Dec. 19, 2003
Michiana-area baseball fans once again will have the chance to participate in a special event on Thursday, Feb. 5, when the Notre Dame baseball program will present its third annual 2004 “Opening Night Dinner.” Bestselling author John Grisham – a lifelong baseball fan and an active supporter of the game on the youth and collegiate level – will serve as the guest speaker at the Joyce Center event, which again should provide plenty of preseason excitement for the Notre Dame baseball program and its fans. Former Notre Dame All-America centerfielder Steve Stanley (’02), currently a member of the Oakland A’s farm system, also will be part of the speaking agenda for the Feb. 5 dinner.
The special night – which attracted nearly 1,000 attendees prior to the 2002 season before similar numbers braved a snowstorm to attend the 2003 event – also will provide attendees 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 2004 season ticket, a 2004 media guide and several other advance promotional items.
Grisham follows in the footsteps of two noteworthy baseball figures – Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda (’02) and current Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry (’03) – who have shown their support for the Notre Dame baseball program as guest speakers for the Opening Night Dinners.
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 Mainieri will introduce the Notre Dame team members, who will be available for autographs prior to the dinner, from 5:45-6:45 in the Fieldhouse. The ballpark atmosphere also will include big-screen video highlights and game tapes from previous Notre Dame seasons, plus a musical selection of traditional and contemporary baseball songs.
Tickets will go on sale Jan. 5 and it is recommend that ticket orders be place by Jan. 20 to ensure the attendee a media guide and eligibility for the prize drawings (tickets still will be available until Feb. 5, space permitting). For dinner ticket information, please contact the Notre Dame ticket office at (574) 631-7356. Tickets also can be ordered in person at the Joyce Center second-floor ticket window (starting Jan. 5) while phone orders can be done with VISA, MasterCard or American Express. PDF dinner-ticket forms are available at und.com and the completed forms can be faxed to (574) 631-0854. Checks should be made payable to the University of Notre Dame and mailed to the Notre Dame Ticket Office, 113 Joyce Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Ticket office hours are Mon.-Fri., 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. EST.
For additional information (excluding ticket orders) on the Opening Night Dinner, contact John Gumpf in the Notre Dame baseball office (574-631-6366) or Tom Puzio in the Notre Dame Sports Promotions Office (574-631-8476).
“Everyone associated with Notre Dame baseball is excited for the 2004 season and we are glad to provide our fans with another great opening-night dinner,” said Notre Dame 10th-year head coach Paul Mainieri. “The previous two events springboarded our team to unforgettable seasons and unparalleled enthusiasm for the program, while also establishing a great season-ticket base.
“This year’s combination of speakers should provide fans with some tremendous motivational messages and insights into the great game of baseball. John Grisham and Steve Stanley both have a great love for baseball and people will find their comments both inspirational and informative.”
Dubbed the “bestselling novelist of the 1990s,” Grisham is known worldwide for his 15 novels that have defined the genre of legal thriller. His ties to baseball include serving as a Little League commissioner in Charlottesville, Va., and building six ballfields on his property. He has been a longtime supporter of the baseball program at his alma mater, Mississippi State, and his appreciation for Notre Dame baseball was sparked by ND’s popularity with the rapid Mississippi State fans (after the Irish played at Dudy Noble Field in 2000 and ’01).
He also had the chance to visit with the Irish coaches last spring while Notre Dame was competing in Jacksonville, Fla., and Grisham’s son Ty is a roommate and teammate of Adam Laird (brother of former ND pitcher Matt Laird) on the University of Virginia baseball team – where he is coached by former Notre Dame associate head coach Brian O’Connor.
John Grisham Biographical Information (also see www.jgrisham.com)
Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, John Grisham was working 60-70 hours a week at a small law practice in Southaven, Miss., squeezing in time to work on his hobby of writing his first novel.
Born Feb. 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Ark., to a construction worker and a homemaker, Grisham’s childhood was filled with dreams of being a professional baseball player. He later shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State, graduated from law school at Ole Miss in (’81) and went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1983 and served until 1990. He served from 1988-90 as the House’s vice-chairman of the Committee on Apportionment and Elections.
