By Jeff Murphy, April 1, 2022
WARRENSBURG, MO – The University of Central Missouri is honored to welcome Major League Baseball legend Reggie Jackson as the keynote speaker at its sixth annual First Pitch Banquet, taking place from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 9. The event brings together hundreds of Mules Baseball alumni, fans, donors and friends for a fundraising dinner and program in the university’s Multipurpose Building.
Reginald Martinez Jackson’s MLB career spanned two decades playing for the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and California Angels. Nicknamed “Mr. October” for his clutch hitting in the postseason with the Athletics and the Yankees, his number has been retired by both teams. Jackson helped Oakland win three consecutive World Series titles and assisted New York in winning the World Series twice. In the clinching game of the 1977 championship at Yankee Stadium, he hit three consecutive home runs, earning that year’s Babe Ruth Award.
Jackson ended his career with a total of 563 home runs and 14 seasons as an American League All-Star. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.
One of Mules Baseball’s own legendary players, 1976 UCM alumnus Jim Crane, will introduce Jackson at the First Pitch Banquet. Crane is owner of the Houston Astros MLB team and a longtime supporter of the university. A major expansion of UCM’s James R. Crane Stadium at Robert N. Tompkins Field was completed in 2021 with contributions from Crane and other generous alumni.
The April 9 event will celebrate the 2022 inductees into the Mules Diamond Club, of which Crane is a member. These three men represent Mules Baseball excellence from three decades: Gary Stanton (1972–75), Chris Schnurbusch (1984–87) and Will Bradley (2004–2005). The 2021 Mules Baseball team, whose exceptional season ended in the NCAA Division II National Championship game, will also be recognized for their success, which included a record of 46–8 (30–3 MIAA), the MIAA Regular Season Championship, MIAA Tournament Championship and Central Region Championship.
Former First Pitch keynote speakers include Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues
Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri; Les Norman, former Kansas City Royals player
and host of “Breakin’ the Norm,” a syndicated sports radio show; Houston Astros team
member Alex Bregman; and former MLB catcher Mike Macfarlane, who played for the Kansas
City Royals, Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics.
First Pitch is cohosted by UCM Athletics and the UCM Alumni Foundation. Learn more about Mules Baseball at ucmathletics.com/baseball and more about the Alumni Foundation at ucmfoundation.org.