Niles, Ohio -- More than 450 people enjoyed speeches from Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and Major League Baseball umpire Wally Bell and bid on quality baseball memorabilia at the Youngstown State University baseball program’s annual First Pitch Breakfast on Saturday morning. The event was held at McMenamy’s Restaurant and Banquet Center in Niles.
Hurdle gave the event’s keynote, which focused on communicating effectively with today’s young people, being passionate in life, maintaining relationships and his enthusiasm for the city of Pittsburgh and the Pirates. He also exchanged playful jabs with Bell, who shared stories from his 20-plus years on the diamond and had the room erupt with laughter several times with baseball-themed jokes.
Bell also served as auctioneer for an impressive list of live and silent auction items. Live auction items included tickets and batting practice passes to both Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates games, tickets to the Pirates SkyBlast promotion, and signed jerseys by Pirates All-Star Andrew McCutchen and Hall-of-Famer Ferguson Jenkins. The silent auction included a wide array of items such as a signed photo of Nolan Ryan, a signed baseball by George Brett, YSU cutting boards and wooden clocks from Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods and YSU baseball memorabilia to name a few. The baseball program profited close to $15,000 at the event.
Members of YSU’s baseball team were also recognized for their hard work on and off the field, and they interacted with many guests.
“We had a tremendous weekend,” YSU head coach Steve Gillispie said. “It was quite the energetic kickoff for our season, and it seemed that all of those in attendance really enjoyed themselves. Our speakers were riveting. Clint’s message reached all ages in attendance, and Wally was Wally and was an absolute highlight.”
“Coach Smallcomb, Coach Neal, Coach Stanford and Coach Antush were absolutely superb in their efforts to make sure this was a first-class event, and the support we received from the athletic department and our committee was invaluable. I hope everyone is looking forward to next year’s breakfast as much as we already are.”
Individuals who bought corporate tables for Saturday’s breakfast were invited to dinner with Hurdle and Bell Friday evening at Michael Alberini’s Restaurant and Wine Shop in Boardman.
An album containing photos from the event is viewable on the Youngstown State Penguins Facebook page at facebook.com/ysusports.