Gary Chamber’s Lakeshore Classic Luncheon brings Hawkins to home plate
When a homeboy makes good it’s big news; a homeboy coming back to town is even bigger news. So, the excitement is building over the impending visit of Gary’s LaTroy Hawkins. Now retired after a 21-year career in Major League baseball, Hawkins is coming home to speak at the Gary Chamber of Commerce 11th annual Lakeshore Corporate Classic Luncheon at the Diamond Center, 500 E. 5th Avenue, on Tuesday, November 20.
The two-day Lakeshore Classic basketball tournament over the years has become a holiday tradition amongst schools in Northwest Indiana and nearby Chicago. This year’s theme, “Step up for Education,” according to founder Chuck Hughes, will motivate and elevate youth as well as cast a positive light on Northwest Indiana.
“The Classic provides a forum for our student athletes, and it brings people into our community,” notes Hughes.
Boys’ teams will open the Classic on Friday, November 23 at 6:00 p.m. when Thea Bowman Academy meets Indianapolis’ George Washington High School. At 8:00 p.m. girl Cougars from Gary’s West Side Leadership Academy and Chicago’s famed Marshall High School Lady Commandos meet at center court.
On Saturday, November 24 it’s Theodore Roosevelt High School versus Calumet New Tech High School at 6:00 p.m. The tip-off for host school West Side Leadership Academy against Marquette Catholic High School (Michigan City) is at 8:00 p.m. All games will be played at Westside Leadership Academy.
Though used to having a big crowd watching him on the pitcher’s mound, Hawkins admits to some nervousness as his home town speaking engagement approaches. “It’s the first time I’ll be speaking to people for 15 or 20 minutes straight, so it’s going to be a learning experience for me.” The Lakeshore Classic Luncheon is his first public speaking appearance.
Hawkins did not plan on a baseball career, initially he thought he would play in the NBA. With a laugh, he said had he been approached about a baseball career, “I would have said, ‘man, you’re crazy’ I’m going to play in the NBA.” As it turned out, Hawkins pitched 21 years in the Majors. A West Side grad, class of 1991, Hawkins is also a television analyst for the Minnesota Twins, and godfather to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Lakeshore Classic organizers say Hawkins’ triumphant return to Gary merits a splashy welcome home. Representatives from business, community, educational and other areas are expected to welcome him with a variety of tributes.
Pre-game festivities are also scheduled for Saturday, November 24 when the Gary Chamber salutes sorority sisters and fraternity brothers with “Greeks on Parade.” Greek organizations are invited to introduce their organizations to the college students of tomorrow and will be featured at center court. The sororities and fraternities are invited to wear their colors, display banners, and distribute information about their organization. To use the Classic as a fundraising opportunity contact Chuck Hughes at the Gary Chamber of Commerce at (219) 885-7407 or www. Garychamber.com for additional information.