The Palm Beach County Sports Commission partnered with the Florida Sports Foundation to host the 59th Governor’s Baseball Dinner in The Palm Beaches. The 2019 edition of the Governor’s Baseball Dinner took place at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach on Sunday, February 17. This event, which is an extraordinary celebration of baseball and a new season of Major League Baseball (MLB) Spring Training in Florida, made its second stop in Palm Beach County over the last five years.
Over 430 attendees joined, Governor Ron DeSantis, including Palm Beach County Commissioners and elected officials, state legislatures, and representatives from teams that compete in the Grapefruit League, which is the collection of MLB teams that conduct their spring training in Florida. Major League Baseball Commissioner, Ron Manfred, also participated and addressed the audience during the Governor’s Baseball Dinner.
The venue was built from the ground up to transform the Kravis Center into a baseball fan’s paradise. With grass berm walls and Cracker Jack boxes, every attendee could feel the history of baseball in the room.
Spring training baseball has a rich history in Palm Beach County, which began on the Kravis Center’s property. In 1928, the St Louis Browns became the first Major League Baseball team to call West Palm Beach home and were followed by the Philadelphia Athletics. These teams played at Wright Field, which was later named Connie Mack Field. After a great many years in West Palm Beach, Connie Mack Field became the Kravis Center for Performing Arts. For over 60 years, some of the greatest names in baseball played spring training baseball where the Kravis Center is located today, such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.
Throughout the event, Palm Beach County’s position as a premier baseball destination was highlighted. The voice of the Miami Marlins, Dave Van Horne, served as the emcee for the festivities of the evening and led the program through a handful of powerful speakers, video presentations and awards to teams from the Florida Grapefruit League who advanced into the post season. The Governor’s Baseball dinner opened with warm welcomes from President & CEO of Enterprise Florida, Jamal Sowell and Palm Beach County Mayor, the Honorable Mack Bernard. Major League Baseball Commissioner, Rob Manfred, delivered compelling remarks about the state of Spring Training Baseball in Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis expressed enthusiasm for Palm Beach County’s role in supporting Major League Baseball Spring Training in Florida and discussed his passion for the game.
The evening featured former MLB players and managers that entertained the audience. Palm Beach County’s spring training teams were featured in a panel. A.J Hinch, manager of the Houston Astros, Dave Martinez, manager of the Washington Nationals, Don Mattingly, manager of the Miami Marlins and Mike Shildt, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, discussed their baseball experiences during spring training. Baseball legends, Bucky Dent and Joe Girardi, followed the panel discussion with dynamic, captivating, and entertaining speeches to the room full of baseball enthusiasts.
The dinner was a symbolic celebration of the mark that baseball has made in Palm Beach County. The event also created a great introduction to the 2019 Spring Training Season in the Grapefruit League, which is taking place right now across Florida, including 30 games in Palm Beach County!
The 43rd Annual Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame Celebration, presented by Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey, & Fronrath, will take place at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach on March 25th. The Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame represents the best of sports in The Palm Beaches and recognizes athletes, coaches, sports media, and sports administrators. Honored at this year’s event will be the 2019 Hall of Fame inductees; Annette De Luca, William Harvey, Mike Kissner, John McCormick, Don Smith, Bud Marcellus Watson, and Dr. Gary Wiren. Also honored this year will be the local award nominees for Coach of the Year, High School Athlete of the Year male and female, High School Coach of the Year, Amateur Athlete of the Year and awardee Dorian Hawkins for Outstanding Sports Contributor.
The Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame will also recognize Neil London, creator of Supercar Weeks in Palm Beach County, Terrence Freelove, recipient of the the Inspirational Athlete for Palm Beach County and Sean Pittman, the first Orange Bowl Committee President from Palm Beach County.
“The 2019 Hall of Fame inductees represent an elite class of athletes and individuals who have a passion for and commitment to sports. Each person represents the diversity of talent prevalent in Palm Beach County,” said Eric Call, Palm Beach County Sports Commission President. “We are proud to have them as part of our community and honored to have the inductees join the other accomplished athletes and professionals that are members of the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame.”