Grisham was inspired by a conversation he overheard at the Dessoto County courthouse, sparking a novel exploring what would have happened if a young girl’s father had murdered her assailants. He spent three years writing A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987, with a modest first printing of 5,000 copies in 1988.
He soon began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to a seemingly perfect law firm. When he sold The Firm filming rights to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.
The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit No. 1 on the bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at No. 1, confirmed Grisham’s reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Renewed interest in A Time to Kill led to republishing by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell – yielding another bestseller.
Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (others include The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers and The Last Juror, to be released in 2004) and all of them have become bestsellers, leading Publishers Weekly to declare him “the bestselling novelist of the 1990s” in a 1998 profile.
There currently are over 60 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, translated into 29 languages. Seven of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, and A Painted House), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man .
Grisham took time off from writing in 1996 to return to the courtroom, honoring an earlier commitment to represent the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. He successfully argued the case, earning a jury award of $683,500 – the biggest verdict of his career.
When he’s not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including mission trips with his church group. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams – and he served for several years as coach of his son Ty’s youth baseball teams.
Grisham lives with his wife Renee and their children Ty and Shea. The family splits their time between their Victorian home on a farm in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, Va.
Steve Stanley Biographical Data
Closed his stellar Notre Dame career as one of just four players (two position players) in the nation to earn consensus first team All-America honors for the 2002 season, also being a
Stanley finished his career ranked third in Division I history with 385 career hits.
finalist for various national player-of-the-year awards … finished career ranked second in Division I history for consecutive starts (all 256 of his career) and third in hits (385) while ranking at or near the top of nearly every ND career category, including: 1st in hits, starts, runs scored (256), stolen bases (116), at-bats (1,003) and games played (256); 2nd in total bases (461) and sacrifice bunts (30); 3rd in batting average (.384), 7th in walks (126), 9th in triples (12), 11th in on-base pct. (.449) and 13th in doubles (47) … also set BIG EAST career records for hits in conference games (154), runs (110), games (102) and ABs (99), plus 2nd with .381 career BIG EAST batting and 3rd with 7 triples … totaled just 8 career errors while patrolling center field for all but 25 innings from ’99-’02 (including strings of 765 consecutive innings played and 50 games without an error) … did not endure a hitting “slump” of more than two games over his final three seasons … ranked as nation’s “hardest to strike out” in 2002, averaging 24.6 at-bats per K … collected seven double-digit hitting streaks in his career … led 2002 team to the College World Series (ND’s first appearance sine 1957), with BIG EAST-leading numbers in 2002 for batting average (.439, 7th in nation, 3rd in ND history; also hit .400 in ’01), on-base pct. (.506; 7th ND history), runs (77, 4th ND history; also 76 in ’01), hits (ND record 119; also 102 in ’01) and total bases (147), also ranking 2nd among the conference’s players in SBs (32, 4th ND history; also 31 in ’01), 3rd in walks (38) and 4th in triples (4) … sparked comeback win over Rice in CWS elimination game, driving one-out, full-count, opposite-field triple to right-center gap before scoring to tie the game in the 9th (ND won 5-3 moments later, on Brian Stavisky’s home run) … the only repeat BIG EAST player of the year in the league’s history, he also posted 2002 BIG EAST-best numbers for conference batting avg. (.431), runs (30) and hits (44) in BIG EAST regular-season games, also ranking 3rd in league on-base pct. (.508), 4th in SBs (11), 6th in total bases (57) and 8th in doubles (8) … his other ’02 numbers included just 11 strikeouts in 331 plate appearances (30.1 PAs per K) and one error in 159 fielding chances (.994 fielding pct.) … collected hits in all nine 2002 NCAA Tournament games, yielding a .430 career batting average in the NCAAs (40-for-93, with 26 runs in 22 NCAA games) … helped Irish compile four-year record of 188-67-1, with unprecedented four straight trips to the NCAAs … posted 123 multi-hit games and was a .505 career hitter at Eck Stadium … 2nd-round draft pick of the Oakland A’s, playing the past two seasons with single-A Modesto A’s and double-A Midland Rockhounds … native of Upper Arlington, Ohio, where he starred in baseball and basketball at Worthington Christian High School.