Bennington Banner and Manchester Journal's fourth annual Regional All Stars gala

MLB legend Jim Kaat is special guest at our 2020 Regional All Stars gala

County’s top athletes and coaches to be honored June 23 in Bennington

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Major League Baseball pitching legend Jim Kaat will celebrate the region's top high school athletes and coaches at the Bennington Banner and Manchester Journal's fourth annual Regional All Stars gala in June.

The MLB legend pitched in the Major League for 25 years in a career that spanned four decades. A three-time All Star and 16-time Gold Glove winner, Kaat won a World Series title in 1982 with the St. Louis Cardinals. Kaat now works as an assistant to the president for the Minnesota Twins and as a baseball broadcaster.

The Bennington Banner and Manchester Journal's Regional All Stars Gala is Tuesday, June 23, at Hubbell Homestead at Colgate Park on Route 9 in Bennington. It's sponsored by Southwestern Vermont Health Care, Bennington Subaru and Olin Scott.

Kaat, who has ties to Southern Vermont, will deliver the keynote address and hand out the Banner-Journal Regional All Star awards to athletes and coaches receiving honors. Athletes and coaches selected as All Stars will be announced by sport on Sundays starting this month in the Bennington Banner and Manchester Journal, in print and online.

In an interview, Kaat said he is excited to meet the region's student-athletes.

"I always enjoy [speaking to students]," Kaat said, "because my parents had such a great influence on me from a lifestyle standpoint, and my dad from a baseball standpoint. I like to talk to young people about what I went through, highs and lows, in hopes that as they embark on their post-high school career, that it might be helpful to them."

"I am proud that the Bennington Banner and Manchester Journal have created the tradition of celebrating the achievements of our area’s young people at our annual Regional All Stars gala," said Fredric D. Rutberg, the publisher of the papers. "Jim Kaat has been a stellar achiever, and I can’t wait to hear what he will tell our local student-athletes. Personally, I would like to thank Jim for generously giving of himself and his time so that this year’s gala promises to be the most memorable yet."

Kaat appeared in 898 games in his career, starting 625 of them for a 283-237 record, and a 3.45 earned-run average.

Notably, Kaat, as a Minnesota Twin, faced off against Sandy Koufax in three World Series games in 1965. Kaat won a career-high 25 games in the 1966 season.

After his pitching career, Kaat quickly transitioned into broadcasting and called New York Yankees games on YES Network. He is scheduled to call 10 games this season on MLB Network with broadcast partner Bob Costas, and another 10 games on the Twins' TV network.

"It keeps me in touch with the game," Kaat said. "I'm fortunate that this will be the start of my eighth decade in Major League Baseball. I'm very fortunate that I have my health. Physically and mentally, I'm able to do it still, and as long as I feel like I can, I think that I should keep doing it."

Kaat's Vermont connections begin with one of the region's historic golf courses — Ekwanok Country Club in Manchester.

"[Kaat's wife, Margie] was a golf pro down here in Florida at a club where friends of ours introduced us," Kaat said. "Eleven years ago, we got married, so we got a chance to play Ekwanok Golf Club one day as guests, and then found out they were accepting new members and fortunately we were accepted there, and that's what brings us to Southern Vermont."

At the June 23 gala, Kaat will be on hand to help recognize student athletes and coaches from varsity sports sanctioned by the Vermont Principals Association and New York State Public High School Athletic Association, and offered at the region's seven public and independent high schools.

Those student-athletes and coaches receiving honors in their sports also will be finalists for special awards for courage, perseverance and leadership.

In addition to athletes and coaches of the year honors for boys' and girls' sports, awards will be given for remarkable comeback stories, unsung heroes who made their teams' successes possible, and ambassadors of sports whose effort and dedication promoted a positive reputation for their school and their teammates.

Boys' and girls' teams of the year will also be recognized for their 2019-20 athletic achievement.

After spending eight decades around sports, Kaat said his keynote speech is going to be about what young adults can do to make themselves better athletes and people.

The All Stars gala is from 6 to 9 p.m., Tuesday, June 23. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

All All Star honorees receive free admission to the event, while tickets are available to the public for $29. Family four-packs are available for $100.

To buy a ticket, visit benningtonbanner.com/2020regionalallstars.


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