Special representatives to assist in Draft
Each team to be aided by some of Majors' most notable names
Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft is an event that celebrates possibilities. Wondering which players will grow into superstars and become synonymous with the teams that choose them has become an annual rite of spring.
But Major League Baseball will once again draw on its own extensive and rich history at this year's Draft, reaching back into its past to help celebrate its future. So when the lights go up and the cameras start rolling on the afternoon of June 5 at The Milk House in Orlando, Fla., expect to see some familiar faces along with the fresh ones that will be introduced.
Each of the 30 Major League clubs will have a special representative at its table during the opening rounds of the selection process, helping to announce and welcome that club's latest would-be stars. There will be Hall of Famers, World Series heroes, Cy Young Award winners and sentimental favorites on hand at Disney World to help usher in baseball's newest era.
Headlining the list of team representatives will be Hall of Famers Al Kaline (Tigers), Billy Williams (Cubs) and Dave Winfield (Padres). Randy Jones, who won 92 career games and the 1976 Cy Young Award for San Diego, will also be on hand for the Padres, while former slugger Willie Horton will join Kaline as a Detroit rep.
The Hall of Famers provided some of the day's most special moments for the fans at last year's Draft and will surely do so again this year when they partake in an autograph session. Kaline, whose grandson, Colin, was selected in the 25th round last year, will sign for fans between 2:30-2:55 p.m. ET, followed by Billy Williams (3:55-4:15) and Winfield (4:20-4:40).
"Major League Baseball and its clubs have assembled an outstanding collection of figures from our game to join us at the 2008 First-Year Player Draft," said Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations. "Many of the representatives who will be on hand at our Draft have enjoyed lasting bonds with their clubs over the decades. Their participation is becoming a unique tradition at the Draft, allowing us to recognize our game's history as we celebrate the future."
In addition, there will be several players expected to be among the top selections who will be on hand when their names are called. That list has yet to be finalized and likely won't be known until closer to the Draft because several of them might still be playing in the NCAA Tournament.
"We just want to make the in-house experience more appealing to the fans," Major League Baseball's senior director for baseball operations Roy Krasik said. "Based on discussions we've had, we are sure we will have an enhanced experienced. We want to make it more attractive for fans on-site so that they are enjoying every moment of the experience."
The fans will also get the chance to see Ken Griffey, Sr., who will represent Cincinnati, and eight-time All-Star Tony Oliva, who will be at the Minnesota table, representing the team for whom he played his entire 15-year career. Maury Willis (Dodgers) Devon White (Nationals), Tino Martinez (Yankees) and Vinny Castilla (Rockies) have also signed on to be a part of the special day.
Steve Blass, who won two games in the 1971 World Series for Pittsburgh, will be at the Pirates' table along with former skipper Chuck Tanner, while MLB.com analyst Harold Reynolds will share space at the Seattle table. Other former managers on hand will be Jack McKeon (Marlins), Felipe Alou (Giants) and Don Zimmer (Rays).
Others scheduled to be on hand include legendary baseball executive Roland Hemond (D-backs), Ralph Garr (Braves), Scott McGregor (Orioles), Luis Tiant (Red Sox), Alex Fernandez (White Sox), Travis Fryman (Indians), Enos Cabell (Astros), John Wathan (Royals), Demetrius Figgins and Dan Radcliff (Angels), Dave Nelson and Gord Ash (Brewers), Tim Teufel and Al Jackson (Mets), Blue Moon Odom (A's), Greg Luzinski and Dickie Noles (Phillies), Dennis Martinez (Cardinals), J.T. Snow (Giants), Brian Anderson (Rays), Vernon Wells (who is on the Blue Jays' disabled list) and Jim Sundberg and Mark McLemore (Rangers).
MLB.com will carry the Draft live, once again broadcasting every selection. Coverage on the first day begins at 2 p.m. ET with a simulcast of ESPN2's national broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. The remaining rounds on Day 1 will be shown exclusively on MLB.com with live analysis from the Milk House by Draft expert Jonathan Mayo. Coverage will begin at 11:30 a.m. on Day 2 and continue through the 50th round, if necessary.
MLB.com's coverage will also feature two days of live multimedia coverage from Florida on BaseballChannel.TV.
Every selection of the Draft will be heard on MLB.com. In addition, MLB.com's live Draft Tracker will provide a searchable database of every draft-eligible player that will feature biographical data, statistics, scouting reports and, in some cases, scouting video.
As part of the festivities preceding the Draft, Major League Baseball will hold a special Negro Leagues Player Draft. Each club will draft surviving former Negro Leagues players, who will represent every player who did not get the chance to play Major League Baseball. This special Draft will begin at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast live on MLB.com.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.