EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State baseball will hold its 15th Annual First Pitch Dinner on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. Tickets are on sale for the event, which will begin at 6 p.m. with a silent auction and player autographs. Dinner and a formal program will follow at 7 p.m.
This year’s event will feature 2003 World Series Champion and 2017 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Iván “Pudge” Rodríguez as the keynote speaker, while honoring Bill Wooley as the Alumnus of the Year.
Rodríguez was a 21-year MLB veteran, playing for the Texas Rangers, Florida Marlins, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Washington Nationals. Regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in the history of baseball, Rodríguez is the major league career leader in putouts by catchers, and set an MLB record by catching in 2,427 games at catcher, passing Carlton Fisk. During his career, Rodríguez also had the best caught stealing percentage of any major league catcher, at 45.68 percent.
In 2003, Rodríguez help lead the Florida Marlins to the World Series, and also played in the 2006 World Series while with the Tigers. He was named the 1999 American League MVP, the 2003 National League NLCS MVP and was a 14-time All-Star. Rodríguez was a 13-time Gold Glove recipient and won seven Silver Sluggers.
Rodríguez was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown in 2017, his first year of eligibility, receiving 76 percent of the votes cast, and was officially inducted on July 30, 2017. Rodríguez’s number 7 was retired by the Texas Rangers in 2017.
Bill Wooley was a four-year letterwinner for the Spartan baseball team from 1964-67. He was utility infielder on the freshman team in 1964 for head coach Tom Smith, before moving up to varsity and was utility infielder and team manager from 1965-67 for head coach Danny Litwhiler.
A native of Detroit, Mich., Wooley graduated from Michigan State University College of Business in 1967 with a bachelor’s of business administration (BBA) with general business and marketing emphasis. Wooley began his business career in July 1967 with the Dupont Corporation, in the textile fibers division in New York City, where he worked for nine years until 1976. He joined Johnson & Johnson in the healthcare industry in 1976 with a career track in sales, product management, where he was General Manager/Vice President for 22 years before retiring in 1998. Wooley was Chairman of the Board for NICORE, Inc. (1999-2006) and was president of the private startup company with products to treat congestive heart problems, before retiring in 2006.
Wooley was also an assistant baseball coach at Eastlake High School in Tarpon Springs, Florida for 12 years, where he coached approximately 10 players who made it to Major League Baseball, most notably utility player Chris Coghlan, who was in the Majors for 10 years, winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 2009 with the Florida Marlins, also playing for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
Wooley and his wife, Mary (Bigelow), who is a 1967 MSU alum with her education degree, met at MSU in the fall term of their freshman year and dated all through college, and have been married 52 years. They have three children, twins Daniel and Deborah, and daughter Alicia, and four grandchildren.
Bill and Mary Wooley live in Greer, South Carolina.
The 2020 MSU Baseball First Pitch Dinner will feature a silent auction, door prizes, player autographs, a team poster, 2020 season ticket card and special tribute to the Annual Crosstown Showdown between the Spartans and Lansing Lugnuts.
Tickets for the First Pitch Dinner range in price from $25 per person for children and students (8th grade and under), $35 for college students (with student ID), $50 for Spartan baseball alumni and $60 each for adults. Sponsored tables of eight are also available.
For more information on the 2019 First Pitch Dinner, visit MSUSpartans.com, or call Theresa Ryan in the MSU baseball office at 517-353-0816 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.