WVU, Reds will be here

Got your 2014 calendar handy?

If so, then you want to mark the dates Jan. 25 and Feb. 13.

On both of those dates, local sports fans will have the opportunity to meet some members of high-profile sports teams.

As has become an annual tradition, the Cincinnati Reds Winter Caravan will make a stop at the Grand Central Mall in Vienna from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 25.

Local fans will get an opportunity to meet the first-year manager of the team, Bryan Price. He will be joined by pitcher Homer Bailey, Minor League Player of the Year Seth Mejias-Brean, broadcasters Chris Welsh and Jeff Piecoro, director of player development Jeff Graupe and the team’s mascot, Mr. Red.

In addition to getting an update on the latest happenings with the team, local fans also will get an opportunity to meet team members, who always are accommodating when asked for autographs.

Last year, veteran Reds announcer Marty Brennaman and second baseman Brandon Phillips were among those who stopped here.

The Reds are coming off a third place finish in the National League’s Central Division that earned the team a berth in the wild-card playoff round, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Three days after that setback, the Reds fired Dusty Baker, who had served as the team’s manager for six seasons.

Once the Reds leave town, local fans will start gearing up for the 18th annual Steak and Burger Dinner, which features members of the West Virginia University athletic teams in general and football in particular. The event, a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg, will take place at 6 p.m. on Feb. 13 at the Grand Pointe Conference and Meeting Center in Vienna.

The popular event, which offers local Mountaineer supporters an opportunity to get up close and personal with members of their favorite team, is the brainchild of former Boys and Girls Club executive director Mike Flanagan and Parkersburg native Allan Johnson, the former strength and conditioning coach at WVU (now at Northwestern University.)

Cost of the event is $100 per ticket with corporate tables priced at $1,000 for eight guests and two members of the Boys and Girls Club. Event organizers attempt to sit one Mountaineer athlete at each table.

Flanagan noted the first Steak and Burger Dinner was conducted on Jan. 23, 1997, and featured four members of the Mountaineer football team, including quarterback Marc Bulger, who went on to play in the National Football League and recently was featured on The Golf Channel’s Big Break program.

Flanagan and John Rockhold are serving co-chairmen of the dinner and are working with the club’s executive director Ben Shuman. For tickets or more information, call 304-485-6434.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newsandsentinel.com