Baseball Legacy Dinner to feature top alumni players
A panel of successful pro baseball players who got their start at Arizona State University will be the centerpiece of "Sun Devil Baseball Legacy: Celebrating ASU's 100+ Major Leaguers," a dinner event to be held at 7 p.m., Feb. 9, at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, 60 E. Fifth St., Tempe.
The dinner, presented by the Arizona State University Alumni Association in partnership with the Sun Devil Club and Sun Devil Baseball, caps off a day full of events, which starts with the annual alumni baseball game at noon at the Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark, 201 S. Packard Drive, Tempe.
The dinner honors all Sun Devils who have played or currently are playing professional baseball. A panel of former Sun Devil players will share stories about the university's successful baseball program, which ranks first in the nation in terms of how many players it has sent to the major leagues since 1959.
The panel will include the following players:
Kole Calhoun: Calhoun was the 100th Sun Devil to reach the major leagues after being selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the eighth round of the 2010 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft. An outfielder who played for ASU in 2009 and 2010, he earned the nickname “Mayor of Omaha” after he recorded three home runs and 11 RBIs, including a grand slam, in the 2009 College World Series. He was called up to the major leagues on May 21, 2012, and made his debut in the majors the next day.
Willie Bloomquist: Bloomquist played a variety of positions as a utility infielder/outfielder for ASU from 1997 to 1999. A two-time All-American, he is the only player in school history to record 100 hits in consecutive seasons. He was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 1999 MLB draft and played for the Mariners, the Kansas City Royals and the Cincinnati Reds before returning to the Valley of the Sun to play for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011.
Paul Lo Duca: Lo Duca played for ASU for a single season – 1993 – during which he set the school’s single-season batting average at .446 and received National Player of the Year honors. He was drafted in the 25th round of the MLB draft in 1993 by the Los Angeles Dodgers and made his major league debut in 1998. During his 11 years in the major leagues, he played catcher for the Dodgers, the Florida Marlins, the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals. He made an MLB All-Star team four times, and was a starter in the 2006 game. The Sun Devils retired Lo Duca’s No. 16 jersey in 2005.
Blas Minor: Minor was a right-handed pitcher for the Sun Devils from 1987-88. Minor was drafted in the sixth round of the 1988 MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates and played for the Pirates, the Seattle Mariners, the New York Mets, and the Houston Astros during his career.
Hubie Brooks: Brooks played shortstop at ASU. A member of ASU's 1977 national championship team, Brooks was the third overall pick by the New York Mets in the 1978 draft. He played 15 seasons in the major leagues – playing shortstop, right field and third base over the years – and was twice named to the All-Star Team. One of the greatest hitters in Sun Devil history, Brooks was inducted into the ASU Sports Hall of Fame in 1983 and saw his No. 7 jersey retired by ASU in 2000.
Sal Bando: Bando played third base for ASU in 1964 and 1965 and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 1965 College World Series. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 1965 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Athletics and played 16 years for Kansas City/Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers. He was inducted into the ASU Hall of Fame in 1975 and had his No. 6 jersey retired by the Sun Devils in 1996.
The panel will be moderated by Seth Dhaenens, who played a variety of positions as an all-conference utility infielder for the Sun Devils during 2004 and 2005. He played four seasons for minor-league farm teams for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and has been the ASU baseball color analyst for the MidFirst Bank Sun Devil IMG Sports Network since 2010.
In addition to the members of the panel, other ASU sports luminaries will attend, including Steve Patterson, vice president for Athletics, Tim Esmay, ASU baseball head coach, and the entire 2013 ASU baseball team. Christine K. Wilkinson, ASU Alumni Association president, who has acted as interim athletics director three times during her career at the university, also will attend.
Tickets to the dinner are $100 for members of the Alumni Association, members of the Sun Devil Club or ASU Baseball season ticket holders; those who are not members of any of those groups will pay $125. For additional information about the Baseball Legacy dinner, visit http://alumni.asu.edu/baseball.