PointBlank bloggers and Direct Capital employees Dave Choate and Matt Sullivan had the opportunity to attend the 2011 Granite State Baseball Dinner in Manchester, New Hampshire on Saturday. Dave’s account of the event follows.
Any time you can pair charity with famous baseball players and a free dinner, you’ve won the weekend.
The 2011 Granite State Baseball Dinner brought hundreds of people to the Radisson Expo in Manchester to dine and get autographs from a host of stars current (St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter), past (Boston Bruins legend Terry O’Reilly) and future (Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect Alex Cobb). Direct Capital was a sponsor of the event, and Matt and I were lucky enough to host a table.
It ended up being a great night. The floor was open for autographs for the first two hours, and lines snaked their way throughout the expo center as people clutched baseballs, baseball card and hats awaiting unintelligible signatures. All the proceeds from tickets, a silent auction and a live auction were split between the Children’s Hospital at Darmouth, the Ted Williams Baseball Museum and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats Foundation, which do wonderful things for youth in the state.
You’re probably interested in the highlights, though. As a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan, appearing at an event with Carpenter was something of a dream come true. I rehearsed what I would say to the man who pitched the Cardinals past the Texas Rangers in Game 7 of this year’s World Series for the entire time I was in line. That wound up being nearly 45 minutes, in which I was distracted repeatedly by the woman in front of me pulling out a dizzying array of cards for Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Jeff Locke to sign.
What came out, moments after I handed a baseball to him, was this:
Me: “THANKS FOR A GREAT SEASON!”
Carpenter: “Thank you.”
So at least I can say I talked to him.
Our two esteemed guests, friends of Direct Capital customer J & B Butcher, were better prepared. By the end of the two-hour signing period, they had gotten autographs from nearly everyone there on baseballs, hockey pucks and programs.
After we all sat down to dinner, the organizers showed a nice video tribute to Mike Flanagan, a New Hampshire native and Orioles great who died earlier this year too young. They also presented an award to Fisher Cats outfielder Anthony Gose, a rising star who swiped 70 bags a year ago and looked a little dazed by the whole thing.
Giving a nod to Carpenter’s years of dedication to the dinner and charities in N.H., the Fisher Cat Foundation announced that they were creating a scholarship in his name.
From there, it moved on to the live auction. The highlights there included players giggling at the auctioneer, who had his shtick honed, and Chris Carpenter mock-threatening—at least I think it was mock—a woman who kept trying to outbid him for a signed Steven Tyler guitar. He wound up taking it home for $3,000, adding to a collection I understand is pretty extensive.
Another highlight came in the Q&A session toward the end of the evening. Terry O’Reilly was particularly animated, but the answer of the night came from Jordan Cote, a local kid drafted in the third round by the Yankees earlier this year. Here’s the paraphrased version:
Question: Do you think that people in New Hampshire are behind you, are supporting you?
Cote: I think they support me. I just don’t think they want me to win.
I haven’t yet heard how much the dinner raised for charity, but I know it numbers in the thousands of dollars. Many, many thanks to the organizers for pulling together such a great event.
Have you ever been to the dinner, or one like it? Let us know!