Jan. 28, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. --
| 2012 Diamond Dinner
Read what past honorees have said about their experience at the Diamond Dinner:
Mark Redman ... "It was an honor to be a part of this prestigious recognition by the University of Oklahoma."
Russ Ortiz ... "It was a privilege to play at OU, so it was an honor being recognized for playing there and the career I had in professional baseball."
Kyle Denney ... "It meant a great deal to me b/c I loved my time at Oklahoma. Being honored was more about being a part of a family. Whether I am 30 or 70-years old, I will always be a part of the Sooner family."
Damon Minor ... "It's an honor to be a part of a program that remembers the Sooner players of old that laid the foundation for the Sooner players of today and Sooner players of the future. That is tradition."
Ryan Minor ... "Being recognized by a university that I dreamed of playing for, and fulfilling that dream, will always be special to me."
Rich Hills ... "Being recognized as a past honoree means that I have made a positive contribution to the program during my time at OU, but I do understand that those contributions would not have been possible without all of my great friends and teammates."
Eddie Fisher ... "It certainly was an honor, and my family and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. It was the first time I was honored since leaving OU and I really appreciated it."
Geoff Geary ... "I was always surrounded by good people at OU and considered them my extended family. I enjoyed being back home for the banquet and seeing old friends and family."
Bob Stephenson ... "Playing baseball at OU was a dream that I didn't think was possible. When the University took the time to honor me with the award, it was truly one of the highlights of my career."
Reggie Willits ... "I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to play baseball at OU. It was a huge honor to be recognized by a baseball program that I am proud to be a part of."
Darron Cox ... "It was an honor for me to return to the University of Oklahoma and be involved with the community of athletes again. It's always nice to be involved with a family, and that is what OU will always be to me."
Greg Norton ... "It was an honor for me to come back and it was a great opportunity for my family to experience the OU tradition for the first time."
Daniel McCutchen... "It was a great honor to be selected last year. I am happy that my former teammate Ryan Rohlinger gets to represent this year."
The University of Oklahoma baseball team kicked off the 2012 season with the Ninth Annual Diamond Dinner on Saturday night with nearly 300 people on hand at the Embassy Suites in Norman.
The Sooners began team practices on Friday in preparation for the 2012 campaign, which begins on the road with a three-game series at Pepperdine on Feb. 17. Season tickets for the 2012 baseball season are available for purchase online
at SoonerSports.com or by calling the OU Athletics Ticket Office at (800) 456-GoOU. The home opener against Hartford is set for Friday, Feb. 24 at 3 p.m.
Ryan Rohlinger (2004-06) served as the banquet's honoree and is the 16th former Sooner to be recognized at the banquet, which started in 2004.
Rohlinger started over 160 games at Oklahoma and was named all-conference in all three seasons, Rohlinger was named second team all-district and second team Academic All-American in 2006.
In that same season, OU advanced to the program's first NCAA Super Regional after topping Wichita State in the NCAA Norman Regional. Rohlinger was named most valuable player of that tournament after hitting .545 with two homers and 10 RBI in the five games. He finished his senior campaign as OU's batting champion with a .387 clip to go along with 13 home runs and 67 RBI.
The West Bend, Wisc., native finished his Sooner career with a .344 batting average and ranks 10th all-time at OU with 30 career home runs and fifth in a single season with 99 hits (2006). He came back for his senior season after being drafted in the 21st round of the 2005 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Following the 2006 season, he was drafted in the sixth round by the Giants and stayed with the organization until getting traded to the Colorado Rockies last year. Rohlinger made his debut with San Francisco on Aug. 13, 2008 in Houston. The Giants lost 6-2 to the Astros that day, but Rohlinger started at third base and collected his first Major League hit and RBI in his final at-bat versus Randy Wolf. With two outs and an 0-2 count, Rohlinger ripped a double through the right side of the infield and finished the day 1-for-4 at the plate.
He played in 21 games in 2008 as the Giants went on to win the World Series later that year and he has played in 25 additional games in the big leagues since. In 103 games last season on the Class AAA level, he had 10 home runs and drove in 51 RBI. He hit .284 in his most recent stint with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox and recently signed with Cleveland Indians.
"It's such an honor te be recognized by the OU baseball program with its rich history and tradition," said Rohlinger. "I'm proud to be a Sooner for life."
Following Rohlinger's recognition, he participated in a question and answer session with the emcee of the event, Ross Hubbard, a fellow Sooner letterwinner (2009-2010) and OU radio color analst.
Some of the other former players in attendance included Chase Anderson, Casey Bookout, Elton Davis, Bryant Hernandez, Rich Hills, Ross Hubbard, Casey Mendenhall, Ryan Mottern, Zach Neal, Stephen Porlier, Russell Raley, Ryan Rohlinger, Michael Rocha, Will Savage and Aric Thomas.
"This is always a special night to have Sooners from the past and present together in one room to celebrate the Universtiy of Oklahoma baseball program," said OU Head Coach Sunny Golloway. "It was great to have Ryan (Rohlinger) back, we are proud of him and all that he has accomplished in his career."
Golloway also previewed the season in between videos which highlighted each class of the 2012 squad.
For the second straight year, the banquet featured the Mitchell Whitaker Award, which is named after the late Mitchell Whitaker, a special friend of the baseball program who passed away on September 27, 2007 with Leukemia, exemplified. The qualities include being a teammate that is mentally tough, hard-nosed and always put the team first.
Jack Mayfield won the inaugural award in 2011 and sophomore Jordan John was presented with the honor on Saturday night.
DIAMOND DINNER HONOREES
2012 - Ryan Rohlinger
2011 - Daniel McCutchen
2010 - Greg Norton
2009 - Darron Cox
2008 - Bob Stephenson and Reggie Willits
2007 - Eddie Fisher, Geoff Geary, L. Dale Mitchell
2006 - Jeff Bajenaru, Rich Hills
2005 - Kyle Denney, Damon Minor, Ryan Minor
2004 - Mark Redman, Russ Ortiz