Getting a big league boost

December 22, 2011 6:38 AM

School colors will clash even in a Major League clubhouse.

Former UCSB baseball star Bill Geivett, now assistant general manager of the Colorado Rockies, started a good-natured turf war last summer while walking new Gauchos coach Andrew Checketts through the visitors clubhouse at Dodger Stadium.

He reported to Mark Massari, UCSB's director of athletics, that he undressed Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of Long Beach State in an exchange that went something like this:

"Beware everyone," Geivett said while leading Checketts past Tulowitzki's locker.

"Hey Checketts, you're the new Gaucho coach?" said Tulowitzki, picking up the gauntlet that Geivett had just thrown down.

"Yeah, nice to meet you," Checketts said innocently.

"Well, the Dirtbags are still going to kick your butt," Tulowitzki added.

But Rockies' outfielder Ryan Spilborghs, another former Gaucho, was at a nearby locker, ready to cover Checketts' back.

"Well, not anymore," Spilborghs declared.

Clubhouse bravado is one thing, but these former Gauchos - along with seven-time All-Star Michael Young of the Texas Rangers and Skip Schumaker of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals - plan to put their money where their mouths are. They've committed to attend a fundraising dinner and auction at Earl Warren Showgrounds on Jan. 27 and golf tournament at the Glen Annie Golf Course the following morning to support both the UCSB and Santa Barbara Foresters baseball teams.

"This is a grassroots approach, because people haven't been engaged," Massari said. Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, after all, could use some new grass, among other things.

He's enlisting such former Gaucho diehards as the Hammerheads, a student-rooter group from the 1980s who are using the January event as a reunion.

Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, the Rockies' former skipper, will take part in Friday's auction, dinner and Hall of Fame induction of former Foresters Sean Luft and Morgan Ensberg. Tickets are going for $75, with another $67 getting you into the golf tournament, although both events are free to those who join the new Gaucho9 booster club.

Talking smack with Young, Schumaker and the Gaucho Rockies will cost you extra.

"We'll auction off spots for those who want to play in the major leaguers' foursomes," Massari said.

He's already received donations for the new entry plaza to Gaucho Park, baseball's version of Harder Stadium's Curtice Gate, and hopes to have it done by next summer.

"We saw Mario Hollands at our basketball game at Cal, and he's now with the Phillies organization," Massari said. "He said he's coming back for this. Virgil Vasquez is working out right now with Coach Checketts, and Spilly was hitting down in the cage there.

"They sense we can get this done."

The Jan. 27 event will include an open house at the baseball stadium, which will be adorned with new, giant banners highlighting UCSB's rich baseball history. Among them is one of former UCSB coach Al Ferrer going nose-to-nose with former Cal State Fullerton coach Augie Garrido.

Throwing down the gauntlet, after all, is a Gaucho tradition.

Mark Patton's column appears on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Email: mpatton@newspress.com

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