Jan. 11, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Notre Dame baseball program's seventh annual Opening Night Dinner will be held in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Feb. 12 - with Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and former Notre Dame standout Greg Lopez will serve as the keynote speakers at the popular event.
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 2008 season ticket (a $50 value, covering 23 regular-season games), a 2008 media guide ($15 value), autographed 8x10 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. A PDF order form is linked above.
A new addition to this year's festivities includes the recognition of Notre Dame softball coach Deanna Gumpf and the 2008 Irish softball squad. Each admission to the dinner also guarantees a 2008 season ticket (a $50 value, covering 16 regular-season game) for the inaugural season in Melissa Cook Stadium.
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.
Selig was elected the ninth Commissioner of Baseball on July 9, 1998 by a unanimous vote of the 30 Major League Baseball club owners.
Selig was born on July 30, 1934 in Milwaukee and received a bachelor's degree in American History and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1956. After serving two years in the armed forces, he returned to Milwaukee and began working in the automobile business with his father. Selig maintains a tie to that industry as president of the Selig Executive Lease Company.
A life-long baseball fan, Selig, while growing up, followed the old Milwaukee Brewers minor league team and the Chicago Cubs. He became a Braves fan when the National League franchise moved to Milwaukee from Boston in 1953. He subsequently became the team's largest public stockholder before selling his stock in 1965 when the team moved to Atlanta.
Upon learning of the Braves' intended move to Atlanta, Selig founded "Teams, Inc." an organization dedicated to returning Major League baseball to Milwaukee. The group, which later changed its name to "The Brewers," arranged for several Chicago White Sox games to be played in Milwaukee in 1968.
After failing to purchase the White Sox in 1969, Selig's efforts were finally rewarded on April 1, 1970, when a Seattle bankruptcy court awarded the Seattle Pilots franchise to Selig and his investors.
The Brewers appeared in the 1982 World Series, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. The club won seven "Organization of the Year" awards during Selig's tenure as club president, including the TOPPS "Organization of the Year" award in 1987, '89, '91, and '92. In addition, the Brewers won an unprecedented three-straight Baseball America awards from 1985-87.
Selig is a member of the Board of Directors of the Green Bay Packers, Inc., Marcus Corporation and the Oil-Dri Corporation of America. He is also on the Board of Visitors for the Department of Political Science and the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin. Selig is a member of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, the Boys and Girls Clubs Board of Trustees, is a founder of Athletes for Youth and was instrumental in establishing the Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Fund.
Bud and his wife, Sue, are very active in the Milwaukee community and were co-recipients of the "1990 Humanitarian Award" from the St. Francis Children's Center. They also lend their support and time to the Milwaukee Art Museum. In July of 2001, the Allan H. and Suzanne L. Selig Merit Scholarship Fund were established at the Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Selig, who was active in the governance of Major League Baseball during his tenure as President of the Milwaukee Brewers, was a member of the Major League Executive Council when Commissioner Fay Vincent resigned on September 7, 1992. In accordance with the Major League Agreement, which grants the Executive Council the authority to rule Baseball in the absence of a Commissioner, Selig became the central figure in Baseball's power structure on September 9, 1992 when his fellow owners named him Chairman of the Major League Executive Council.
Selig served a dual role as President of the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club and Chairman of the Executive Council until his appointment as Commissioner on July 9, 1998. At that time his financial interest in the club was placed in trust and he relinquished involvement in all matters dealing with the operation of the Brewers. In January 2005, the Brewers were sold to Mark Attanasio, thus ending Selig's 35-year relationship with the club.
Under his leadership as Executive Council Chairman and Commissioner, new stadiums have opened in Arizona, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis and Texas. In 2008, a new ballpark will open in Washington, D.C. to serve as the home of the Nationals. Other new ballparks are in development for the Minnesota Twins, for the Athletics and in New York for the Mets and Yankees.
Despite presiding over the game during a troubled period that included a 272-day player strike in 1994 and 1995, Selig is in the process of guiding the game through a significant renaissance. Major League Baseball has set all-time attendance records in each of the last four years. In 2007, attendance showed four percent growth from 2006 as 79,503,175 fans attended regular season games at the 30 Major League ballparks. And, revenues have increased more than four-fold, from $1.2 billion in 1992 to $5.2 billion in 2006.
Bud and his wife, Sue, have three daughters and five granddaughters.
Lopez was a two-year captain and three-year starting shortstop for the Irish from 2003-06. He filled lead role as Notre Dame compiled one of the best four-year records in all of college baseball during his career (179-71-2, .714), Lopez capped his career in 2006 helping Notre Dame reach the NCAA Regionals and earning Academic All-America honors. Lopez was a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection. He ended his career as Notre Dame's all-time leader in total sacrifices (48; 32 sacrifice bunts, 16 sacrifice flies), plus second in sacrifice bunts, fourth in career fielding assists (584), seventh in times hit-by-pitch (34), eighth in games played (230) and 10th in games started (217) and at-bats (746). Lopez's other career stats included a .294 batting avg., 219 hits, 31 doubles, 131 RBI, 122 runs, 38 walks, 116 strikeouts, 7-of-15 stolen bases, a pair of triples and a .934 fielding percentage (63 errors).
Lopez, who was selected in the 2006 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 33rd round, is currently in medical school at the University of Texas-San Antonio. While a Notre Dame, he was one of five Irish student-athletes who received the 2006 Arthur Ashe Award, recognizing students of color who exemplify the all-around standards set by the tennis great. Lopez was an invited participant in the ND athletics Academic Honors faculty mentoring program and also served as a member of the Presidential Committee on Diversity, the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and the athletic department's Leadership Institute. He graduated with a 3.40 cumulative grade-point average, as a double major in pre-professional studies and anthropology.
The baseball program's first Opening Night Dinner, featuring Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, attracted nearly 1,000 attendees prior to the 2002 season before similar numbers braved a snowstorm to attend the 2003 event that included Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry as the lead speaker. Attendance then swelled to more than 1,300 in 2004, when bestselling author and lifelong baseball fan John Grisham served as the marquee name. One year later, an overflow crowd of nearly 1,800 area baseball fans were on hand for the 2005 event, as two members of the Houston Astros - seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens and closer Brad Lidge (a former standout with the Irish) - served as the keynote speakers. The 2006 event again was a sellout, with attendance in the range of 1,800 to spend a night with Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis and former Irish pitching ace Aaron Heilman (now a top pitcher for the New York Mets). Last year, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland and former Irish All-American Craig Counsell and current Arizona Diamondback spoke before the third consecutive sellout crowd.
It is recommended that ticket orders for the 2008 event be placed by Jan. 26 to ensure the attendee a media guide and eligibility for the prize drawings. For dinner ticket information, please contact the Notre Dame ticket office at (574) 631-7356. Online order may be placed via the "Tickets" link on und.com, with the direct link listed at top of this release.
Tickets also can be ordered in person at the Joyce Center second-floor ticket window (starting Jan. 17) while phone orders (574-631-7356) can be done with VISA, MasterCard or American Express. 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 Nicole Jones in the Notre Dame sports promotions office (574-631-3264).