FRESNO - The initial talent has been announced for the annual Fresno Grizzlies Hot Stove Gala and dinner, slated for Thursday, February 1, 2017 at the Fresno Convention Center, Exhibit Hall III at 700 “M” Street downtown. Dusty Baker, a veteran of 19 Major League seasons as an outfielder and 22 more campaigns as one of the winningest managers in MLB history will be a keynote speaker. The event will begin at 6 p.m. for the general public (doors at 5:30), and at 5 p.m. for those who have purchased VIP tickets. VIP access includes a private mixer with the talent prior to the dinner and speeches.
Tickets for the event are now on sale by visiting FresnoGrizzlies.com or the ticket office at Chukchansi Park between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. during normal business hours. Additional speakers and talent for the event will be announced in January.
Baker, 68, has been a household name among baseball fans since his early 20s. After debuting as a Major Leaguer with the Atlanta Braves at age 19 in 1968, Baker went on to play over 2,000 MLB games through his retirement as a player following the 1986 season. Between 1980 and 1982 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Baker was twice an All-Star Game selection, finishing fourth in the 1980 National League MVP voting. In 1981, he captured the Rawlings Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards (batted .320), in addition to an All-Star nod. A career .278 Major League hitter, Baker accumulated 242 big league home runs and over 1,000 RBI in 19 seasons with Atlanta (1968-1975), Los Angeles (1976-1983), the San Francisco Giants (1984) and the Oakland Athletics (1985-1986).
Following a wildly successful playing career with over two decades as a big league skipper, Baker guided San Francisco to a 103-59 record in his Major League managerial debut in 1993. Managing the Giants through 2002, Baker’s clubs captured National League West division titles in 1997 and 2000, and a NL Wild Card berth in 2002, ultimately leading to a pennant winner. Moving on to manage the Chicago Cubs (2003-2006), Cincinnati Reds (2008-2013) and Washington Nationals (2016-2017), Baker would lead six more clubs to the postseason. His Chicago club won the NL Central in 2003, followed by two division winners with Cincinnati (2010 and 2012) in addition to a 2013 Wild Card Game appearance. Baker just concluded a run of consecutive NL East division titles with Washington.
As a result of piloting nine postseason teams during his career, Baker ranks 14th all-time on MLB’s managerial win list, with 1,863 victories to his name for a .532 winning percentage.
“We’re so lucky in Fresno to have such diverse baseball tastes to draw from, and Dusty Baker has done it all in this game in California and beyond,” remarked Fresno Grizzlies Executive Vice President and General Manager Derek Franks. “Dusty Baker being an all-time great baseball man as a player and manager is certainly one thing Dodgers and Giants fans can agree on, and it’s very special for us to have someone of his caliber in the game visit with our fans and supporters as we gear up for Spring Training and another season,” Franks continued.
Tickets are on sale for $50 apiece, if purchased prior to January 1. VIP tickets, which include the 5 p.m. meet and greet with Baker and the rest of the talent are $80, until the new year. Tables of 10 ($500) and VIP tables (of 10, $800) are also discounted if purchased before 1/1. Prices will rise to $60 (general) and $100 (VIP) after New Year’s, with tables priced at $600 (general) and $1,000 (VIP) after January 1. Tickets for children 12 and under are $20 until the 1st, and then $25.
Purchase tickets online during the holiday season. For more information or to RSVP, call Grizzlies Community Fund Director Whitney Campbell at (559) 320-2547. The Hot Stove Gala benefits the Fresno Grizzlies Community Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that manages community programs such as “Wild About Reading,” “Farm Grown” and the Junior Grizzlies baseball program. Autograph opportunities and a Q&A with the talent/guests will also be available to patrons.