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Kane County Cougars

Cougars to host inaugural ‘Frozen’ night July 10

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Cougars Frozen Night

GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars will host one of the most eagerly-anticipated theme nights of the organization’s 25th anniversary season on Friday, July 10, as the inaugural Frozen Night takes place at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

As part of the 6:30 p.m. game that evening against Cedar Rapids, attendees can purchase a special Frozen tea party package that includes the following for $29: a game ticket for the Center Field Patio Deck; a full food and beverage package that includes Swedish meatballs, a sandwich-making station with chips, fruit and vegetable platter along with Frozen-themed desserts; a Frozen cup and activity book for children; and a meet and greet with Elsa, Ana, Kristoff and Ozzie T. Cougar. Those who purchase the package, along with all fans in attendance that evening, can participate in a pre-game Frozen costume parade on the field and enjoy a Frozen-themed fireworks show following the game.

A limited quantity of tea party packages are on sale through July 3, based on availability.

Tickets are available by calling (630) 232-8811 or ordering online at kccougars.com.

Cougars announce Silver Anniversary team

in Kane County Cougars by
Ryan Dempster

GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars have announced the organization’s silver anniversary team to commemorate the 25th season of Cougars baseball. Fans will be treated to a special giveaway on Thursday, July 30, as the first 1,500 fans receive a 25th anniversary team card set, courtesy of Comfort Inn and Suites of Geneva. Beginning in March, the Cougars allowed fans to cast their votes online for the silver anniversary team.

Starting Pitchers: Josh Beckett, Dallas Braden, A.J. Burnett, Ryan Dempster, Dontrelle Willis. Beckett (’00 Cougar) was a three-time Major League All-Star and bookended his career with a 2003 World Series MVP award for the Florida Marlins and a no-hitter thrown in 2014 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Braden (’04) threw a perfect game with Oakland in 2010 and interestingly enough, was on the mound for the Cougars in 2004 when then-state representative Barack Obama threw a ceremonial first pitch before a Kane County game. Burnett (’98) is the lone remaining active big leaguer who pitched for the Cougars during the ‘90’s. The right-hander holds the Cougars’ single-season record for most strikeouts with 186 and has 11 big league seasons with 10 or more wins. Dempster (’96) won a 2013 World Series championship with Boston and won 10 or more games in nine big league seasons. Willis (’02) was teammates with Beckett in 2003 with the Marlins and was named National League Rookie of the Year that season.

Relief Pitchers: Antonio Alfonseca, Andrew Bailey, Santiago Casilla, Huston Street. Alfonseca (’94) received the 2000 Rolaids Relief Pitcher Award while saving 45 games that season with Florida. Andrew Bailey (’07) was named American League Rookie of the Year in 2009 with Oakland and is a two-time Major League All-Star. Santiago Casilla (’03-’04) is a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Street (’04) is currently 27th on the all-time Major League saves list with 292.

Catcher: Charles Johnson, Gregg Zaun. Johnson (’93) was a two-time Major League All-Star, four-time Gold Glove Award winner and 1997 World Series champion with the Florida Marlins. Zaun (’91) was part of the inaugural Cougars season and enjoyed a 16-year big league career.

First Base: Ross Gload, Adrian Gonzalez. Gload (’98) enjoyed a 10-year big league playing career. Gonzalez (’01) is a four-time Major League All-Star, has won four Gold Gloves, a pair of Silver Slugger awards and is regarded as one of the most well-rounded Major Leaguers.

Second Base: Luis Castillo, Jemile Weeks. Castillo (’95) was a two-time Major League All-Star and World Series champion with the Florida Marlins. Weeks (’08) batted .303 in his rookie season with Oakland in 2011.

Edgar Renteria
Edgar Renteria
Shortstop: Alex Gonzalez, Edgar Renteria. Gonzalez (’96) was a Major League All-Star in 1999 and a member of the Florida Marlins 2003 World Series championship squad. Renteria (’93) was a five-time big league All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner and two-time World Series MVP with Florida and San Francisco.
Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera
Third Base: Jeff Baisley, Miguel Cabrera. Baisley (’06) made his big league debut with Oakland in 2008 and holds the Cougars’ franchise record for most RBIs in a season with 110. Cabrera (’01) won the Triple Crown in 2012 (the first occurrence since 1967), is a nine-time Major League All-Star and has won a pair of American League MVP awards.

Outfield: Nelson Cruz, Andre Ethier, Mark Kotsay, Scott Podsednik. Cruz (’03) is a three-time Major League All-Star and has clubbed 20 or more home runs in six straight seasons. Ethier (’03) is a two-time big league All-Star and has more than 600 career RBI. Kotsay (’96) drove in 720 runs in his big league career. Podsednik (’97) was a member of the Chicago White Sox 2005 World Series championship squad and was also a Major League All-Star that season.

