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Utah Utes baseball: Ozzie Smith to help Utes' program

Published: Sunday, Jan. 22 2012 7:44 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith is sharing his wizardry with the University of Utah baseball program. He'll be the featured guest at this year's season-opening banquet and fundraiser for the Utes on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at the Salt Lake City Sheraton Hotel.

"It's great that we have Ozzie coming. We hope the night will go great and that we'll have a lot of fun," said Utah baseball coach Bill Kinneberg. "Hopefully we'll get some people there to get geared up for our season."

Smith was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 after a stellar career that included 15 all-star appearances in 19 seasons. During his tenure with the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals, Smith set major league shortstop records for assists and double plays. He collected 2,460 hits and 580 steals before retiring in 1996.

Smith helped the Cardinals reach the World Series three times, winning the title in 1982.

Last year's featured guest Dave Winfield made Smith's participation in Utah's annual event possible. Winfield had a good time helping the Utes and told Kinneberg that he wanted to reach out to Smith for 2012. The former players are good friends and Smith called Kinneberg three days later to set things up.

"Dave kind of paved the path for us on that one," Kinneberg said. "... It worked out pretty well."

Tickets for "An Evening with Ozzie Smith" are $100 per person or $1,000 per table. A reception is set for 6 p.m. Dinner will be served an hour later.

For tickets contact Jill Gillman at (801) 581-6445 or via e-mail at jgillman@huntsman.utah.edu.

Utah baseball begins practicing Jan. 27. The Utes open non-conference play Feb. 17-20 at UC Davis. Their first Pac-12 series is March 23-25 at Oregon.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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