World Baseball Challenge 2009
USA representative confirmed for WORLD BASEBALL CHALLENGE July, 2009 It is with tremendous excitement that it is announced today the famed RENO ASTROS BASEBALL CLUB will be the United States representative for the 2009 WORLD BASEBALL CHALLENGE, set for July 21-26,2009 in Prince George, B.C., Canada.
The Reno Astros, managed by Matt Konopisos (k-nop-SIS), will wear USA uniforms, and, as they have done so many times in the past will represent their country proudly at Prince George Citizen Field, the site of the WORLD BASEBALL CHALLENGE. The Astros have won 10 world-level championships in their history, and their all-time roster includes an impressive list of former and current Major League Baseball players. Current Boston Red Sox ace Josh Beckett, the MVP of the 2003 World Series for the Florida Marlins, is among a list of 20 former big-league players and more than 80 professional athletes to have taken the field in the Astros uniform. Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay and Arizona Diamondbacks lefty Doug Davis have played for Konopisos.
The Astros are always among the contending teams at the famed Grand Forks International baseball tournament, winning it twice, and Beckett once pitched the Astros into the championship final with a performance the Grand Forks fans won’t soon forget. His catcher in that memorable 1999 semifinal win? Current Atlanta Braves receiver Corky Miller.
"We are excited to accept the invitation to represent the United States in Prince George this is a unique opportunity to face some of the best teams in the world and there is no way our program could turn that down", said Konopisos. "We played in the 2002 World Baseball Challenge, in the same pool as the Prince George Panago Axemen, and the level of baseball is always outstanding when we come to Canada. The people of Prince George are in for a real treat, and with the international lineup of teams being confirmed for 2009, it will be a tremendous challenge for our program. We like the tournament format, with every team facing each other, and a fair but demanding final playoff day."
The Astros beat the Axemen 2-0 in that 2002 meeting. Former AAA player Tommy Mitchell, a mainstay with the Astros and the brother of former National League MVP Kevin Mitchell, hit a towering home run over the left-field fence for the Astros in that game. "The name Reno Astros, and the name Matt Konopisos have come to be synonymous with ‘class’ in amateur and semi-pro baseball circles," said WBC marketing director Chad Craig. "This is a team that has proven it can beat national teams from around the world in high-pressure situations, and just the fact that they get invited to the best tournaments tells you what kind of leadership they have. We can’t wait to see them on the field in 2009."
The Reno Astros, based out of Moana Stadium in Reno, Nevada, have been the focus of a cable television reality series called The Dugout Show, with episodes available through their web site or on iTunes (http://www.seerenotv.com/thedugout.xml).
Grand Forks International 1999, 2003
MABL World Series Pro Open Division 1993, 1994, 1995, 1197, 1999
Roy Hobbs World Series, Open Division 2000
NABA World Series Pro Open Division 2002, 2006
The confirmation of the Astros brings the tournament lineup to four teams Reno Astros (United States), Team Canada (Baseball Canada), Prince George Panago Axemen (host), and Taiwan. The Taiwanese baseball federation has indicated its interest in participating and will give a firm answer by early 2008, needing that time to go through regular scheduling meetings at the national level.
Invitations have gone out to, among other nations, Cuba, Japan, South Korea, China, Australia and the Dominican Republic. The plan is for a five-team event, with a schedule allowance to move to a six-team format.
In other WBC news, the tournament committee plans to unveil the tournament logo shortly, news that will coincide with the naming of the tournament’s title sponsorship. Ticket information will be released in January, as will the tournament marketing package.
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