Designated Hitter: Kevin Millar. Millar (’94) was part of the Boston Red Sox 2004 World Series championship team and had 7 seasons with 15 or more home runs. Fans can regularly hear his colorful analysis as part of the MLB Network.

Field Staff: Lynn Jones (Manager), Matt Winters (Hitting Coach), Brian Peterson (Pitching Coach). Jones (’94-’97) won 275 regular season games at Kane County, led the Cougars to the 1997 Midwest League Championship Series, and during his Cougars tenure, managed several future big league stars including the aforementioned Millar, Podsednik, Dempster and Alfonseca. Jones enjoyed an eight-year playing career and was part of the Kansas City Royals’ 1985 World Series championship team. Winters (’96-’01) was hitting coach of the 2001 Midwest League champion Cougars squad that included Cabrera, Gonzalez and Josh Willingham. Peterson (’93-’97) spent five seasons as Cougars pitching coach and worked with Alfonseca and Dempster, among many other future big leaguers during his time at Kane County.

The Kane County Cougars, Major League affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, are the only Major League affiliated Minor League Baseball team in the Chicagoland area and are celebrating the organization’s 25th anniversary season in 2015. In 2013, the Cougars became the first Class-A team in Minor League Baseball history to reach 10 million fans.

Father’s Day festivities part of Cougars Game June 21

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CougarsFathers Day

GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars will host a special day of promotions for their Father’s Day game on Sunday, June 21, against the Peoria Chiefs. Tickets for the 1 p.m. game are available by calling (630) 232-8811 or ordering online at kccougars.com. Table spaces are also available for a pair of Father’s Day picnic buffets that the Cougars will offer that afternoon.

Beginning at noon when gates open, all fans will be allowed onto the field to play catch. This long-standing Cougars Father’s Day tradition allows fans to play catch on the field until approximately 12:20 p.m. Fans must bring their own gloves and baseballs.

Also before the game and following catch on the field, fans can participate in a pre-game autograph session with Cougars players.

That afternoon is also a Sunday Funday, presented by Dave and Buster’s, with free kid-friendly entertainment inside the ballpark. Unlimited use wristbands for the Cougars’ new KidZone area are just $5 that day, and all children age 3-10 will receive a voucher for a free hot dog and small soda inside the ballpark gates.

Fans will also be treated to live music by famed ballpark organist Nancy Faust. Presented by Fifth Third Bank, fans will receive a model of Roush Fenway’s No. 17 race car.

Following the game, fans may return to the field and run the bases.

In addition to the above promotions, the Cougars will host a pair of special Father’s Day picnic buffets, one taking place on the Pepsi rooftop party deck and another inside the Cougars’ Super Suite. The Super Suite buffet features appetizing foods such as prime rib, grilled chicken marsala, potatoes, vegetables, salads and assorted desserts along with Pepsi products and bottled water. Pricing is $50 for adults and $30 for children age 3-10 (2 and under are free) and includes a game ticket inside the Super Suite, which has indoor and outdoor seating, along with the buffet. The rooftop picnic ($35 for adults, $20 for children age 3-10 with children 2 and under free) features grilled chicken breasts, hot dogs, hamburgers, salads and assorted desserts along with Pepsi products and bottled water.

Both buffets begin at noon. Food service takes place through the third inning, with beverage service through the sixth inning. A cash bar featuring beer and wine will be available with both buffets.

Space is extremely limited and fans can make their reservations by calling (630) 232-8811 or ordering online at kccougars.com.

Photo submitted by Shawn Tourney to sports@elburnherald.com

Kane County Cougars announce championship ring giveaway night

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Cougars

GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars recently announced a special promotional giveaway for the upcoming season, commemorating the Cougars’ 2014 Midwest League Championship.

The first 1,500 fans who attend the Thursday, June 4, game against Bowling Green will receive a Cougars replica championship ring, courtesy of Melrose Pyrotechnics. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m. with first pitch at 6:30 p.m. Festivities that evening also include a Thirsty Thursday, sponsored by Miller Lite, with $1 select beers and sodas, and a post-game fireworks show. Following the game, fans can run the bases.

In what is sure to be one of the most popular promotional events in the history of the Cougars’ franchise, the replica ring giveaway night allows the first 1,500 fans through the ballpark gates on June 4 to receive a premium giveaway item and perfect commemorative keepsake from last season’s historic team. The Cougars’ 2014 season culminated in a Midwest League Championship and included a franchise-record 91 regular season wins, along with a perfect 7-0 mark in the postseason. The Cougars’ 98 total wins were the third-most across all Minor League Baseball teams in the past decade. Kane County also set franchise records last season with a 13-game win streak, 2.85 team ERA and 54-17 regular season home record. Following the season, Minor League Baseball named the ‘14 Cougars the “Best Team” during its “MiLBY” awards.

