During his introductory remarks as general manager of the Lexington County Blowfish, Tony Baldwin got to break some big news.
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The Blowfish will host the 2023 All-Star Show, the marquee event for the Coastal Plain League, the summer collegiate wood bat league in which the team competes.
The league’s annual all-star celebration is set for July 18-19 at Lexington County Baseball Stadium. According to the league’s website, the programming will include a Fan Fest, an All-Star Skills Challenge, Scout Day activities and the 23rd annual All-Star Game.
“We're very excited to have that hosted here in our community and our ballpark,” Baldwin said. “It'll be the third time overall that we've hosted and the first since 2018.”
The Blowfish regularly host community luncheons during the off season, and the one held Sept. 21 was Baldwin’s first since being announced as general manager last month. He leaned on his experience playing college baseball at Concordia University-Ann Arbor in Michigan, where he said he still holds the career record for being hit by pitches, in framing what he will bring to the Blowfish organization.
“I was hit 40 times in three years,” Baldwin said, explaining that when he struggled to improve his batting average, he turned to becoming expert in getting hit by pitches as a way to get on base and contribute to the team.
“I was doing anything ... to help the team win,” he added. “I carried that over into my career.”
Baldwin previously served as vice president of marketing for the Macon Bacon and Florence Flamingos, teams Lexington County competes against in the Coastal Plain League. He’s the team’s first general manager since 2019, when Theo Bacot left for a job at Blue Raider Sports Properties, the official broadcast partner of Middle Tennessee State athletics.
“I don't feel like we could work for better people,” he said of team owners Bill and Vicki Shanahan. “You hear so much about the community items that they bring to this community — I should say to Lexington County, and the Columbia area. And I think it's very important. I've worked for a lot of different places, whether it be athletic directors or universities or other owners, and I don't feel like there's as much community as there is right here with the Shanahans. So I'm very excited to be here.”
Also announced at the luncheon were the competitors for the Blowfish’s third annual Boiled Peanut-Eating Contest, which will be held Oct. 12 during the first day of the 2022 S.C. State Fair in Columbia.
Past winner Jonathon Rush, host of “The Morning Rush” on 97.5 WCOS, is returning to the contest, and he announced the rest of the lineup, trading jovial jabs with rivals Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon and WIS sports anchor Rick Henry, who were also in attendance. Joining those three in the competition will be ABC Columbia weather anchor/morning co-host Tyler Ryan and WLTX sports anchor Chandler Mack.
“This is highly coveted right here,” Rush said, hoisting the golden peanut trophy that will go to the winner.
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