Diamond Dinner Ushers In New Baseball Season
The Oklahoma baseball Diamond Dinner officially rung in the new season on Friday night as current and former Sooner players gathered for an evening of special festivities. Held in a sold out Oklahoma Union Ballroom with over 400 Sooner baseball fans and supporters, those in attendance enjoyed an evening of dining and mingling with the current team and numerous former players who returned to help the team kick off their new season. Headlining the event were current Major League Baseball stars and former Sooner teammates, Russ Ortiz of the Atlanta Braves and Mark Redman of the Oakland Athletics.
"The evening was definitely a hit," commented head coach Larry Cochell. "I think all who came enjoyed getting to meet our current players as well as meet some of the great players that have played in the program in the past."
The evening began with a VIP reception held for the sponsors of the event and the former OU lettermen and their families, while others were able to participate in an autograph session with the 2004 squad. Following the reception, the contingency joined the rest of the Sooner faithful in the banquet hall for a special dinner and program.
Cochell began the program with an introduction of staff, former players and the 2004 Sooner team. He also gave a brief preview of the upcoming season before turning the program over to former Sooner letterman and current Colorado Rockies television analyst, George Frazier.
Frazier invited Ortiz and Redman to join him on the stage for a candid question and answer session with the two professional standouts. Frazier eventually took the cordless microphone into the crowd and invited questions from fans. The pair of major leaguers answered a variety of questions on topics ranging from Barry Bonds to how they spend their off-season.
Joining Ortiz and Redman at the dinner were five other members of the 1994 squad. Javier Flores, Dusty Hansen, Damon Minor, Shawn Snyder and Aric Thomas, all returned for the function on the 10-year anniversary of the team’s second national championship.
Additionally, four members who were key components of OU’s 1997 Big 12 Tournament Championship team were in attendance. Casey Bookout, Geoff Geary, Corey Hart and Brandon Kent represented the squad that captured the Big 12 Conference’s inaugural tournament title with a 19-17 win over Texas Tech.
Other former Sooners in attendance included Chad Cochell (1997-2000), Craig Cochell (1992), Richard Cudjo (1981-82), Eddie Fisher (1956-58), Scott Marr (1991-92), Jade Noles (1996-99), Bob Stephenson (1948-50), De Wayne Vaughn (1978-81), Reggie Willits (2002-03) and Bobby Witt (1984-85).
The current Sooner squad, who officially begins team practices on Wednesday, hit the field on February 13 against Gonzaga in the Coca-Cola Spring Tournament in Surprise, Ariz.