“We’d like to thank Melrose Pyrotechnics for sponsoring this season’s replica ring giveaway night, and for their loyal support of Cougars baseball for many years,” said Cougars Vice President/General Manager Curtis Haug. “We encourage fans to arrive early on June 4 as that evening’s giveaway, similar to last season’s Cougars team, will be remembered and treasured for years to come.”

Single-game tickets, catered event group outings, season tickets and ticket packages starting at five games, including a “Pick Your Own” plan, are currently on sale and available by calling (630) 232-8811 or visiting kccougars.com. Opening Night for the 25th anniversary season of Cougars baseball is set for Thursday, April 9, at 6:30 p.m. against Cedar Rapids. Fans can view a promotional schedule at kccougars.com, which includes information on weekly specials, theme nights, fireworks dates, ballpark concerts and entertainment acts for the upcoming season.

Cougars single-game tickets on sale Feb. 21

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GENEVA—Single-game tickets for the upcoming 25th anniversary season of Kane County Cougars baseball will go on sale Saturday, Feb. 21. That day, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., fans may purchase tickets at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, 34W002 Cherry Lane, Geneva. Also beginning at 10 a.m., fans can order tickets online at kccougars.com. From 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., fans can order tickets over the phone by calling (630) 232-8811. Group outings, season tickets and ticket packages starting at five games, including five- and 10-game “Pick Your Own” ticket packages, are currently on sale.

As a special thank you to Cougars fans for their support since 1991, fans will receive $5 off each box seat purchased for any 2015 regular season home game, with the exception of Tuesday games. There is a limit of 10 discounted tickets purchased per game. This offer will begin on Feb. 21 and continue through the Feb. 28.

Cougars to host auditions for Ozzie T. Cougar Feb. 21

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GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars will host open auditions for the role of Ozzie T. Cougar on Saturday, Feb. 21. Interested applicants are requested to bring a resume and must arrive at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark promptly at 1 p.m. for check-in. Auditions are scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.

Ozzie T. Cougar has been recognized throughout the Chicagoland area as the face of the Cougars’ franchise since the organization’s inaugural season in 1991. The Cougars have welcomed more than 10 million fans in franchise history, with Ozzie serving as the team’s goodwill ambassador who interacts with fans throughout home games, community appearances and special events. Individuals who are professional and have a passion for entertaining fans are encouraged to apply. Candidates must be athletic, physically fit and able to fit comfortably into the mascot costume for multiple hours at a time. Experience as a high school, college or professional sports mascot is preferred but not required. Skills such as dance, improvisation, acting, tumbling, mime and other relevant experience are also helpful. The ideal candidate would be available for all home games at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark (70 regular season games from April to September), potential postseason games, team events and community appearances throughout Chicagoland.

For a complete job description, interested individuals are encouraged to visit the employment opportunities page on the Cougars’ website at kccougars.com. Those with questions may contact Cougars Promotions Director Justin Cohen at (630) 232-8811 or jcohen@kanecountycougars.com.

Christmas with Ozzie, Santa Dec. 13

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GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars will host a Christmas With Ozzie and Santa holiday event from 9:30 a.m. until noon on Saturday, Dec. 13, inside the upper deck level at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. Children can meet Ozzie and Santa, pose for photos with them, and participate in numerous holiday activities. Those activities include a coloring station, ornament decorating station, and a cookie decorating station. The event is free, although there is a nominal cost of $5 per child to participate in the ornament and cookie decorating activities.

Attendees are also asked to bring a gently used winter coat or outerwear item. In conjunction with the South Elgin Lions Club, the Cougars are collecting items that will be donated to area families who are in need this winter. Fans who donate an item will receive one undated reserved seat ticket voucher, valid for a 2015 regular season Cougars game. The Cougars kicked off their annual coat drive earlier this month, and fans are encouraged to stop by the Cougars’ administrative office from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Items must be donated no later than noon on Friday, Dec. 19.

Additional information on the Christmas holiday event hosted by the Cougars is available at kccougars.com or by calling (630) 232-8811.

Easter weekend event at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark

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GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars will host an Easter weekend breakfast event on Saturday, April 19, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. The event will include a breakfast buffet served inside the Super Suite with guest appearances by Ozzie T. Cougar and the Easter Bunny, along with an Easter Egg hunt on the field. The Cougars are currently accepting reservations at kccougars.com or by phone at (630) 232-8811. Prices are $19 for adults and $12 for children age 3-10. Children age 2 and under are free.

