011 regular season. During his impressive collegiate career, Bradley led the Gamecocks to back-to-back National Championships in 2010 and 2011, having been named both the Most Outstanding Player and to the All-Tournament Team at the College World Series in 2010. During his final year at the University of South Carolina in 2011, Bradley was named to the All-SEC Defensive Team.
Ben Crockett, who was recently promoted to Director of Player Development for the Red Sox, will discuss the team's success from a year ago, as well as the top prospects that fans can expect to see take the field in 2012 as the Drive look to continue their outstanding onfield performance, which includes trips to the South Atlantic League postseason in two of the last three years.
"This event will be a one of a kind experience for our fans as they'll have the chance to interact with and participate in a Q&A session with one of the most respected men in baseball and manager of the Red Sox, Bobby Valentine," commented Drive General Manager, Mike deMaine. "This event will be special as it will also give fans the opportunity to connect with Jackie Bradley, Jr., a talented young man who we hope to see in a Drive uniform to begin the 2012 season."
After six seasons of record breaking attendance and providing countless fans with an affordable, family-friendly venue and entertainment, the Drive is ensuring that 2012 will be its most memorable year to date. Drive President and Co-Owner Craig Brown and General Manager Mike deMaine will also give fans a sneak peek at some of the new enhancements at Fluor Field for 2012 during the Hot Stove Event and Silent Auction.
Not only is the Hot Stove Event open to the public, but it will also feature some complimentary food and beverage items. The Silent Auction portion of the event will include both Drive and Red Sox memorabilia, benefitting the many Community organizations that the Drive support.
Brown commented on the upcoming season, noting, "We are tremendously encouraged by the way the Upstate has supported our efforts to provide a world-class setting and great entertainment value at Fluor Field. The partnerships we've established with our fans, our sponsors and the community at large have been very gratifying, and we are truly excited about the new ways guests at Fluor Field will be able to enjoy themselves at Drive games over the 2012 Season, and beyond."
Ticket plans, group outings, and hospitality accommodations are currently on sale for the 2012 season. Call (864) 240-4500 to speak with a representative or log onto to www.GreenvilleDrive.com for more information.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.