'07 Whitecaps Winter Banquet Recap

The Tiger FanFest has started up, and on Wednesday night, it was in Grand Rapids for the Whitecaps winter banquet.

The 2007 Whitecaps winter banquet was a huge success with a sell out crowd of over 900 attending. Three keynote speakers included Whitecaps new manager Tom Brookens, Tiger's broadcaster Dan Dickerson, and Tigers manager Jim Leyland. All three received a very warm welcome by the West Michigan crowd, as well as Detroit Tiger guests Raphael Bellard, Gene Lamont, Brandon Inge, Craig Monroe, Placido Polanco, Chris Shelton, Marcus Thames, Justin Verlander, and Vance Wilson.

Tom Brookens commented on how excited he was to become part of the West Michigan family. He reminisced about playing in the minor leagues under Jim Leyland. He recalled having a rough night, and being called into Mr Leyland's office. "I going to tell you this straight out," Jim told him soberly, "we have been forced to give up your contract." Tom reminded him that he had been having a pretty good season. Jim agreed. Tom hung his head, "I know I made a couple errors tonight." Jim immediately responded "three to be exact." Finally putting Tom out of his misery, Jim told him that they had to give up Tom's contract because the Tigers had purchased it.

Brookens promised the crowd at the banquet. "When I played for Detroit, I went out and played hard everyday. When you come out to see a ballpark to see a game, I will promise you this-- If they don't play hard, they will not play."

Jim Leyland had a little fun with the crowd while speaking. While talking about the season, he suddenly pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and asked the crowd to excuse him. After speaking briefly into the phone, he closed it, and said "Sorry about that. That was baseball commissioner, Bud Selig. He is able to watch this program by satellite and called to say that he believes this mic has a foreign substance on it." When the laughter died down he continued his talk, but was soon interrupted by another cell phone call. After again speaking into the phone, he looked out at the crowd with a serious expression and and said, "That was Kenny Rogers. He said for me to tell Mr Selig that what is on the mic is not a foreign substance--it's pine tar. everyone knows that."

Mr. Leyland said that the unsung hero this 2006 season was the Detroit Tiger fans who not only supported the Tigers through the ALCS Championship season, but supported the Tigers through 13 losing seasons--including 2003. He took full responsibility for not winning the ALDS and repeated a promise to Tiger fans three times during his speech. "We will not have a post championship hangover."

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