Attendees will enjoy an appetizing breakfast buffet inside the Super Suite that includes French Toast, pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and hash browns along with coffee, water and an assortment of breakfast juices. The buffet will take place from 9-10:30 a.m. while Ozzie and the Easter Bunny mingle with guests and pose for photos. Following breakfast, children can enjoy an Easter Egg hunt on the field. The hunt will be broken down into 3 age groups: 5 and under, 6-9 and 10 years old and up.

“We’re extremely excited about our Easter weekend event as fans, particularly those with young children, will have a great morning here at the ballpark on April 19,” Cougars Director of Promotions Jenni Brechtel said. “We’ve had tremendous success with our Christmas and Valentine’s Day events over the past few years and encourage fans to make their reservations today for our newest holiday event!”

Additional information is available at kccougars.com or by calling (630) 232-8811.

MLB Spring Training amps include Cougars alumni

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GENEVA—With warm thoughts of Major League Baseball spring training now underway, many former Kane County Cougars are gearing up for the 2014 season with their respective big league clubs. This year’s Cougars team has yet to be finalized as Cubs minor leaguers open camp at the organization’s new spring training complex in Mesa.

Building on 2013
Detroit Tigers infielder Miguel Cabrera (’01 Cougar) is the two-time reigning American League MVP. Cabrera underwent off-season surgery to repair core muscles damaged by a groin tear that hindered the end of his 2013 season. Cabrera is attempting to become the first player to win three consecutive AL MVP awards.

Quite a few former Cougars, including Cabrera, were involved in the MLB postseason last fall. Oakland pitchers Sean Doolittle (’07) and Dan Straily (’10) will be counted on heavily in 2014 as Oakland tries to defend the American League West division. Doolittle appeared in 70 games out of the A’s bullpen last season and Straily started 27 games.

Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Adrian Gonzalez (’01) bagged another season of 100 or more RBI for the sixth time in the past seven seasons as the Dodgers won the National League West for the first time since 2009.

Pittsburgh pitcher Vin Mazzaro (’06) contributed to Pittsburgh advancing to the postseason for the first time since 1992.

San Diego pitcher Huston Street (’04) recorded 33 saves last season, his highest total since saving 35 games in 2009. Street is 36th in big league annals with 234 career saves. Padres teammate Tyson Ross (’08) was a rotation regular for San Diego for much of the summer, posting a 3.17 ERA in 35 games.

A change is in order
Pitcher A.J. Burnett (’98) was signed by Philadelphia shortly before spring training. Burnett pitched with Pittsburgh last season, starting at least 30 games for the sixth straight season and winning 10 or more games for the ninth straight season.

Pitcher Ian Krol (’10) made his big league debut with Washington last season and was dealt to Detroit this past off-season. Krol made 32 relief appearances with the Nationals last season.

Pitcher Ronald Belisario (’02) signed with the White Sox after spending the last several years with the Dodgers.

Infielder Jemile Weeks (’08) was dealt to Baltimore after spending his entire professional career with Oakland.

Veteran infielder Alex Gonzalez (’96) has been invited to Baltimore’s spring training camp.

Outfielder Michael Choice (’10), who made his big league debut last season with Oakland, was dealt to Texas and could break camp with the big league squad.

Pitcher Ryan Webb (’05) was signed by Baltimore after making a career high 66 appearances with Miami last season.

Other storylines
Former Cougars manager Rick Renteria (’99) is the first-year manager of the Cubs. Renteria will be working with and evaluating several Cougars from last season’s team who were invited to big league spring training camp, including Albert Almora and Armando Rivero. Catcher John Baker (’03) has been invited to Cubs big league camp as well.

Pitcher and former first round pick Kyle Zimmer (’12) was invited to Kansas City Royals big league camp.

Pitcher Bo Schultz (’10) was invited to Arizona’s big league camp and like Zimmer, are both aiming to make their big league debuts.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett (’00) missed much of last season due to surgery and is hoping to bounce back this season.

Pitcher Ryan Dempster (’96) won’t pitch for Boston this season, citing medical reasons and the desire to spend more time with his family. Dempster and pitcher Andrew Bailey (’07) were part of Boston’s World Series Championship team last season.

KC Cougars reach 10 million fans

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10 Millionth Fan

Photo: On July 20, St. Charles resident Rich Davis (center) was honored with the title of 10 millionth fan to enter Fifth Third Stadium to watch a Kane County Cougars game. Photo by Kane County Cougars

Cougars become first Class A club in history to reach mark
GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars, Class-A farm team of the Chicago Cubs, welcomed their 10 millionth fan, Rich Davis of St. Charles, through the Fifth Third Bank Ballpark gates on July 20. Rich attended the historic game along with his wife Tammy and sons Michael and Matthew.

