Nearly 500 area baseball supporters and enthusiasts attended the Youngstown State baseball program's First Pitch Breakfast on Saturday morning at McMenamy's Restaurant and Banquet Center in Niles.
The event featured speeches from Cleveland Indians President Mark Shapiro, seven-time Major league Baseball All Star Al Oliver and MLB umpire John Hirschbeck. Those in attendance were treated to a breakfast buffet, an impressive list of live and silent auction items and the opportunity to meet the 2014 Penguins.
"I just can't thank everyone enough for their involvement with the breakfast on Saturday.," YSU head coach Steve Gillispie said. "It was a great turnout, our speakers were entertaining, the atmosphere was fantastic, and baseball enthusiasts would be hard-pressed to find a better place to spend a morning.
"Our proceeds totaled just over $15,000, which is outstanding for our student-athletes," he added. "The support of the YSU family is amazing, and we are truly grateful for everyone who was in attendance and their contributions."
YSU President Dr. Randy J. Dunn welcomed guests to the event, and Gillispie touted the academic achievements of the baseball team and thanked corporate sponsors and the speakers for their support of the event. He also shared kind words about one of last year's speakers, Wally Bell, a Mahoning Valley native and MLB umpire who passed away in October.
Hirschbeck also shared fond memories and funny moments he had with Bell during his time at the podium, and he discussed the new replay system and other umpiring stories during a question-and-answer session. Oliver told stories about his playing days for the Pirates with Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente, and Shapiro talked about the Indians' personnel, engaging with the city of Cleveland and his optimism for the 2014 season during his Q&A session.