Jan. 8, 2003
Michiana-area baseball fans once again will have the chance to participate in a special event on Tuesday, Feb. 4, when the Notre Dame baseball program will present its 2003 “Opening Night Dinner.” Chicago Cubs vice president/general manager Jim Hendry – a longtime friend of Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri and the college coach of Irish associate head coach Brian O’Connor – will serve as the guest speaker at the event, which again should provide plenty of preseason excitement for the Notre Dame baseball program and its fans.
The special night – which attracted nearly 1,000 attendees prior to the 2002 season, with Hall-of-Fame manager Tommy Lasorda serving as the ’02 speaker – also will provide those attending with the opportunity to visit with members of Notre Dame’s nationally-ranked baseball team. The $25 admission price ($15 for students and youth) includes a Notre Dame baseball 2003 season ticket and several advance promotional items.
“Everyone associated with Notre Dame baseball is excited for the approaching season and we are glad to provide our fans with another great opening-night dinner,” said Mainieri. “Last year’s event springboarded our team to an unforgettable season and unparalleled enthusiasm for the program, while also establishing a great season-ticket base.
“Knowing that so many Notre Dame fans also are Cubs fans, and also considering Jim’s background as a college coach in this area of the country, we felt that it would be a natural for the Irish fans to hear from him. It should be a great night.”
Mainieri served as an assistant baseball coach under Hendry at Christopher Columbus High School (1980-83) while O’Connor was a pitcher on the Hendry-coached Creighton baseball teams in 1990 and ’91 (O’Connor played two more seasons with the Blue Jays while Hendry began his pro baseball career in 1991, with the Florida Marlins organization).
Hendry can easily relate to Notre Dame’s experience of advancing to the 2002 College World Series, as he guided hometown favorite Creighton to a third-place finish at the 1991 CWS in Omaha. O’Connor pitched in a classic battle versus Wichita State during the ’91 postseason run, with that game remaining on the short list as one of the greatest games in CWS history. Hendry later was named by Baseball America as the 1991 national coach of the year.
The “ballpark-style” dinner will begin at 7:00 p.m., in the Joyce Center fieldhouse. The night’s festivities include the opportunity to win a variety of baseball and sports-related door prizes while Notre Dame baseball coach Paul Mainieri will introduce the Irish team members, who will be available for autographs from 6:00-6:45 in the Fieldhouse.
Admission is $25 for adults and $15 for high school/college students and youth. Each person attending the banquet will receive a general-admission season ticket for the entire 2003 Notre Dame baseball regular-season schedule. Banquet attendees also will receive advance copies of the Notre Dame baseball media guide and other promotional items – with the chance to have those items autographed by the Notre Dame players.
The ballpark atmosphere also will include big-screen video highlights and game tapes from Notre Dame’s 2002 College World Series season, plus a musical selection of traditional and contemporary baseball songs.
For dinner ticket information, please contact Jeff Schmal at (574) 631-3264.
JIM HENDRY BIOGRAPHY
Hendry, who is in his ninth campaign with the Cubs, was named the team’s vice president/general manager on July 5, 2002 (he had been promoted to vice president of player personnel the previous October). After joining the Cubs in 1994 as director of player development, Hendry took over as the club’s scouting director in 1995. He served in the dual role as director of player development and scouting from 1998 until his promotion to assistant general manager in August 2000.
Prior to working for the Cubs, Hendry spent three years in the Florida Marlins’ organization as a special assistant to general manager Dave Dombrowski, also serving as a scout and a minor league manager. He was the manager at Gulf Coast (rookie level) in 1993 and single-A Elmira in 1994.
Hendry was named Creighton’s head coach in the middle of the 1984 season and compiled a 282-171-2 record in eight seasons with the Blue Jays. He recruited and coached 24 players who went on to the professional ranks – including eight who reached the majors (Alan Benes, Scott Servais, Scott Stahoviak, Mike Heathcott, Dan Smith, Kimera Bartee, Dax Jones and Tom Drees).
His six-year coaching tenure at Christopher Columbus included working with future Major League players Orestes Destrade and Rob Murphy.
A 1977 graduate of Spring Hill College, with a degree in communications and journalism, Hendry went on to earn a 1980 master’s degree in athletic administration from Biscayne College in Miami (now St. Thomas University).
Hendry and his wife, Andrea, have two children: Lauren and John.