Greeted at the Fifth Third Bank Ballpark gates by Cougars General Manager Curtis Haug and Ozzie T. Cougar, Rich and his family were recognized with a team autographed bat, Cougars No. 10 jersey, 10 $100 bills, a Labor Day outing in Suite No. 10, and 10 Midwest League game baseballs. They will also receive a 10-game customizable ticket package for the 2014 season, and 10 Cubs tickets.

According to Minor League Baseball, the Cougars are the first Class-A team in Minor League Baseball history to reach 10 million fans. The Cougars are also the sixth-quickest Minor League Baseball franchise to reach the historic mark.

“What a tremendous evening for the Kane County Cougars organization,” Cougars General Manager Curtis Haug said. ”This evening’s milestone will be remembered for years to come, and we can’t begin to express our gratitude to each and every fan who has attended a Cougars game since our first season in 1991. I’d like to particularly thank our entire staff, who on a daily basis, strive to provide the best customer service and fan entertainment experience possible. Achieving this milestone would not be possible without the support of our sponsors and media as well.”

Now in their 23rd season, the Cougars have successfully placed affordable and family-friendly minor league baseball on the map in the Chicagoland area as the only Major League-affiliated team in the Chicago market. A franchise record crowd of 14,872 attended a game at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark on July 3, 2009. A total of 121 former Cougars have reached the major leagues and the list includes All-Stars, MVP’s, and a Triple Crown winner.

The fun continues through Labor Day weekend as the Cougars’ regular season closes on Monday, Sept. 2. Numerous fireworks nights, pre-game autograph sessions, theme nights and more are on tap between now and the end of the 2013 regular season.

Cougars host pair of collegiate national games

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Tickets on sale for July 15-16 games
GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars will host USA Baseball Collegiate National Team games on Monday and Tuesday, July 15 and 16, at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

Advance tickets for both games, which range from $8 for general admission lawn seating to $12 box seats, are on sale now at kccougars.com, by phone at (630) 232-8811 or in person during business hours at the Cougars box office. Fans can learn more about Team USA at usabaseball.com.

Team USA will oppose the Crystal Lake Cardinals, a Metropolitan CBL of Illinois franchise, on Monday, July 15 at 6:30 p.m. For Tuesday’s 1 p.m. game, Team USA will face Metropolitan CBL of Illinois All-Stars.

Gates will open one hour prior to the game time on both dates, with full concessions and in-stadium attractions available, as is the case during Cougars games.

Team USA’s 24-man roster includes some of the most highly-touted collegiate players in the country and features a Chicagoland native, pitcher Nick Burdi from west suburban Downers Grove. Many of the team’s players recently competed in the College World Series, including Burdi (Louisville), infielder Alex Bregman (LSU), catcher Kyle Schwarber (Indiana), outfielder Michael Conforto (Oregon State) and pitcher David Berg, who was part of UCLA’s CWS championship team earlier this month.

“Cougars fans have been accustomed to seeing future big league talent throughout our franchise history, and our partnership with Team USA is another tremendous opportunity for baseball fans to see some of the best and brightest collegiate stars,” Cougars General Manager Curtis Haug said. “The rich history of USA Baseball, along with the talented collegiate national roster on this summer’s team, will make July 15th and 16th an exciting time for fans to visit us at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.”

“USA Baseball is extremely excited to play in Kane County for the first time,” said USA Baseball CEO/Executive Director, Paul Seiler. “The opportunity to play in Fifth Third Bank Ballpark as we prepare for our friendship series with the Cuban National Team is vital to our success this summer.”

The Cougars’ current roster and field staff includes several USA Baseball alumni. Cougars outfielder Albert Almora is a six-time USA Baseball alumnus, while Cougars pitcher Dillon Maples and pitching coach Ron Villone have USA Baseball ties as well. Current and past major leaguers who have been affiliated with USA Baseball include David Price, Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Jim Abbott, Tino Martinez and Robin Ventura.

Cougars host Military Appreciation Night July 6

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Cougars Military

Photo: Players honor the service of veterans during the 2012 Cougars Military Appreciation Night. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, July 6. Photo Courtesy of Kane County Cougars

Special events honoring all military planned for 6:30 p.m. game
GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars, in conjunction with Fifth Third Bank, will host a Military Appreciation Night on Saturday, July 6. The 6:30 p.m. game will include a variety of special events to recognize all active duty, veterans and their families.

“As we take pause to celebrate Independence Day, we wanted to also pause and pay honor to all those who serve and have served our country while defending our freedoms,” said Curtis Haug, Kane County Cougars General Manager.

Throughout the evening at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, special recognition will be made for all those who have served the country. Cougars players, along with Quad Cities River Bandits players, will help unfold a giant American flag to be held during the National Anthem, and ceremonial first pitches representing each branch of the armed service will be thrown. The evening will conclude with a patriotic-themed fireworks show.

