By Dr. Nick Cefalu
AMITE--Approximately 150 people assembled at the Amite Community Center on Thursday, January 24 to welcome LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri and several players for the 15th Annual LSU Baseball Fundraiser.
Our guests included Coach Mainieri, pitcher Ryan Eades, left fielder Ralph Rhymes, and first baseman Mason Katz.
Ralph Rhymes led the NCAA last season in batting average and was the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. Many, many children were in attendance. It was a very entertaining evening.
The guests arrived a little early before 6 p.m.
Jason Baglio, an Elvis tribute artist, performed live commencing at 5:45 p.m. until 6:45 p.m. Our social hour commenced upon the arrival of our guests until 7:00 p.m. During this time approximately ten dozen baseballs were autographed by Coach Mainieri and the players. Refreshments were also served during this time.
Invocation was given by Fr. Mark Beard, pastor of St. Helena Catholic Church in Amite. The Pledge of Allegiance followed and a wonderful buffet meal was then served by Maurepas Catering. During the meal there was an introduction of several guests which included Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards, State Representative John Bel Edwards; our newly elected Mayor Buddy Bel; Assistant District Attorney Richard McShan; two high school coaches, Wy Spencer of Oak Forest Academy and Jeff Tageant, Franklinton High School coach.
At approximately 7:30 p.m. Coach Mainieri was introduced and the main ceremony began. Mainieri thanked the entire audience for their interest and support of LSU baseball. Coach Mainieri introduced the players one by one and each player addressed the 150 people. Mainieri spoke for approximately 30 minutes. He stated that LSU baseball is highly ranked in the pre-season poll and even as high as #3. He expects great things from this baseball team. Also, LSU has letd in national baseball attendance for the 18th year in a row. LSU drew better than 472,000 fans in 2012, which was significantly higher than its runner-up.
Mainieri is in his 7th year at LSU and won the National Championship in 2009. He is the winningest coach in LSU's history behind only the legendary Skip Bertram. Mainieri was just selected by the American Baseball Coaches Association's Hall of Fame. He is to be inducted on January 3, 2014 in Dallas. Mainieri this year was given an extension through 2017 by the LSU Board of Supervisors. Mainieri's main emphasis was that his success was only made possible by the great players that he coaches.
After his address, three presentations were made.
The first presentation made by Mayor Buddy Bel was to Mitchell Warren for his many years of donating time and efforts in support of this LSU Baseball Fundraiser. As a preparer of programs, he had also donated many hours and efforts on an annual basis in support of the fundraiser. He was presented a certificate and key to the city.
Mayor Bel also presented a second key to the city to Jon Dimiceli, owner of C.I. Sports and Connie's Impressions in Hammond. Dimiceli has also been a major sponsor and donates many hours annually in support of the fundraiser. He updates the sponsor board annually and donates baseballs as well as many other things.
The third presentation was made by Mikayla Douglas. She presented Coach Mainieri with a gift certificate to Sullivan's Restaurant in Baton Rouge in appreciation of his coming to Amite.
The evening concluded with the closing prayer by the youth minister for the Arcola Baptist Church, John Bel. After this, many photographs were taken with Coach Mainieri and the players and a few more autographs were given.
Approximately $11,000 was raised for LSU baseball thanks to everyone in attendance and all of the sponsors, as well as everyone who purchased tickets. This could never have been possible without your efforts and support. This will continue to be an annual fund raiser in the month of January here in Amite. I hope you will continue to support this effort.
The following is a list of sponsors and major supports who have made this event possible:
The City of Amite; Mayor Buddy Bel; my office staff including Jodi Warren, Carolyn Leonard and Kaitlin Webb; Dr. Joseph Cefalu; Mitchell's Glass/A-1 Tire; Clay Monroe, Attorney; Connie's Impressions; Muffaletta's; Richard McShan, Attorney; Ace Hometown Farm, Garden; Willie G. Johnson, Attorney; Sonya Castella Bradley, Attorney; Travis Amar, Attorney; Maurice Trippi, Attorney; Audio Pro D.J.; Klean-B's; Arthel Scheuermann, Attorney; Genco's Amusement Co. of Bogalusa; Drive-In Drugstore; Brian and Kay Logarbo; The Bond-Wroten Eye Clinic; Thrift-Town Health Mart Pharmacy; Michael Hingle, Attorney; Erik M. Tada, Attorney; Hood Automative; Dr. Margie Strong; Primecare Home Health; Thompson's Alignment Center; Florida Parishes Bank; Kelsey Physical Therapy; Farm Bureau Insurance; Amite Tangi-Digest; C.I. Sports; and Channell Drugs.