GARY, Ind. — The Gary SouthShore RailCats Third Annual Fan Fest is only two days away and the RailCats have done everything to ensure this year’s installment will be the best yet. The number of special guests now stands at 18 with the additions of former All-Stars Eric McNamee and Josh Habel, and former pitcher Brian Halford.
Discount presale tickets to Fan Fest 2011 are available only through Friday, with prices going up $5 at the Radisson Hotel on Saturday. Presale tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for 2011 season ticket holders and kids (age 12 and under). Your pass to Fan Fest includes an all-day pass to Fan Fest, a Ticket to Opening Day, Friday, May 20 and a commemorative Fan Fest program and poster (first 1,000 fans only). The first 500 adults and first 300 kids will also snag a free t-shirt.
The additions of McNamee, Habel and Halford round out a star-studded list of guests at this year’s Fan Fest. Featuring New York Mets Pitcher and former RailCat Tim Byrdak and former major leaguer and Gary Roosevelt High School alum Wallace Johnson, Fan Fest 2011 has an impressive list of current and former players and coaches. In attendance will include Willie Glen, Tanner Townsend, Tony Cogan, Greg Tagert, Mike Rohde, Steve Haake, Jermaine Allensworth, Eric Blakeley, Alex Taylor, Travis Kerber, Dan Soria, Mick Curran and Kenny Graham. The RailCats will also unveil the Tenth Anniversary Team at this year’s Fan Fest to celebrate our Tenth Season in Northwest Indiana.
Five-year RailCats veteran McNamee was a walk-drawing, line-drive hitting menace during his distinguished Northern League career. Plucked out of Middle Tennessee State University midway through the 2005 season, McNamee went from a utility spark plug as a rookie during the 2005 Championship run to a fan-favorite and lineup mainstay the next four seasons. A hard-nosed and scrappy ballplayer, McNamee was an adept tormentor of Northern League pitchers, drawing 51 walks or more in his last four seasons and single-handedly destroying opposing hurlers’ pitch counts and rhythm. A pretty solid hitter in his own right, McNamee batted a career-best .302 in 2008 and earned the starting nod in the Northern League All-Star Game that summer, the second of his three All-Star selections. And while McNamee never hit a regular season home run, he clubbed a pair of playoff home runs to lead the RailCats to five straight NL Championship Series berths.
Habel was an integral member of a RailCats rotation that proved to be the strength of the 2007 Northern League Championship Team. Habel spent two successful seasons in Northwest Indiana amassing 20 wins and a 3.63 ERA. Originally selected by the San Francisco Giants in the 14th round of the 2002 major league entry draft, Habel is a 2002 graduate of the University of Northern Iowa. Habel advanced as high as Double-A in the affiliated minor leagues before joining the ‘Cats in 2006. While the Dubuque, Iowa native had a solid 2006 campaign, 2007 was easily Habel’s best as a professional. Habel pitched a RailCats career record 155 innings and tied the career mark for wins (12) en route to two Northern League Pitcher of the Week Awards and a Northern League Post-Season All-Star selection.
Halford played his only professional season with the RailCats after spending four years at the University of Louisville where he was posted a 16-9 record with a 4.28 career ERA and was a First Team All Conference-USA Selection in 2005. In a RailCats uniform, Halford earned a 5-1 record and amassed 36 strikeouts in 60 innings as a ‘Cat. The Louisville, Ky. native also attended the same high school as Chicago Cubs reliever Todd Wellemeyer.
For complete Fan Fest information – including a schedule of events – and to order presale tickets today, call the RailCats at 219.882.2255 or log on to the team’s official website at www.railcatsbaseball.com. Doors will open at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Radisson Hotel in Merrillville, with Fan Fest scheduled to wrap up at 3:30 p.m.