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Dec. 31, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State baseball program will host its annual First Pitch Dinner on Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Penn Stater. Former MLB All-Star and current MLB Network analyst Mitch Williams has been selected to serve as the keynote speaker for the evening. Penn State head coach Rob Cooper will also provide remarks during the banquet.
The First Pitch Dinner is a part of an exciting weekend for Penn State baseball, as the team prepares for the 2014 season. The Nittany Lions will host a kid's clinic from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday morning followed by a practice from noon to 2 p.m. A VIP reception and silent auction are scheduled to begin at the Penn Stater at 5:30 p.m. followed by the dinner and program at 6 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased by contacting the Varsity S Club at varsityS@athletics.psu.edu or (814) 867-2202. Sponsorship packages are available by contacting Loren Crispell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (814) 865-8140.
Mitch Williams, nicknamed "Wild Thing", is a former relief pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for six teams from 1986 to 1997. He is currently a studio analyst for the MLB Network.
Williams, a left-hander with a high-90s fastball and major control issues, was largely effective, earning 192 saves in his 11 seasons including a career high of 43 in 1993. Williams was drafted out of high school in West Linn, Oregon, in 1982 by the San Diego Padres. The Texas Rangers acquired him in 1985, and he made his major league debut for the Rangers in 1986. The Rangers traded him to the Chicago Cubs after the 1988 season.
It was with the Rangers that Williams earned the nickname "Wild Thing". A power reliever, he put his full weight behind every pitch, so that he dropped hard to the right, sometimes falling off the mound. Williams has explained that his erratic pitching was a combination of poor control and his simply not knowing where the ball was supposed to go. He was very effective at pick-offs from first and second base due to his deceptive head-down preparatory stance.
One of Mitch Williams's best seasons came in 1989 as a member of the Chicago Cubs. Williams had a win-loss record of 4-4 with a 2.76 ERA, 67 strikeouts (in 76 appearances during the regular season) and 36 saves. That year, Williams made the All-Star team for the only time in his career. He also hit the only home run of his career that season. He was a key figure in the Cubs winning the National League East title in 1989.
The Cubs dealt Williams to the Philadelphia Phillies at the start of the 1991 campaign. That year, he won 12 games, including eight in August, and saved 30 for the Phillies. However, he suffered eight losses in 1992 and seven more in 1993. On July 2, 1993, in the second game of a 12-hour double-header delayed repeatedly by rain, Williams came up to bat in the tenth inning and ended the game with an RBI single, the only walk-off hit of his career. Ironically, Williams recorded it off Trevor Hoffman, one of the only two closers to have 600 or more saves.
The Phillies traded him to the Houston Astros prior to the start of the 1994 season. He closed out his career with the California Angels in 1995 and the Kansas City Royals in 1997.
In March 2007, Williams joined the Philadelphia radio station 610 WI AM as a part-time co-host of the morning team show. In April 2007, Williams joined Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia as a post-game analyst for broadcasts of Philadelphia Phillies baseball games. On January 3, 2009, Williams joined MLB Network as a studio analyst where he is a regular on the network's MLB Tonight program. Williams serves as a color commentator for Fox Sports occasionally commentating national games. Williams has also entered the food industry with his own salsa known as "Wild Thing Southpaw Salsa."