Interested active duty military can enjoy free admission by showing their military ID at the box office when ordering tickets. Veterans are encouraged to visit vettix.org to receive complimentary tickets for the July 6 game. For more information or questions, fans can contact the Cougars at (630) 232-8811.

“As a company committed to the military and veteran community, we look forward to spending an evening together to enjoy one of American’s favorite pastimes,” said Robert A. Sullivan, President & CEO, Fifth Third Bank (Chicago).

Among those scheduled to attend include many veteran employees from Fifth Third Bank joined by DeVry Military Resource Club, Honor Flight, Illinois National Guard, and the Heart of a Marine Foundation.

Fifth Third Bank Ballpark to host sports card, memorabilia show

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GENEVA—Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, home of the Kane County Cougars, will host the “Take Me Out to the Card Show” trading card and sports memorabilia event, scheduled for Saturday, April 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event, being directed by DanCamCom and Autograph Authentics Plus, will be held inside Fifth Third Bank Ballpark’s upper deck level and include local hobby shops and sports memorabilia retailers. Admission is $3 for adults, along with children age 13, with $1 from each admission being donated to Ozzie’s Outreach, the Cougars’ charitable foundation. Youth baseball and softball players wearing their team uniform will receive a special door prize.

A pair of well-known Chicago sports figures will be present that day as well. Chicago Blackhawks legend Hockey Hall-of-Famer Denis Savard is scheduled to sign autographs from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Autograph pricing is as follows: $15, or two for $25, on any item except for the Blackhawks Ambassadors “Blue Line” photo, which is $40. Authentic Autographs Plus will have pucks, mini-sticks, mini-helmets and 8X10 photos available for purchase. Also, former Chicago Cub Randy Hundley will sign autographs from 12 to 1:30 p.m. Autograph pricing is as follows: $10 or two for $15, on any item, with an additional $5 for inscriptions.

For more information on the event or to reserve dealer space, contact event organizer Dan Campana at dan@dancamcom.biz.

Fifth Third Bank Ballpark to host sports card, memorabilia show

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GENEVA—Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, home of the Kane County Cougars, will host the “Take Me Out to the Card Show” trading card and sports memorabilia event, scheduled for Saturday, April 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event, being directed by DanCamCom and Autograph Authentics Plus, will be held inside Fifth Third Bank Ballpark’s upper deck level and include local hobby shops and sports memorabilia retailers. Admission is $3 for adults, along with children age 13, with $1 from each admission being donated to Ozzie’s Outreach, the Cougars’ charitable foundation. Youth baseball and softball players wearing their team uniform will receive a special door prize.

A pair of well-known Chicago sports figures will be present that day as well. Chicago Blackhawks legend Hockey Hall-of-Famer Denis Savard is scheduled to sign autographs from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Autograph pricing is as follows: $15, or two for $25, on any item except for the Blackhawks Ambassadors “Blue Line” photo, which is $40. Authentic Autographs Plus will have pucks, mini-sticks, mini-helmets and 8X10 photos available for purchase. Also, former Chicago Cub Randy Hundley will sign autographs from 12 to 1:30 p.m. Autograph pricing is as follows: $10 or two for $15, on any item, with an additional $5 for inscriptions.

For more information on the event or to reserve dealer space, contact event organizer Dan Campana at dan@dancamcom.biz.

Cougars unveil new website, prepare for April 4 opener

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GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars organization has launched a re-designed website at kccougars.com.

In conjunction with Minor League Baseball, the Cougars’ website will give fans the best means to follow the team and all of the on-field action beginning this season. Access to Cougars news, news from across Minor League Baseball, and news concerning the Chicago Cubs, the Cougars’ major league affiliate, will be easily accessible from the website’s main page through the re-design.

As has been the case for years, fans can also stay up-to-date on ballpark promotions, contests, entertainment and events in 2013. Some of the website’s most prominent areas include links to each of the Cougars’ social media sites. Fans will continue to have the convenience of ordering and printing their tickets online from home.

“We’re extremely excited to provide our fans with this new and modernized look for our re-designed website,” Cougars General Manager Curtis Haug said. “The look and functionality of the site, along with giving our fans the easiest way to access important information, is extremely important. We feel that our new website re-design accomplishes these goals.”

Opening Day at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark is less than three weeks away. The Cougars, in their first year of affiliation with the Chicago Cubs, will host Quad Cities on Thursday, April 4 at 6:30 p.m. Fans can order tickets by calling (630) 232-8811 or visiting kccougars.com.

Spring Training camps include Cougar alumni

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GENEVA—With warm thoughts of Major League Baseball spring training now underway, many former Kane County Cougars are gearing up for the 2013 season.
Here’s a brief snapshot of Cougars alumni at various spring training sites.

