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Eagles host Yost, auction
Kansas City Royals manager and former Atlanta Braves coach Ned Yost, center, talks baseball with fans and Georgia Southern athletic staff at Thursday's "Evening With the All-Stars" on campus at GSU. Former Eagles and current Minor Leaguers Victor Roache and Chris Beck spoke at the event, and Shawn Payne was also in attendance, along with Kansas City Royals pitcher and former Eagle Everett Teaford. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    First pitch of the 2013 Georgia Southern baseball season is still two weeks away, but a capacity audience in the ballroom of GSU’s Nessmith-Lane Conference Center got into the spirit Thursday night as the Eagles hosted their third annual “Evening With the All-Stars”.
    Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost joined recent GSU standouts Chris Beck (now with the Chicago White Sox organization) and Victor Roache (Milwaukee Brewers) to answer questions from GSU baseball play-by-play voice Ryan Chambers and share some humorous stories about life in professional baseball. The evening began with a silent auction and a fundraiser dinner, and culminated with the live auction of some big-ticket items.
    While the GSU baseball team has a long tradition of hosting a preseason dinner, it has grown from a mostly private function into a social event that serves as one of the main fundraisers for the team.
    “It’s good exposure for the program and it helps us to raise a little bit of money as well,” said GSU coach Rodney Hennon. “It also helps us get people thinking about baseball. I know it’s Super Bowl week and all, but we’re just two weeks out.”
    In addition to the $75 per person price tag on attending dinner and the question and answer session, GSU baseball made a few extra bucks by getting its hands on some nice memorabilia that was put up for bidding.
    Items up for auction included autographed balls and jerseys from the featured guests, as well as signed memorabilia from Chipper Jones, who headlined the first “Night With the All-Stars” in 2011. Also included in the silent auction were unique experiences such as throwing out the first pitch at a GSU game and joining Chambers on the air for an inning of calling the action on the field.
    Four premium seats at an Atlanta Braves game highlighted the live auction at the end of the night.
    The event continued the trend of featuring former Braves — Yost served as a coach for Atlanta from 1991-2002 — but also featured former Eagles for the first time.
    Both Beck and Roache were key contributors in Georgia Southern’s run to the 2011 Southern Conference championship. Roache was lost for most of last season with an injury, but both he and Beck caught the eyes of most major league teams as Roache was selected in the first round of last summer’s draft and Beck followed one round later.
    “Getting some of our former players coming back is good for our fans,” said Hennon. “I get asked a lot by people about our former players and how they’re doing. It’s nice for them to be able to come back and keep people up to speed with what is going on now.”
    The former Eagles provided some laughs when Chambers asked how one would approach the other if their paths were to cross some day.
    “Well, anyone who would throw Vic a fastball wouldn’t be too bright,” joked Beck. “I’d definitely have to stick to the off-speed stuff and just hope he didn’t get around on one.”
    While Beck respected the power that made Roache the national home run leader two seasons ago, the former GSU slugger was just as wary of having to take his cuts against an ace pitcher.
    “I would just hope that I didn’t chase anything,” said Roache. “When (Beck’s) stuff is on, nobody is going to hit him. I would just hope for a mistake pitch and try to get a hold of it.”
    Both Beck and Roache will soon head back to their organizations as spring training is just around the corner. As for the Eagles, Thursday’s dinner served as the initial spark for a countdown that ends with the first pitch against Georgia at J.I. Clements Stadium on Feb. 15.
    “We’re excited to have such a great turnout for this event once again,” said Hennon. “But now, we’re turning our attention to Georgia in a couple of weeks. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of another great season.”

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.