COMSTOCK PARK, MI - The 2018 class of the West Michigan Whitecaps Hall of Fame will be inducted on Wednesday, January 24, as part of "Step up to the Plate" presented by Barnes & Thornburg LLP and Wolverine Worldwide. The 24th annual event, formerly known as the Winter Baseball Banquet, will be held at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.
Nicholas Castellanos, Phil Regan, Lew Chamberlin and Denny Baxter make up the Whitecaps Hall of Fame Class of 2018. All are scheduled to be in attendance to receive the honor.
Also scheduled to attend the banquet are Whitecaps 2018 manager Lance Parrish, Tigers pitcher Shane Greene, former Whitecaps pitcher Benito Baez.
Step up to the Plate will see a slight format change from the previous Winter Baseball Banquet, with fan activities, socialization and informal player interviews during a strolling dinner and silent auction, followed by the speaking program, Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and YMCA Inner City Youth Baseball and Softball program recognition. The format modification emphasizes the celebration of the team's 25th season.
Proceeds from Step up to the Plate go to the Whitecaps Community Foundation, which will donate the majority of funds from the event to the YMCA Inner-City Youth Baseball and Softball Program and the Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities. More than $805,000 has been raised through the Whitecaps Winter Banquet for the charities.
The event begins at 5:45 p.m., and tickets are available at http://wcf2018.gesture.com until Wednesday, Jan. 17. Tickets are $85 each or $1,000 for a Home Run package of 10 tickets. The $1,500 Grand Slam packages are sold out.
Fans not in attendance will once again be able to bid on silent auction items and support the Whitecaps Community Foundation's initiatives. To view the auction items or make a donation to the cause, please visit http://wcf2018.gesture.com. Bidding will go live at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 24, and will close that night at 8 p.m.
The 2018 Hall of Fame class joins 16 other distinguished former players, managers, and administrators who have been inducted since 2009 (see all inductees here).
Castellanos joined the Whitecaps in 2011 as a 19-year-old after being drafted as a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds in the 2010 MLB draft. He batted .312 with seven home runs , 76 RBI and a Midwest League-leading 158 hits (tying the team record). He was named the Tigers' minor league position player of the year as well as a Midwest League Post-Season All-Star. The 2018 season will be his fifth in the Major Leagues with Detroit.
Regan managed the Whitecaps in 2002 and 2003. The Otsego, MI, native spent 13 seasons in the Major Leagues, six of which were with the Tigers (1960-1965). He began his coaching career at Grand Valley State University (1973-1982) and went on to manage the Baltimore Orioles in 1995. In addition to managing the Whitecaps, Regan has always been an advocate of the Whitecaps organization, using his ties and relationships in West Michigan to promote the team throughout the years.
Lew Chamberlin and Denny Baxter, the founders and general partners of the West Michigan Whitecaps, are being inducted in this 25th season of the Whitecaps.
Chamberlin, from Grand Rapids, was Michigan's Entrepreneur of the Year in 1996 and the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame's Warren Reynolds Lifetime Achievement Award winner in 2003. Baxter, from Muskegon, earned a CPA degree from Michigan State University before co-founding the Whitecaps, and was inducted into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. Both of these men serve on several boards, leadership councils and non-profit charities in West Michigan. Together, they brought the Whitecaps to West Michigan in 1994 as one of the only privately-funded sports teams in the country. Their team was named the Minor League Franchise of the Decade in 1999 by Baseball America.
The YMCA Inner-City Youth Baseball and Softball Program, funded by the Whitecaps Community Foundation and Fifth Third Bank, gives approximately 1,900 children annually the chance to participate in a structured extracurricular activity that provides guidance in their lives. Money raised supplies the equipment and operations necessary to provide Grand Rapids inner-city youth with a safe and reliable area during critical times in their lives while teaching the youth self-esteem, teamwork, self-confidence and the fundamentals of baseball.
Tigers players/managers will be made available to the media before the event. For details regarding availability and to acquire a media credential, please contact the Whitecaps Media Relations Department at (616) 726-7067.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.