VERSAILLES – The ninth annual Diamond Club dinner/auction, featuring Major League Baseball pitcher and local sports celebrity Craig Stammen, will be held at the Versailles K of C Hall on Jan. 13.
Doors open at 6 p.m. with a cash bar available followed by a buffet/wedding-style meal prepared by Mary Bergman.
After dinner, current Fort Loramie resident and baseball guru Dave Ross will take the stage to do what he does best – live interviews with each of the Diamond Club’s special guests. The evening’s lineup includes Versailles High School head volleyball coach Kenzie Bruggeman, Hall of Fame sportswriter Hal McCoy and Cincinnati Reds standout Eric Davis all sharing the hot seat with Stammen.
Bruggeman, who is fresh off a Division III state championship season, will start the evening off with a question-and-answer session led by Ross. In addition, the girls from this year’s squad will be recognized for their outstanding accomplishment.
The legendary McCoy also will join Ross for a few good tales from his storied career as a sports writer, widely known for covering the Cincinnati Reds since 1973 and originally coining the title “Big Red Machine.”
Davis will be the headliner for the evening. He was a star centerfielder for the Reds for many seasons in the 1980s and 1990s. While he battled multiple injuries and even suffered through colon cancer in 1997, he made a startling comeback with the Baltimore Orioles that same year, hitting the game-winning home run in an American League Championship Series game.
Blending excellent power hitting with Gold Glove fielding and superior speed on the base paths, Davis could do it all. His character is witnessed by his winning the Roberto Clemente Award in 1998. This honor goes annually to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Ross will certainly have much to discuss with this baseball all-star.
Of course, hometown hero Stammen again will take the stage. Following his recovery from injuries, Stammen posted some incredible comeback stats in 2017 as a member of the San Diego Padres.
This event serves as a major fundraiser for the Versailles Diamond Club, which supports not just the high school baseball diamond and team but also for each of the last several years a combined annual amount of $10,000 has gone to deserving VHS seniors in the form of scholarships. Plus, an additional 10 percent of the profits are donated to the Versailles Council of Churches.
Stammen has always insisted that the Diamond Club should be about more than just baseball. The dinner/auction provides the funds that have enabled this organization to truly give back to the entire community.
In addition to ticket sales, Stammen is joined by quite a few generous area benefactors in providing some unique, high quality items to be bid upon in the silent and live auctions following the on-stage interviews.
Auctioneer Bill Roll will lead the bidding on a variety of goods such as signed memorabilia from Jared Hoying and Craig Stammen, a suite at a Dayton Dragons game, a Cleveland Browns on-field player experience, tickets to Dayton Flyers basketball games, two rounds of golf at Inverness Golf Club (a Golf Digest Top 100 course located in Toledo), a golf package for Firestone Country Club in Akron, Cleveland Cavaliers tickets, a Versailles Winery package, a weekend at Dale Hollow Lake and a reflexology/massage session for just a few examples.
Tickets are once again $50 each and can be purchased by calling any one of the following Diamond Club members: John Kindell at 937-877-0070, Bernie Knapke at 937-459-8866, Ted Lyons at 937-538-1145, Max Kindell at 937-418-6402, Matt Watren at 937-658-2205 or Tony Rose at 937-638–3132.
This casual-dress evening has been a big hit for nearly a decade. Fans are encouraged to get tickets soon before they are sold out.
In conjunction with the dinner/auction, the annual youth baseball camp will be held on Jan. 14 at the old Versailles High School building/current Board of Education office located next to the baseball field.
Stammen will be the host and featured instructor along with the former head coach for the University of Dayton Tony Vittorio. Joining them for this hands-on training will be the VHS head baseball coach Ryan Schlater with his staff and players as well as several other select area coaches.
Camp will begin with grades three-six going from 10 a.m. to noon followed by grades seven-12 from 1 to 3 p.m. For a $20 fee, each camp attendee will be given a camp T-shirt and other items of interest to any baseball player, provided they return the signed form by the deadline. Contact Coach Schlater at email@example.com for more details.
Prior to the camp, starting at 8:45 a.m., Cincinnati Bengals chaplain Father Tony Stephens will offer a mass and Stammen will follow up with a brief discussion of the important connection between faith and sports. Camp participants are welcome to attend and should dress accordingly to be ready for camp following the mass.