COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (WOOD) - Detroit Tigers President, CEO and General Manager David Dombrowski will be the guest speaker at the 19th annual Whitecaps Winter Baseball Banquet.
Joining Dombrowski as speakers at the Jan. 23 event at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids will be the Tigers' Andy Dirks, Quintin Berry and Drew Smyly.
First-year West Michigan Whitecaps manager Larry Parrish will also be in attendance.
The banquet begins at 5:45 p.m. with a silent auction of sports memorabilia and other items. There will also be a dinner, a live auction and the 2013 Whitecaps Hall of Fame induction.
Holland native and former Whitecaps and Tigers pitcher Andy Van Hekken is the lone inductee this year. He played for the Whitecaps in 2000, putting up impressive numbers that still rank among the team's finest in its 19-year history. His 16 wins that season is tied with Jon Connolly's 16 in 2003 as the team record for wins; and he still ranks in the Top 10 in team records for winning percentage (.727, 8th), ERA (2.45, 8th) and strikeouts to walks ratio (3.41, 10th).
A third-round draft pick by the Mariners in 1998, Van Hekken made his major league debut on Sept. 3, 2002 for the Tigers, throwing a complete game shutout for a victory against the Cleveland Indians. He made five major league starts that month, going 1-3 with a 3.00 ERA in 30 innings pitched.
He played in the minor leagues for the Tigers for the next two seasons, then spent the next two years with the farm systems of the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and Kansas City Royals.
In 2008, he signed with the Houston Astros and played mostly for their AAA team for four seasons. He then signed with the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization before the 2012 season.
He is scheduled to begin his second year playing in Korea shortly after the banquet.
Proceeds from the banquet go to the Whitecaps Community Foundation, which will donate all funds from the event to the YMCA Inner-City Youth Baseball and Softball Program, and the Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities. More than $505,000 has been raised through the Whitecaps Winter Banquet for the charities.
Tickets are on sale now and the deadline to purchase them is Jan. 14. Two ticket options are available for fans interested in attending the event. Corporate tables include 10 tickets to the banquet, 40 raffle tickets and preferred seating, and are $900 each. Individual tickets are $80 per person. Raffle tickets are $5 each or five for $20. Those unable to attend but willing to support the charities are welcome to donate any amount. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Whitecaps at 616.726.7017.
Fans should note that the banquet is a non-autograph event. Although patrons are welcome to bring cameras and take pictures with Tigers guests, outside memorabilia is not allowed into the banquet, and autograph collecting will not be permitted.
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