Annual Hot Stove dinner raises money for CSUB baseball

Attendee%27s+of+the+CSUB+baseball+Hot+Stove+Dinner+look+over+the+silent+action+items+on+Friday+Jan+17+at+the+Kern+County+Fairgrounds.+

Mari Woodmansee

Attendee's of the CSUB baseball Hot Stove Dinner look over the silent action items on Friday Jan 17 at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

Destinee Sims, Opinions Editor

The CSU Bakersfield baseball team started the 2020 season at the annual Hot Stove Dinner on Jan. 17, 2020 at the Kern County Fair Grounds with a goal of raising enough money to fund renovations for the new season. The community flocked to the event, with a meal catered by Luigi’s and Jake’s Tex-Mex Café being included with the purchase of their event ticket. Bakersfield mayor Karen Goh, CSUB president Lynnette Zelezny, and guest star Max Muncy, current infielder for the Dodgers, joined a wide variety of public supporters to help fund Runner baseball through the 2020 season. 

  Having sold more than 700 tickets to this year’s Hot Stove Dinner, the team raised enough money to continue upgrading their equipment and facility. Attendees participated in a silent auction, with prizes including balls signed by MLB players, travel packages, and Dodgers tickets. The live auction raised $21,800. The most money was raised by a package of four bobble heads signed by Muncy and a trip to watch the San Francisco Giants play, both drawing a winning bid of $4,000 each. 

  Beyond the financial gains, the CSUB athletes found themselves gaining what they described as “valuable knowledge” from Muncy, community leaders, and the public throughout the night. Muncy emphasized how important it is for the players to sit back and enjoy the game, as well as how to balance the fun with hard work.  

  “You’re not as far off as you think you are,” Muncy said. 

  During a Q&A session, Muncy gave the athletes an opportunity to learn from his experiences. The players roared with laughter after hearing that “everyone has weird noises,” as Muncy attempted to get players to ditch the self-conscious versions of themselves and just enjoy their time playing baseball.                                                                                                                                                                      

  “Try to not take it too seriously. Try to have fun. Be like a little kid out there,” Muncy stated. This advice was met from cheers from the players. 

  After hearing from Muncy, the players talked amongst each other about the encouragement and inspiration they had gained from him. Senior Tyler Jorgensen expressed how excited he is for the 2020 season to really get going. 

  “You feel like you’re having to prove yourself,” Jorgensen said. Jorgensen notes how easily one player taking the game too seriously can negatively impact the experience of college athletes. 

   Coach Jeremy Beard, CSUB’s head baseball coach, says that that dinner will allow him to “improve athlete’s experience and development, and complete upgrades on their facility and tools”. When discussing the great public turnout for the dinner, Beard acknowledges how important it is for the players to have the community’s encouragement.  

  “Our guys need to feel like they’re supported,” said Beard. He stated that this can come from the community attending games, offering financial donations, and more. Many chose to attend the event to support the school without having any ties to the school, while others came as alumni. 

 The attendance of community members such as the King family left players admittedly feeling like stars when the King’s children came looking for autographs. Kayden, 9, and Kennedy, 5, brought their own baseball to have every member of the CSUB baseball team sign. 

  “This guy gave me a high-five because neither of us can sign our name!” Kayden said when asked if they enjoyed meeting the athletes. Kayden explained how he liked knowing he had something in common with one the athletes.  

  “I came to support our young people and together give our student athletes the support they need and deserve,” mayor Karen Goh stated. Serving as an example for the residents of Bakersfield and nearby towns, Goh says the local community should take the time needed to support the growth of local programs through events such as the evening’s Hot Stove Dinner.