YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — There certainly aren’t many in baseball circles with the credentials of 8-time MLB All-Star and Hall of Famer Andre Dawson.
“He’s a Hall of Famer, right, so any time you get to meet a Hall of Famer and today we’re going to listen to him talk, it’s always amazing to hear what they’ve been through, the stories they have and all that they’ve conquered,” YSU baseball senior Steven D’Eusino said.
Although his first time in Youngstown, Dawson, the 21-year vet who hit more than 400 home runs, can spot a room full of baseball fans from a mile away.
“You can see a lot of these individuals here, they’re baseball diehards, I can tell by the age of some of them that are out in the crowd itself,” Dawson said. “And they know the game being smack dab in the middle of Cleveland and Pittsburgh, you got your choice.”
And all these fans are at the YSU baseball first pitch breakfast, with all proceeds benefiting the Penguin baseball program.
“Two weeks from today, we will have already had two games, and so this is a good event to kind of kick start us, get us going,” YSU head coach Dan Bertolini said. “It’s become an awesome event, it’s our biggest fundraising event and we’re always excited to get kind of kick off the season.”
While that’s the main goal, it gives players like D’Eusino the opportunity to meet the fans that cheer them on while bonding with teammates and their families.
“Just to be able to get be here with your players, you get to meet their parents, their families and it’s just a great experience for everyone,” D’Eusino said. “It’s a great time to reach out, you know, make connections with people,”
The annual breakfast even brought a turnout that even impressed the other guest of honor Brian O’Nora, an Austintown Fitch graduate and 27-year MLB umpire, who’s used pretty to big crowds.
“I didn’t know this was this big of an event, but it’s it’s good that people come out and support the team and the college,” O’Nora said.
Now with just a couple weeks until they begin a 50-plus game schedule, the first pitch breakfast signifies one thing for YSU baseball.
“This is always the moment where, you know, the season is here,” Bertolini said.