Building on 2012
It’s hard to fathom what Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera (’01 Cougar) could provide for an encore in 2013.
Last season, Cabrera was a Major League All-Star, was named American League Most Valuable Player, and won the league’s Triple Crown. The Triple Crown achievement was the first such occurrence in big league history since 1967. Cabrera finished the regular season with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI.
Pittsburgh pitcher A.J. Burnett (’98 Cougar) opened last season with a 15-4 record before fading down the stretch. Still, Burnett’s 16-10 record meant that the right-hander reached the 10-win mark for his eighth straight season.
San Diego pitcher Huston Street (’04 Cougar) was a first-time Major League All-Star last season. Street recorded a 1.85 ERA (his lowest since twirling a 1.72 ERA during his rookie season in ’05) and saved 23 games for San Diego in 2012.
San Francisco pitcher Santiago Casilla (’03-’04 Cougar) saved 25 games last season and was part of the Giants’ World Series championship team, picking up his second ring in three seasons.
Minnesota outfielder Josh Willingham (’01 Cougar) is hoping to build on a career year. Willingham set career highs in home runs (35), RBI (110) and runs (85) while winning his first Silver Slugger Award in 2012.
Arizona pitcher Trevor Cahill (’07 Cougar) shed 15 pounds over the off-season and has won 10 or more games in each of his first four big league seasons. Cahill is just 24 years old.
Oakland pitcher Dan Straily (’10 Cougar) made his big league debut with Oakland last season, making seven starts.
A’s teammate Sean Doolittle (’07 Cougar) converted from infielder to pitcher and made the transition look easy last season as a big league rookie. Doolittle pitched in 44 games and posted a 3.04 ERA.

New homes
Ryan Dempster (’96 Cougar) is now with Boston after signing a two-year deal, while Joe Blanton (’03 Cougar) signed a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels. Former Cougar Mike Redmond (’93-’94) is a first-time big league manager with the Miami Marlins. Tyson Ross (’08 Cougar) was acquired by San Diego as part of an off-season trade with Oakland. Vin Mazzaro (’06 Cougar) was dealt from Kansas City to Pittsburgh. Dontrelle Willis (’02 Cougar) was signed to a minor league deal by the Cubs. Nate Robertson (’99-’00 Cougar) was signed to a minor league deal by Texas with an invitation to big league camp. Cliff Pennington (’05 Cougar) is now with Arizona.

Shaking the injury bug
Milwaukee infielder Alex Gonzalez (’96 Cougar) was the Brewers’ starting shortstop in 2012 before suffering a season-ending ACL injury in early May. Now 36 years old, Gonzalez re-signed with Milwaukee and will likely be the team’s backup shortstop or play an alternate infield position. Gonzalez has played shortstop in all 1,559 games as a major leaguer since making his debut in 1998 with the Florida Marlins. Boston reliever Andrew Bailey (’07 Cougar) is a two-time All-Star and former American League Rookie of the Year. Bailey spent much of last season on the disabled list because of a thumb injury and subsequent surgery.

Short hops
Among the numerous former Cougars with the Los Angeles Dodgers are Josh Beckett (’00 Cougar), Ronald Belisario (’02 Cougar), Adrian Gonzalez (’01 Cougar), Andre Ethier (’03 Cougar) and Justin Sellers (’06 Cougar). Justin Friend (’08 Cougar) has been invited to Phillies big league camp; the right-hander reached as high as Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season. Jamie Richmond (’08-’09 Cougar) was signed by the Royals to a minor league contract. Jake Kuebler (’11 Cougar) was signed to a minor league contract by the Mets. Sugar Ray Marimon (’11 Cougar) and Yordano Ventura (’11 Cougar) are part of Royals big league camp. Max Stassi (’10 Cougar) was recently part of a trade that sent him from Oakland to Houston. Anthony Recker (’06 Cougar) is fighting for a roster spot with the New York Mets.

Ozzie’s Home Run, Walk 5K set for May 18

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GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars organization will host the 2nd annual Ozzie’s Home Run and Walk 5K on Saturday, May 18, at 8 a.m. Registration is now open for the event through kccougars.com and racetime.info.

The start and finish for the event will take place at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark on the Cougars’ field with the finish line at home plate. Participants will be seen on the stadium’s videoboard through a live-feed camera and entrants will also receive a high-five from Ozzie T. Cougar on the final stretch of the race. Other surprises that day include door prizes and raffles featuring ceremonial first pitches, suite giveaways and more. The race is open to competitive runners as well as recreational walkers.

The first 300 registrants will receive a commemorative race drawstring bag along with a complimentary ticket voucher for a Cougars game this season. The top three male and female finishers in 14 age division categories will win a customized race medal with the Ozzie’s Home Run and Walk logo.

