Editor's note: First in a series
By RICHARD DYMOND
MANATEE -- By its very name, an all-star is someone who has risen above the norm to show extraordinary achievement.
The Bradenton Marauders, a Pittsburgh Pirates minor league baseball affiliate, decided that it would be fitting to choose eight everyday citizens who are all-stars in their Manatee County community and to honor them at the first Florida State League
All-Star Game to be hosted by the Marauders at McKechnie Field on Saturday.
"We came up with the idea in the fall of last year after we had been awarded the All-Star Game," said Rachelle Madrigal, the Marauders' manager of sales and marketing. "We decided we wanted to add a community component."
After the Bradenton Herald published word about the Marauders' "All-Stars Among Us" contest, dozens of entries were submitted in the categories of youth education, first responders and non-profits.
The Herald will run stories on each of the eight winners, beginning Sunday, leading up to the All-Star Game.
In the category of youth education, winners were Dana Pounds of Nature's Academy, Inc., Molly Maxwell of the Bradenton Police Explorers Post 1001 and Rae Ann Darling Reed, a cross country and track coach at Manatee High School and member of the Suncoast Striders Walking and Running Club.
In the category of not-for-profit volunteers, winners are Tony DeFilippo of Food Bank of Manatee, Herb Moller of Take Stock in Children and Danny Jones of Bridge a Life.
In the category of first responders, winners are Detective James Wischer Jr. of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and Steve Pontious, a retired Manatee County fire fighter.
Each winner will receive a check for $500 for themselves from the Marauders and a check for $500 for the charity of their choice, Madrigal said.
During a pre-game ceremony, which will begin at 6:40 p.m. June 14, the eight All-Stars Among Us will be lined up on the field and recognized over the public address system.
"It's very exciting," said winner Molly Maxwell. "To be there in front of your family and friends will be a thrill."
The first pitch of the All-Star Game is slated for 7:05 p.m.
The All-Stars Among Us contest is just one of a series of events connected with The Florida State League All-Star Game, which is sponsored by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The inaugural Pirates and Princesses 5K Home Run events, including a 5K race starting on Old Main Street, are scheduled for Friday, June 13. The race course is along the Bradenton Riverwalk and returns to Old Main Street.
The race will be followed by the "Main Street Plunder" after-party on Old Main Street presented by New Belgium Brewing.
Online registration for the races are available at BradentonMarauders.com/PiratesandPrincesses5K.
Gates open at 4:30 p.m. on June 14 at McKechnie Field with an autograph session held from 4:40-5:15 p.m., featuring players from both teams.
A crowd of 3,500 is expected, Madrigal said.
"It will be more like a spring training-size game crowd," Madrigal said. "All of our concessions will be open and ready to go."
A home run derby presented by PNC Bank will begin at 5:30 p.m. There will also be live music by Matthew Huff at the Yuengling Plaza Bar pre-game.
After the game, Zambelli Fireworks will present a spectacular post-game pyrotechnic display, followed by a postgame concert and after party on the outfield boardwalk at McKechnie Field.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @RichardDymond