Feb. 21, 2007
With the snow melting and pitchers and catchers reporting in Florida, it is time for Iowa fans to start thinking baseball. The Hawkeye baseball team kicked-off the 2007 season with the fourth-annual Lead-Off Dinner Monday.
The event was a huge success, giving fans a sneak peak into the 2007 season in which the coaches expect big things.
“This was another great success for us,” Iowa baseball coach Jack Dahm said. “It really shows the excitement the community has for Iowa baseball.”
Headlining the event was former major league player and manager Joe Girardi. Girardi enthralled the crowd with stories from his 15-year major league career, which included three World Championship seasons with the Yankees, and his stint as the manager of the Florida Marlins, where he was named 2006 National League Manager of the Year.
Girardi also talked about his time in the Big Ten, where he earned all-America and academic all-America honors at Northwestern University.
“Girardi had a great message for the players and for the people at the event,” Dahm said. “Joe was the epitome of what a college baseball player should aspire to, and hearing from him was a great way to start the season.”
The fans also got a season preview from Coach Dahm, honored the 2006 senior class, and were able to bid on tons of sports memorabilia in the silent and live auctions. The biding was fast and furious during the live auction, which featured one-of-a-kind opportunities like Bat-kid for a day at Wrigley Field and trips with Coach Dahm to Cubs and Bears games.
It’s opportunities like this that keep the Lead-Off Dinner growing. The event has gotten bigger in each of its four years, growing from 300 people the first year to 560 fans Monday.
“It’s really good for our players to see the enthusiasm and support that is out there for Iowa baseball,” Dahm said. “It makes us eager to get back and play in front of those fans at Banks Field.”