Registration is $25 for adults and $12 for children age 5 through 12. A portion of race proceeds will be donated to Ozzie’s Outreach, the Cougars’ charitable arm that gives back to various causes each year in the community.

KC Cougars, Cubs host ‘Hot Stove’ events in February

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Geneva—The Kane County Cougars will host a pair of events in February as anticipation for the 2013 season grows and the organization prepares for its first season of affiliation with the Chicago Cubs.

The Cougars will host a “Meet the Cubs” hot stove event on Friday, Feb. 1, and a free coaches clinic on Saturday, Feb. 2. Information on both events is currently available at kccougars.com.

The Meet the Cubs party, to take place inside the Fifth Third Bank Ballpark Super Suite from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 1, will provide fans a proper introduction to Kane County’s affiliation with the Chicago Cubs. Scheduled speakers include Cubs Senior VP of Scouting & Player Development Jason McLeod, Cubs Director of Player Development Brandon Hyde, and Cougars manager Mark Johnson. Johnson was named the 15th manager in Cougars history last month.

Admission is $60 and includes an all-you-can-eat buffet, draft beer and a question-and-answer session with the evening’s guest speakers. A portion of proceeds will be donated to JDRF, in honor of the late Cubs Hall-of-Famer Ron Santo.

Seating will be extremely limited, and fans are encouraged to order their tickets early. Tickets can be purchased by calling (630) 232-8811 or by visiting kccougars.com.

The following morning, the Cougars will hold a free Coaches Clinic that will feature professional instructors from the Cougars and Cubs organizations. The clinic will take place from 9 a.m. until noon inside the Fifth Third Bank Ballpark upper deck level. Attendees are asked to RSVP by calling the Cougars at (630) 232-8811 or by emailing sfreed@kanecountycougars.com. The clinic is provided free-of-charge to participants as a community service from the Cougars and Cubs organizations.

Donuts and coffee will be provided for attendees.

Season tickets, ticket packages, catered event group outings and single-game tickets are on sale for the 2013 season. Opening Night at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark is set for Thursday, April 4, when the Cougars host Quad Cities at 6:30 p.m. Fans can learn more about the 2013 season at kccougars.com.

Cougars to host meet-and-greet with Santa, Ozzie

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Event at ballpark to include ornament, cookie decorating
GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars will host a Christmas Meet and Greet event, featuring Santa Claus and Ozzie T. Cougar, on Saturday, Dec. 15, from 9 a.m. to noon inside the upper deck level at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

Children can meet Santa and Ozzie, pose for photos, as well as take part in numerous holiday activities inside the upper deck level. Those activities include a coloring station, ornament decorating station and a cookie decorating station.

The event is free, although there is a nominal cost for participating in the ornament and cookie decorating activities. A portion of proceeds will benefit Ozzie’s Outreach, the Cougars’ charitable foundation.

Fans are also asked to bring a gently used coat or sweatshirt. All collected items will be donated to area residents who are in need of warm clothing this winter. Fans who donate an item will receive four undated ticket vouchers, valid for a 2013 regular season Cougars game.

Additional information on the Christmas Meet and Greet event is available by calling (630) 232-8811 or visiting www.kccougars.com.

Pair of former KC Cougars win Silver Slugger Awards

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Total of 5 former Cougars have won award
GENEVA—A pair of former Kane County Cougars have won a 2012 Silver Slugger Award. Detroit Tigers infielder Miguel Cabrera and Minnesota Twins outfielder Josh Willingham were each honored last Thursday evening.

Cabrera and Willingham both played for the 2001 Cougars Midwest League Championship squad. The Silver Slugger, which was first awarded in 1980, is distributed to the best offensive players at each position in both the American and National Leagues.

Cabrera has now won four Silver Slugger Awards (2005, ’06, ’10, ’12) in his big league career. Cabrera’s 2012 campaign also included the American League Triple Crown—the first Triple Crown in Major League Baseball since 1967. Cabrera was named a Major League All-Star for the seventh time in his career, and is a strong candidate for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, to be announced on Thursday, Nov. 15.

Willingham was recognized with his first-ever Silver Slugger following a career year offensively. The 2012 season was Willingham’s first season as a Twin, and the 33-year old set personal bests with 35 home runs and 110 RBI.

The ’01 Cougars teammates have combined for 488 major league home runs.

Other past Silver Slugger Award winners who played at Kane County include Edgar Renteria (’93), a three-time Silver Slugger in 2000, ’02 and ’03. Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier (’03) won a Silver Slugger in 2009, while Dodgers teammate Adrian Gonzalez (’01) won his first Silver Slugger in 2011.

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