First Pitch Banquet marks season’s start

Awards and speeches, not hits and stolen bases, began the 2009 baseball season.

The Horned Frogs attended the sixth annual First Pitch Banquet Friday night at Ridglea Country Club in the presence of a four-time World Series champion.

The team was proud to welcome Bobby Brown, four-time World Series winner and former American League president, as the keynote speaker for the evening.

Brown shared many stories, including his time with the New York Yankees, playing with greats like Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra and the challenges of playing pro baseball and working toward a medical degree at the same time.

“What an honor that we’re just able to have an audience with a gentleman like (Brown) and for him to share some of his wit and wisdom not only with these young ballplayers but all of us that are baseball fans,” said associate athletics director Ross Bailey.

The event was held at Ridglea Country Club and included dinner, a number of guest speakers and a silent auction, all of which raised funds for the program.

“You get momentum for the season and people thinking college baseball,” said head coach Jim Schlossnagle about the purpose of the banquet.

The banquet also honored the accomplishments of the previous season, and provided a stage to announce the winners of the 2008 team awards. Raking in three of the six postseason awards was graduated outfielder Clint Arnold, who won the Garry Williams Most Valuable Player Award, the Ben Dyess Leading Hitter Award and Steve Macko Scholar-Athlete Award. The Frank Windegger Fightin’ Frog Award went to graduated pitcher Dillon Farish. The Outstanding Pitcher Award was shared between Andrew Cashner, who left school after he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the first round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, and junior Tyler Lockwood. The Outstanding Defensive Player Award went to senior second baseman Ben Carruthers.

Several special guests attended the banquet including baseball historian Talmage Boston, who offered Brown’s introduction, and representatives of pro baseball’s Texas Rangers.

Schlossnagle conducted a special presentation for new Fort Worth Police Department Chief of Police Jeff Halstead in which Schlossnagle gave the chief a new TCU lapel pin to replace his Fort Worth Police Department longhorn-shaped pin.

The voice of the Horned Frogs, Brian Estridge, was the event’s master of ceremonies.

Brown had compliments all around for TCU and its baseball program.

“I think coach Schlossnagle has done a terrific job,” he said. “They have one of the best programs in the country now. They have a great facility and they have a great way to attract people and the school is great. There isn’t any reason why they can’t compete with everyone.”

The First Pitch Weekend was completed Saturday with the return of the Alumni game at Lupton Stadium.

The Horned Frogs begin their 2009 campaign Feb. 20 on the road against Cal State Fullerton. The first home game is Feb. 24 against Dallas Baptist University.