posted on November 17, 2010 11:27
Attending the Florida League’s annual Celebrity Golf Tournament leaves you with a feeling inside like the one you get when you sink an improbable golf shot. With prestige and excellence surrounding you, and an opportunity to meet baseball heroes of the past and present, you walk away with a glow inside that you can’t help bragging to your friends about.
The 2-day event, benefiting the Florida League a 501(c)(3) non-profit, kicked off with a pairings dinner at the home of Florida League CEO Sara Whiting. Dinner attendees enjoyed food catered by Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar and drinks as they casually mingled with the celebrities. In attendance on Sunday evening were Gary Carter, Fred McGriff, Hunter Pence, Davey Johnson, Vince Coleman, Mike Stanley, Ozzie Timmons, Daryl Boston, Stan Boroski and Rick Eckstein. Rick felt so moved by the cause that he recruited his brother and former World Series MVP David Eckstein to attend as well.
Mid-way through the dinner Hunter Pence, Ozzie Timmons, Stan Boroski, Rick Eckstein and Davey Johnson spoke about the importance of summer collegiate baseball and the opportunities leagues like the Florida League provide for college baseball players. Pence drew the most laughs when he compared his golf swing to his baseball swings stating “it ain’t pretty, but I’m not here for the golf”. He made it clear that he was there to support the same type of league that gave him a chance to play baseball professionally. Johnson, a manager in the Florida League for the past 2 seasons, also shared a few stories about his experiences in the Florida League and the adaptations he had to make from the pro to college game.
When the sun rose Monday morning Tim Wakefield was the first celebrity to arrive at the course. Wakefield, who participated in the event, showed up early for a special pitching lesson with Winter Park resident Nate Winters. Winters, who lost his leg in a boating accident last year, made a miraculous comeback to pitch for the Winter Park High School varsity baseball team this season. Winters is adding a knuckle-ball to his repertoire and Wakefield spent about 30 minutes giving him some pointers.
As Wakefield and Winters played catch, golfers arrived one by one to take their practice swings next to baseball legends of the past and present. There were several pre-golf highlights. First, ReMax Long Driver Trevor Consavage wowed attendees with his trick shot golf show which included a baseball theme. Golfers also had the chance to win a 5-day Carnival cruise by participating in the putting contest. Finally, each attendee was given a $100 gift card to the Nike shop that was set up on the driving range. When the clock struck Noon eighteen five-somes took to the course at Interlachen Country Club each with a chance to win a 3 day, 2 night vacation. When all was said and done it was Hall of Fame member Gary Carter’s group who took the top prize.
“I want to extend a special thank you to all of the celebrities who volunteered their time to help raise money for the Florida League” said Florida League President Rob Sitz. “I also want to thank all of the golfers who attended this event. Their support allows us to provide a place to play for the college players in the summer and community friendly games. It also helps us run the Ken Griffey Jr. Youth League with the Boys and Girls clubs of Central Florida.”
A full list of tournament celebrities includes Gary Carter, Fred McGriff, Hunter Pence, Davey Johnson, Vince Coleman, Tim Wakefield, Mike Stanley, Ozzie Timmons, Daryl Boston, Stan Boroski, Rick Eckstein, Mitch Talbot, Luke Gregerson, Ryan Hannigan, Sal Butera, Drew Butera, Manny Trillo, Jim Hickey, Heathcliff Slocumb, and Lance Niekro.