GNHCC Sports Council To Host Annual ‘Hot Stove’ Event on Jan. 23; Connecticut Natives Mike Olt, Jim Penders and George Grande To Take Part
Branford native Mike Olt, a rookie infielder for the Texas Rangers, will serve as the featured guest at the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce (GNHCC) Sports Council’s annual ‘Hot Stove’ event on Wednesday, January 23 at 8 a.m. at Bill Miller’s Castle, 834 East Main Street in Branford. Jim Penders, the head baseball coach at the University of Connecticut, will also be a panelist, while legendary broadcaster and Hamden native George Grande will serve as the moderator.
The breakfast event will run from 8-9:30 a.m. There is a suggested donation of $10 at the door to attend. All proceeds will be earmarked to “Go to Bat for Coach Dummar”, benefitting Branford High School varsity baseball coach George Dummar, who is currently battling a life-threatening illness.
Bill Miller’s Castle will serve as the host sponsor for the event, with Fresh Concepts serving as the presenting sponsor.
Olt earned a call-up to the majors in early August, 2012 and had a hit and a run scored in his major league debut against the Los Angeles Angels on August 2. Nine days later, his game-winning pinch-hit RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the Rangers to a 2-1 win over the Detroit Tigers.
In all, he appeared in 16 games for the Rangers, who followed consecutive trips to the World Series with a berth in the Wild Card round this past fall. At the time of his call-up, Olt was batting .298 with 28 home runs and 82 RBI in just 95 games for the Rangers’ AA affiliate in Frisco, Texas. As a result of his efforts, he was selected by the organization as its 2012 Minor League Player of the Year.
In his first full professional season (2011), Olt played for the Rangers high-A affiliate in Myrtle Beach (S.C.) and was named the third-best prospect in the Carolina League by Baseball America. He also took part in the prestigious Arizona Fall League and was named to its All-Prospect Team after leading the league in home runs, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage. In his first professional season (2010), Olt ranked among the Northwest League leaders in home runs (second), RBI (fifth), doubles (sixth), home runs (seventh) with the Rangers’ affiliate in Spokane (Wash.).
Drafted by the Rangers in the first round (49th pick) of the 2010 draft, Olt played three seasons at the University of Connecticut. He departed as the Huskies’ all-time home run leader (44). Olt was a three-time All-State selection at Branford High before suiting up with the Huskies.
Penders enters his 10th season at the helm of the UConn program this spring. He is a three-time Big East Coach of the Year who has led the Huskies to at least 30 victories in seven of his first nine campaigns. Two seasons ago, Penders guided UConn to its first-ever Big East regular season championship title and appearance in the NCAA Super Regionals. He is also a two-time New England Coach of the Year and a two-time Regional Coach of the Year who has led UConn to New England Team of the Year honors on three occasions.
One of the most recognized broadcasters in sports, Grande played baseball at the University of Southern California, where he was a part of the Trojans’ 1968 National Championship team. He then embarked on a career in broadcasting and helped launch ESPN in the late 1970’s. Grande served as a television play-by-play announcer for the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals before a 17-year run with the Cincinnati Reds. The master of the annual National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony since 1980, Grande is also a member of the Board of Directors of USA Baseball and sits on the Quinnipiac University Athletics Advisory Board. He was named an Elm City Legend by the March of Dimes in 2011.
Registration is requested for the event. For more information, or to sign up, please log on to www.gnhcc.com or call 203-782-4342.