2016 Lead Off Dinner – Featured Guests
Past ABF Lead Off Dinner History
Tommy Lasorda, baseball ambassador, ex manager Los Angeles Dodgers for 22 years in which his teams won four National League pennants and two World Series titles was the featured speaker at the inaugural ABF Lead Off Dinner. Tommy was named National League Manager of the Year in 1983 and 1988. Tommy also lead the USA National Team to a gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympiad in Sydney, Australia. Known for his generosity toward others, Tommy donated his time to the ABF in its inaugural event on February 9th, 2002. Tommy’s words to live by: “God delays but does not deny”. Holder of twelve Major League records including most games, most at bats, total bases and runs batted in, Hank Aaron spoke at the second ABF Lead Off Dinner on February 13, 2003. A Mobile, Alabama native whose life is part of the ABF BASIC curriculum, Hank overcame obstacles during his career to become one of the greatest players ever to wear an MLB uniform. Hank’s message directed to Central Alabama youth was to focus on the task at hand, both on the athletic field and in the classroom. This is similar to the ABF’s message in BASIC. Click Here to read or print full story
2013 Featured Guest: Craig Kimbrel
Atlanta Braves pitching star Craig Kimbrel, was the featured speaker at the January 25th, 2013 ABF Lead Off Dinner held at The Club in Birmingham, AL.
Craig Micheal Kimbrel (born May 28, 1988, in Huntsville, Alabama) is a Major League Baseball pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. Breaking the record for saves by a rookie in the 2011 season, Kimbrel was awarded the Rookie of the Year Award for the National League.
Kimbrel was drafted by the Braves in the 33rd round of the 2007 draft, but elected to remain at Wallace State Community College in order to improve his draft position. He was then taken by the Braves in the third round of the 2008 draft, and was the 96th player chosen. Kimbrel uses a devastating four-seam fastball/power curveball combination to get outs. He throws his fastball exceptionally hard, averaging nearly 97 mph in 2011 and occasionally touching triple digits. His curve, thrown with a “spike” grip, stays in the mid-to-upper 80s. Both of his pitches have extraordinary whiff rates: the four-seamer at 33% and the curve at 52%. This overwhelming combination contributes to a strikeouts per nine innings rate of 15.6 over Kimbrel’s career so far (as of 25 August 2012). He is also tied for fourth among all pitchers from 2002–2012 in the highest percentage of pitches that resulted in swinging strikes. Kimbrel ended the season tied for the National League lead with 46 saves — shattering the previous rookie record of 40, set by (former Braves prospect) Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers in 2010 — and led the Major Leagues with 127 strikeouts in 77 innings of relief.