It was the fourth annual installment and, according to head coach Randy Mazey, by far the team's biggest yet. The Mountaineers drew approximately 150 people to its first such event, held in 2013. Attendance has increased each season, culminating with a sellout tonight, bolstered by the appearance of Rose. A 17-time All-Star, three-time World Series champion and a former National League MVP and batting champion, Rose, above, holds the record for most career hits with 4,256. He also holds marks for career singles, games played, at-bats and plate appearances, the vast majority of which came during a 19-year career with the Cincinnati Reds.
It was Rose's connection with WVU head basketball coach Bob Huggins - who spent 16 seasons with UC's Bearcats - that facilitated his appearance, one that Mazey said the team might never be able to top again.
"I don't know where we go from here," Mazey said. "It's amazing to sit with your childhood idol."
Rose spoke with West Virginia's players for 45 minutes before the banquet, mostly talking about the importance of hustle and trying to win. The goal, Rose said, is never to put personal goals ahead of those of the team, and to always strive for the betterment of the collective group. Rose also shared hitting tips, and talked to third baseman Kyle Davis about his plate approach, and both of their childhoods in the Cincinnati area. Take a listen, below, as both Mazey and Davis delve into what it means to the program to have Rose at its fundraiser, and what the expectations are for the team this season.
For us at BlueGoldNews.com it also begins our baseball coverage for the 2016 season. Following National Signing Day, on Feb. 3, we will start a series of preseason articles that will set-up opening day on Feb. 19, when West Virginia begins an 11-game road trip to start the season. The Mountaineers will play three games at Charleston Southern, followed by another three-game set, this time at UNLV. West Virginia will also face Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks in Scottsdale on Feb 29, one day after the completion of the UNLV series - a game setup by WVU alum Ken Kendrick, who is the Diamondback's Managing General Partner.
The road trip concludes with four games at Hawaii before the home opener on Fri., March 11 against Old Dominion.