2019 Annual Award Finalists include:
Amateur Athlete of the Year
Kylee Hanson, Florida State University, Softball Alexa Pano, Lake Worth, Junior Golf
Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic University, Football
Coach of the Year
Alton Butler, Palm Beach Gardens Junior Varsity Pop Warner
Samuel Curry, Royal Palm Beach Pee Wee Pop Warner
Andrew Danna, Lynn University, Men’s Golf
High School Coach of the Year
Alex Clarke, Benjamin, Girls volleyball
Matt Colin, Wellington, Boys Basketball
Andrew Mook, Jupiter, Baseball
High School Player of the Year (Female)
Danni Farley, Wellington, Softball
Anabel Fernandez, Seminole Ridge, Weightlifting
Caitlyn Wurzburger, American-Heritage, Lacrosse
High School Athlete of the Year (Male)
Alex Bordeau, West Boca Raton, Wrestling
Troy Jaffy, Olympic Heights, Wrestling
Justin Wake, The King’s Academy, Football
About the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame
The Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame is owned and produced by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission. The Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1977 with the purpose to formally recognize athletes, coaches, media, and contributors that achieved achieve tremendous success in sports or made a significant contribution to sports in The Palm Beaches. To purchase tickets to this remarkable event, click the link. https://www.palmbeachsports.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=pages.hof
The 23rd annual Palm Beach Challenge is set begin Saturday, March 2, at the Santaluces Sports Complex in Lantana. The 96 game schedule includes 19 colleges mostly NCAA Division II including the third best team in the country in 2018, Southern New Hampshire University.
The event will consist of three tournaments spread out over 18 days. In addition to the colleges, 7 countries will be represented at the 16U, 18U, and a Free Agent Open Division levels. The VC 24 Club with players mainly from the Dominican Republic will have plenty of scouts on hand when Victor Martinez and his 98 MPH fastball take the mound, or 16 year old Bahamian short stop Xavier Saint takes the field. The President of the Colombian Professional Baseball league Edinson Renteria brings a loaded team from his country, and there is a team made up of Professional Independent league players the Black Sox. This group of 30+ players will train for three weeks at Santaluces and then head off to Intendent league Spring Training in April. The Down Under Travelers are coming from Australia to show off their talents.
We are thrilled to have so much talent represented in this year’s event with 19 colleges and 7 countries participating” said Mario Signorello, Executive Director of the Palm Beach Challenge. “The Palm Beaches is not only the MLB Spring Training capital of Florida with 4 professional teams but also the College and International Spring Training Capital” Signorello continued.
Also as part of this event, there is expected to be an influx of umpires from all over the country. Not only college umpires, but over 20 aspiring “men in blue” will attend an intense 4-day clinic. These umpires train intensely the first two days and then are added to the umpire crew for selected games and evaluated by Chief Umpire Nick Zibelli.
The Palm Beach Challenge has an impressive list of alumni players, with over 70 who have gone onto play Major League Baseball. Notable alumni include Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis who played with Yale University in 2001.
The Palm Beach Challenge, originated in Homestead in 1997, opened a second site in Palm Beach County at the Santaluces Sports Complex in 2004 and quickly moved the entire event to the county in 2005.
The 96-game schedule begins March 2nd and runs till March 19th. You can view up to 12 games a day for just $6. For more information about this event, visit CBOTournaments.com
The Honda Classic achieved the second-highest attendance mark in tournament history. The event at PGA National attracted 204,487 confirmed spectators over seven days, spanning from February 25 to March 3. This makes the fourth consecutive year the tournamnent exeeded the 200,00.
“The energy-level on the course was really high all week right down to the thrilling finish that we had on Sunday with Keith Mitchell overtaking Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka on the final hole to win his first PGA tournament title,” Honda Classic Executive Director Kenneth R. Kennerly said. “We were thrilled to see everyone having a fantastic time and supporting our great event. The enormous crowds are a testament to the tremendous community support we have received year to year.
“It is a continued validation of what we set out to establish when we moved to PGA National Resort & Spa in 2007 and re-imagined The Honda Classic. It’s about the experience that people have when they attend. We have worked hard to attract a diverse spectator base and were thrilled to see this strategy pay off in the way the community supported the tournament again. It was just another great week.”
Last year, the Tour named The Honda Classic the event with the “Best On-Site Staging.” The 2020 Honda Classic will be played Feb. 24-March 1.
The Palm Beach County Sports Commission partnered with the Wellington Travel Basketball Association, to host Wellington March Madness in Palm Beach County on March 2-3, 2019. The Wellington March Madness features 110 travel basketball teams from around Florida. This event highlighted boys teams from grades 3 through 11. The event features pool-play, leading to a bracket, with teams guaranteed four games.
“This event is the premier basketball event in the state of Florida, we attract the best teams from around the state of Florida, we have been sold out for the past 12 years and there is 100 + teams,” stated Chris Fratalia, President.
“One of the best qualities about this event is the team’s charisma. The level of competition is impactful. This is a great exposure event for the Palm Beach County Community.”
Wellington Wolves Youth Basketball is one of the most well-known youth sports programs in South Florida and Palm Beach County, serving the area since 2002. Since then, they have expanded to include over 200 boys and girls in their program that compete at the highest level for National Championships.