SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo baseball program, led by Head Coach Russ McNickle announced on Tuesday, September 29th that they will be hosting a fundraising dinner, “Opening Night with the Lions,” on Saturday, January 23, 2010 and that former Major League pitcher Dave Dravecky will be the guest speaker.

Dravecky, whose all-star career spanned seven years during the 1980’s, fought a very public battle with cancer in his pitching arm during his time with the San Francisco Giants that ultimately led to the amputation of his arm and the end of his career.

Agreeing to come to Saint Leo and address the athletes, the 64-game winner will highlight a long journey from his Major League Baseball debut with the San Diego Padres to the battle of his life against the cancer that took his arm, but didn’t take his love for life or his Faith in God.

Saint Leo Baseball will use this evening as a formal way to kick-start the 2010 season, using it as an opportunity to establish another tradition for the Saint Leo University baseball program.

“We want to use this weekend for our players, their families, friends and supporters to help continue to raise the expectations for this program and everyone involved with it,” said Coach McNickle. “Two of Saint Leo University’s core values are Excellence and Integrity and when thinking of establishing this event for our program and who I thought would be the right fit at this time, it was without question that it had to be Dave Dravecky.

We are honored and humbled to have Dave come and spend the weekend with our players and those involved with the baseball program. Since my arrival, I have told our players that I want them to strive for a different level and to be the best that they can be. Watching Dave’s story as a young college coach and seeing him rise to a different level through his adversity is a powerful story and one that I think will encourage everyone in our community. He continues to use the gifts that he was blessed with. I look forward to a great weekend.”

“Opening Night with the Lions” will be held in the Saint Leo Student Community Center Boardrooms and the event is scheduled to get underway at 6:00 p.m. For tickets or more information, contact Head Baseball Coach Russ McNickle at russell.mcnickle@saintleo.edu or by phone at 352-588-8227.

Click here to view the evening's invitation.

Click here for the response card if you are interested in attending.