Dec. 16, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A variety of former University of Tennessee standouts will headline the billing for the 18th Annual Tennessee Baseball Leadoff Banquet, to be held on Friday, Feb. 5, 2010, at the Knoxville Convention Center. Former Volunteers and current professional players J.P. Arencibia, Chris Burke, Chase Headley and Luke Hochevar will join the Sports Animal's John Wilkerson and more speakers to be announced in the following days for a group discussion and Q&A session.
"We are very excited about hosting several major leaguers at this year's leadoff banquet," Head Baseball Coach Todd Raleigh said. "The leadoff banquet is a great way to start the year and gives our team and fans some added momentum as we prepare for a great upcoming season."
The event gives fans a chance to show their support to the team in an enjoyable evening. Each player on the 2010 team will be introduced to the crowd by Coach Raleigh and fans will have the opportunity to meet the team and get autographs during the reception.
"This year's annual event will recognize both former and current Vol baseball players," Men's Athletic Director Mike Hamilton said. "I am looking forward to a great season."
The preseason banquet will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m. with dinner and program to follow at 6:30 p.m. Individual tickets are $40 and tables that seat ten are $350.
Currently a mainstay in the Kansas City Royals' starting rotation, Hochevar completed his three-year collegiate career as one of Tennessee's all-time most decorated players. The right-hander posted a 15-3 record with a 2.26 ERA while leading the Vols to the 2005 College World Series and winning the Roger Clemens Award as the nation's best pitcher during his junior season.
His 15 victories tied for the NCAA lead that year, as well as the top spot in UT's single-season record book. A consensus first-team All-American, Hochevar was also named the SEC Pitcher of the Year and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes and Brooks Wallace awards. When he left the mound for the final time as a Vol, Hochevar ranked ninth in career ERA (3.05), tied for 10th in games started (33), fourth in innings pitched (280.1) and second in strikeouts (287).
Burke, a recent free-agent signee with the Cincinnati Reds, has also spent time with the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves since leaving Tennessee as a three-time All-American. One of the top hitters ever to suit up for the Vols, he rewrote UT's single-season and career record books, establishing six season marks and eight career standards.
In 2001, Burke was named the SEC Player of the Year after leading the league in eight offensive categories and guiding the Big Orange to its third College World Series appearance. He finished his collegiate career with a stellar .404 batting average, along with 26 home runs, 156 RBIs and 124 stolen bases.
A catcher in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, Arencibia spent three years at Tennessee before leaving as a two-time All-American and one of the top power hitters in program history. The Miami, Fla., native hit .330 for his career, and ranks third in UT history in total bases (381), fourth in RBIs (165), tied for fifth in home runs (33), tied for sixth in doubles (48) and seventh in hits (230). For two consecutive summers in 2005 and 2006, Arencibia starred as one of the top hitters on the USA Baseball National Team. He was selected as the 2006 USA Baseball Athlete of the Year after he and former teammate Julio Borbon led Team USA to gold at the FISU World Championships in Havana, Cuba. Arencibia hit .404 with Team USA in 2005 and batted .306 in 2006. He totaled 11 home runs in his two stints with the elite U.S. squad.
Currently the top-rated prospect in the San Diego Padres organization, Headley was a standout both on the field and in the classroom for the Vols, becoming just the fifth player in school history to be named a first team academic All-American. He also claimed third team All-America acclaim after hitting .387 to win the SEC batting crown in 2005. Headley led the league with 63 walks, 82 runs scored and a .530 on-base percentage that year as well. During his two seasons at Rocky Top, the 6-2 third baseman accumulated 125 hits, including 16 home runs, and 88 RBIs, while hitting at a stellar .357 clip in 100 games.
Tennessee Athletics invites you to attend this exciting event. For more information or to reserve your seat at the 18th Annual Leadoff Banquet visit the baseball page at www.utsports.com or call the UT Athletics Marketing office at (865) 974-9001.