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December 18. 2012 9:38PM

Granite State Baseball Dinner announces record fundraiser


Rick Brenner, president of the NH Fisher Cats, presents a large check for $2.47 million during the press conference for the Fisher Cats Foundation announcing their charitable efforts for 2013. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER - Andy Crews, chairman of the 2012 Granite State Baseball Dinner, joked that he left next year's chair, businessman Bill Grenier "with a layup for the million dollar number," as he announced Tuesday that the annual dinner eclipsed $965,000 in total charitable contributions since it was re-established several years ago .

The annual hot stove baseball gathering brought in a record $168,000 this year in support of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats Foundation, the Ted Williams Foundation and the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

Crews, president of the Autofair Auto Group chain of auto dealerships, turned the helm of the dinner over to Grenier as the Fisher Cats marked reaching $2.47 million in cash and in-kind charitable contributions from the team and its foundation since the ballclub moved to Manchester a decade ago.

"When you think about a minor league baseball team, everyone thinks outs and runs and hits and players," said Rick Brenner, president of the team during a celebration at Delta Dental Stadium. "The Fisher Cats are very proud of what we do beyond the field."

Brenner also announced several new events in support of the community.

The Fisher Cats Foundation will host a golf tournament in support of the Child Advocacy Center of Hillsborough Country, and the team will work with community groups and businesses to take every elementary school child in the city to a ballgame next spring.

The Fisher Cats are leading Minor League Baseball's "Hats4Heroes" effort to raise funds to help veterans.

Hats4Heroes is modeled after the University of New Hampshire "Operation Hat Trick," in which some of the proceeds from cap sales are donated to causes that aid wounded soldiers. Forty other teams have joined the Fisher Cats' effort.

Mayor Ted Gatsas noted the team's varied, and often unique contributions to the community during its decade in Manchester.

"The Fisher Cats not only bring something great to the baseball field, when you ask them to come to the plate for anything, they're right there," said Mayor Ted Gatsas, ticking off a list of team contributions. "They are the ones that you would figure 'why are they involved in that.' "

The mayor also singled out the club's efforts to stimulate recycling and to provide backpacks to schoolchildren, as well as backing school reading programs, and Children's Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD).

Crews said the work on the baseball dinner to help the Fisher Cats Foundation, along with CHaD and the Ted Williams Foundation, reflects the organizations it helps.

"As a business owner, when I want to give back, I want to make sure that I align myself with people where the needs are actually reaching the people they're intended for," Crews said. "All three of these organizations really take a lot of pride in making that happen."


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Bill Smith may be reached at wsmith@unionleader.com.



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