By Trevor Busch
Fundraising efforts are underway as the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball prepare to get the 2023 season started, and one key component of that mix is the Annual Awards and Scholarship Dinner hosted this Saturday at the Vauxhall Community Hall.
This year’s featured speaker is former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Ricky Romero.
“We got Ricky coming in. It’s our seventeenth banquet,” said Vauxhall Jets head coach Les McTavish. “So, you know, I know him a little bit through the Blue Jays stuff. So we’re excited to have him out.”
Romero was a first round draft pick by the Blue Jays in 2005 at sixth overall, was a 2011 MLB Allstar, pitched opening day for the Blue Jays in 2012, and currently works as an analyst with Sportsnet. Romero was with the Jays at the MLB level from 2009 – 2013, and posted a career 51-45 win-loss record.
McTavish explained how the VAB selects its guest speakers, and many come to Vauxhall through relationships the head coach has established over the years.
“It’s usually just somebody who I’ve developed a relationship with, either through coaching that’s Tournament 12 with the Blue Jays or former Canadians that play in the big leagues. So usually we try our best to have some Blue Jays roots, but at the at the end of the day, it’s either Blue Jays roots or Canadian.”
Very little has changed regarding the fundraising dinner’s itinerary, with McTavish detailing some of the big ticket items, including signed jerseys.
“We have a silent auction with about 70 items. Then we have a live auction with about eight items…we have a really cool Blue Jays getaway where you’d stay in field view rooms and get four tickets to a three game series against the Angels, and then on-field batting practice with the Blue Jays. So yeah, there’s all sorts of different items. We’re pretty excited about it. It’s really important to our programme, I think now more than ever, with the way inflation (has impacted) everything else. Every little bit helps.”
One change to the evening’s format will see a reduction in the number of awards that are usually handed out during the event.
“We used to give away tons of our awards,” said McTavish. “But now all we really will do is five awards at the banquet, and the rest of the evening’s more about the silent auction, the live auction. So the top award would be the Reno Lizzi Award.”
McTavish expects a good turnout for the Saturday fundraising event.
“We are getting probably about 240-250 people so it should be a nice event…a chance to listen and be inspired by a former big leaguer.”
Cocktails are at 5 p.m., with the dinner at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Lynda at Lynda.firstname.lastname@example.org or Dominique at email@example.com, or by calling 403-654-2145.