Sports

Baseball Hall of Famer Guest Speaker at Nicholls Baseball First Pitch Banquet

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls Baseball Coaches Committee is set to host the annual First Pitch Banquet presented by Meyer Financial Group on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, at The Foundry. The event will feature guest speaker Ben McDonald and music by John Daigle. All proceeds from the event will benefit Nicholls Baseball.

Beer and wine will be provided during the cocktail and music hour starting at 7 p.m. prior to the program. Dinner will be served buffet style, and mixed drinks will be available for purchase. The program will last from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $150 each and available to purchase at https://www.nicholls.edu/caa/baseball-first-pitch-banquet-2023/.

“I’d like to thank our fans, families, the Coaches Committee and the community for their continued support of Colonels Baseball. We are excited to kick off the 2023 season by introducing the team at our annual First Pitch Banquet. The banquet is a great way to connect with the team and coaches and hear from the legendary Ben McDonald,” said Nicholls Head Baseball Coach Mike Silva. “Coming off a successful fall season, we look forward to continued success this spring. Our team has a tremendous work ethic, both on the field and in the classroom. We could not do it without the support of our community. We hope to see you at the First Pitch Banquet on January 20 and for the first pitch of the season on February 17 at the Did.”

The banquet’s guest speaker Ben McDonald, a Baton Rouge native, grew up just 12 miles from LSU and originally chose to attend the university on a baseball and basketball scholarship despite being a selected free agent drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1986. During his freshman year basketball season, McDonald made it to the elite eight, but after two seasons, he decided to focus only on baseball.

As a junior, Ben was named College Player of the Year by Sporting News and Baseball America and was also named ESPN’s Co-Player of the Year. His 373 strikeouts in a career and 202 strikeouts in a single season are still LSU records today. During the start of his 1989 season, Ben pitched for 44.2 consecutive scoreless innings, a Southeastern Conference record that stood for more than 15 seasons.

By the end of his LSU career, McDonald received the 1989 Golden Spikes Award for Top Amateur Baseball Player in the Country. During the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, McDonald threw complete game victories over Puerto Rico and Korea leading team USA to the gold medal.

Ben was the first player selected in baseball’s 1989 free agent draft, receiving the highest rating ever for a pitcher by the MLB Scouting Bureau. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles and made his major league debut in September of 1989. McDonald went on to play nine years in the MLB finishing with a 78-70 record, a 3.91 career earned run average, 24 shutouts and 894 strikeouts in 198 starts.

Ben retired at the end of the 2000 season and now resides in his hometown of Denham Springs where he stays busy working as a color analyst for the SEC Network, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and LSU Baseball and coaching his children in softball and baseball. In 2008, he was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame, and in 2010, he was inducted into Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

To view the 2023 Nicholls Baseball schedule, visit https://geauxcolonels.com/sports/baseball/schedule.

To learn more about joining the Baseball Coaches Committee, please visit https://www.nicholls.edu/caa/form-coaches-committee-baseball/.

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