Nolan Ryan & Terry Francona to Host Kings of the Diamond Dinner
Hall of Famer and American League Manager of the Year to Kick Off Big League Weekend
(San Antonio, TX) – The fifth annual Kings of the Diamond Dinner will feature Terry Francona, the reigning American League Manager of the Year, and Nolan Ryan, baseball’s all-time strikeout leader, Ryan Sanders Baseball officials announced Thursday.
The “Kings of the Diamond” dinner takes place on Thursday, March 16 at the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk. Doors open at 6 p.m. for a cocktail hour before the dinner kicks off at 7 p.m. The event will benefit HeartGift, the Miracle League of San Antonio and the Nolan Ryan Foundation.
The annual dinner has included several of baseball’s most influential players including Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Gaylord Perry (2014), Pete Rose (2015) and the Kansas City Royals George Brett last year. “We’ve had the opportunity to hear candid conversations from the game’s best over the last three years,” Ryan Sanders CEO Reese Ryan said. “By bringing in Terry, fans will get to see the game from the perspective of not only a player, but one of the winningest managers in baseball.”
Former San Antonio Express-News columnist and senior writer Richard Oliver will once again serve as moderator.
The event kicks off the H-E-B Big League Weekend 2017, a two-game Major League Baseball exhibition hosted at the iconic Alamodome in downtown San Antonio. This year features the American League West Champion Texas Rangers and the American League Champion Cleveland Indians. The games will be played on Friday, March 17 (7 p.m.) and Saturday, March 18 (2 p.m.).
“Bringing in Terry Francona for this event adds an element to it I think fans will really enjoy,” Nolan Ryan said. “Terry offers a different kind of insight from the dugout, bringing a World Series perspective with him.”
Francona has 16 years of managerial experience, compiling a 1,381-1,209 (.533) record with Philadelphia (1997-2000), Boston (2004-11) and Cleveland (2013-16). He has won the AL Manager of the Year Award twice (2013, 2016) and was named Baseball America’s Manager of the Year in 2007 and 2016. His 12 consecutive winning seasons is the longest streak by any active MLB manager and the longest since Joe Torre’s 14-year streak (1996-09). He has led three teams to the World Series, winning the Fall Classic with Boston in 2004 and 2007. He was also the first manager in Major League history to win his first eight, then 10 consecutive World Series games. Francona was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1980 (22nd overall) and played parts of 10 seasons in the Major Leagues as a first baseman/outfielder.
Elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, Nolan Ryan was inducted on July 25, 1999, on 98.79% of the eligible ballots, a figure which remains the second highest in history. He is the only player to ever have his uniform number retired by three different teams with the Angels (#30), Astros (#34) and Rangers (#34).
The all-time leader in strikeouts (5,714) and no-hitters (7), Nolan has owned or shared 53 Major League records. He is fifth in lifetime innings (5,387), tied for seventh in shutouts (61), and tied for 13th in victories (324) while his 773 starts are second only to Cy Young (815). An eight-time All-Star, Ryan also threw 12 one-hitters, tying Bob Feller for the most ever, and owns two of the top four single-season strikeout totals in Major League history, including an all-time best 383 K’s with the Angels in 1973. He fanned 10 or more batters a major-league record 215 times.
Pre-dinner activities on March 16 include media opportunities as well as a VIP reception.
To purchase a table for the Kings of the Diamond dinner, go to www.bigleagueweekend.com or contact Elisa Fogle via email or by phone at 210-229-1847. For more information on H-E-B Big League Weekend, fans can also go to Facebook.com/SABigLeagueWeekend or @SABigLeagueWeekend. *Individual ticket sales to the Kings of the Diamond Dinner are not available at this time.
ABOUT RYAN SANDERS BASEBALL
Combine a 27-year, Hall of Fame baseball career with more than 50 years of savvy business approaches and the roots of Ryan Sanders Baseball begin to take hold. Today, the group is comprised of more than 60 minority shareholders, many of them former professional baseball players. Established by Nolan Ryan, Major League Baseball's all-time strikeout king, his son, Reid, and Houston businessman Don Sanders, Ryan Sanders Baseball laid down its foundation in Round Rock when it purchased the Jackson Generals and moved the team to Texas for the 2000 season. Over the past 18 years, Ryan Sanders has owned and operated two of the most successful franchises in minor league baseball. The group, led by CEO Reese Ryan, currently owns and operates the Round Rock Express (Texas Rangers AAA) as well as Ryan Sanders Sports Services (RS3).
HeartGift's purpose is to provide the necessary surgery including funds, coordination of care, and medical services for children with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) living in countries where specialized medical treatments is scare or nonexistent. Established in June of 2000, HeartGift began its work in Austin, TX. After establishing a successful model that made great impact, the organization expanded to form additional chapters. Chapters are located in Austin, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and San Antonio. HeartGift has now served over 250 children and families from 30 countries.
ABOUT MIRACLE LEAGUE OF SAN ANTONIO
Founded by Michael Miller in 2003, Miracle League of San Antonio is a 501(c)3 charitable organization that provides children with mental and/or physical challenges an opportunity to play baseball in an organized league. Miracle League of San Antonio operates a fully-lit, four-acre complex that includes the Mays Family Field of Dreams, a custom-designed venue that incorporates cushioned synthetic turf that can accommodate wheelchairs and other walking assistance devices. During each Miracle League game, every child is given an opportunity to hit the ball and score a run. Miracle League team members are assigned “buddies” who assist them in hitting the ball and “running” the bases. Buddies can be fellow schoolmates, parents, college students, business leaders or anyone who wishes to volunteer his time to give a child the gift of baseball.
ABOUT THE NOLAN RYAN FOUNDATION
The Nolan Ryan Foundation is a nonprofit organization formed in Alvin, TX in 1990. The Foundation moved to Round Rock, TX in 2016. Nolan and Ruth Ryan generously give their time for a wide variety of fundraising efforts that enable the foundation to provide resources for youth, education and community development.
Pitching in for a better future, the Nolan Ryan Foundation has disbursed funds for projects such as fulfilling a pledge to the Greater Houston YMCA, contributing to Girl Scouts of America, Alvin Community College sports program, the Miracle League of Austin, as well as providing scholarships to high school seniors who are entering college and other local community projects.
ABOUT RICHARD OLIVER
Richard Oliver was sports editor of the Express-News from 2001-03 before moving into the role of columnist and senior writer. Prior to joining the newspaper in 2000 as deputy sports editor, Oliver covered pro football for almost five years as a senior staff writer for Newsday in New York. He was a sports writer, columnist and sports editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times from 1983-1996. Prior to that, he worked for a year at the Bryan-College Station Eagle. Oliver, a 1981 graduate of Texas A&M University, is now Director of Communications for the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau. He and his wife, Laura, have three adult children.