Jan. 29, 2009

Notre Dame, Ind – Two sport Monogram winner Jeff Samardzija and Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia will be the keynote speakers at The Notre Dame baseball program’s eighth annual Opening Night Dinner will be held in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse on Thursday, Feb. 5.

As in recent years, fans are encouraged to purchase tickets early to ensure their spot at the special night, which provides attendees the opportunity to visit with members of the Notre Dame baseball team. The $50 admission price ($30 for students, youth and seniors) includes a Notre Dame baseball 2009 season ticket (a $50 value, covering 24 regular-season games), a 2009 media guide ($15 value), autographed 8×10 photographs of each speaker and several other advance promotional items. A special “fan pack” price of $120 also is available, providing admission and the other dinner benefits for two adults and two youth.

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 and introduction of the Notre Dame team members, who will be seated at tables with the rest of the attendees and will be available for autographs prior to the dinner, from 6:00-6:45. 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.

A standout student-athlete at the University of Notre Dame, Samardzija made his MLB debut for the Cubs this past season. He went 1-0 with a 2.28 ERA in 26 appearances out of the Chicago bullpen and helped the Cubs capture the 2008 N.L. Central Division title. Samardzija struck out 25 and walked 15 in 27.2 innings of work. He registered his first career victory on August 29 against the eventual World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies. Samardzija tossed 1.1 innings of scoreless relief as the Cubs rallied for a 3-2 victory. He also picked up his first career save on July 27 against the Florida Marlins. Samardzija worked 2.0 scoreless innings of relief and fanned three Marlins along the way.

Samardzija went 8-2 with a 4.33 ERA (47 ER/97.2 IP) in 15 starts in his last season with the Fighting Irish (2006). He closed out the `06 campaign with three straight outings of 8.0 or more innings while striking out 61 and walking 37 on the season. Samardzija allowed just three home runs in 97.2 innings of work and was named first team All-Big East. He went 21-6 with a 3.82 ERA (102 ER/240.1 IP) in 50 career games (31 starts) for Notre Dame. Just 12 pitchers in the 114-year history of Notre Dame baseball have won more games in their careers than Samardzija (each with 22-plus wins). Overall, he surrendered just 11 home runs in his 240.1 innings of work and struck out 159 while walking 84.

The Valparaiso, Ind., native was also a star wide receiver on the Notre Dame football team. He led the football team with 78 receptions and 1,017 receiving yards in 2006, his senior season, and was named first team All-America by the Football Writers Association of America. In 2005, he set Notre Dame single-season records for yards receiving (1,249) and touchdown catches (15).

Scioscia’s son Matt is currently a sophomore on the Irish baseball team. Mike is the third longest tenured skipper in Major League Baseball (only behind Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves; Tony LaRussa, St. Louis Cardinals), just wrapped up his ninth season as manager of the Angels. He owns a 797-661 (.547) record as manager and has led the Angels to playoff appearances in five of the last seven years. Scioscia also led the 2002 club to the only World Series Championship in franchise history. He is the only manager in Angels’ history to record more than two playoff appearances and only to win three division titles. Scioscia averages nearly 89 wins per season (88.6), the most per season in club history and has led the Angels to five consecutive winnings seasons (2004-08), the first time in club history.