Of baseball and speakers

It might be tempting to think that spring is going to come early, especially after the highs reached the into the 70s across our region last week.

Even a look at the calendar reminds us that winter will officially come to an end in a little less than a month.

With the longer temperatures and warmer days will come some interesting events that members of our community have come to look forward to.

One is the annual bus trip to the Pirates’ home-opener, presented by the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. That game is set for 1:05 p.m. April 2. Minnesota will be the opponent when baseball returns to PNC Park for the first time since September.

There’s always a great deal of excitement centered around opening day, and residents of the Tri-State Area have found the annual bus trip to be an enjoyable experience. The cost to join us for opening day is $120, and that includes a home plate box seat for the game, bus transporation to and from Steubenville to the North Shore and a snack bag, courtesy of AVI Systems.

Spring training games got under way this weekend, and the Pirates are scheduled to open the regular season on the road this year, with a three-game interleague series in Detroit that’s scheduled to begin on March 29.

Opening day at home remains one of the most special days of the season, a time to look at possibilities and consider all that can happen during the 157 games that will follow.

If you haven’t made plans to join us on April 2, we hope you will do so soon. You can call Diana Brown at (740) 283-4711 for all of the details and to make your reservation.

The return of baseball –and everything else that makes the spring and summer special — is right around the corner. Get ready to sit back and enjoy.

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For the last 10 months or so, a question that often comes up in conversation is, “Who will be the next presenter in the Herald-Star Speaker Series?’

The series has become one of the region’s premiere events since it was launched in November 2012. That success comes from following a simple goal — to bring presentations about timely topics to our community at an affordable cost. The presentations, which have been held in the Steubenville High School auditorium and Catholic Central’s Lanman Hall, have been memorable events. The list has included:

¯ Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin, on Nov. 14, 2012. Hill is a former Secret Service agent who was in charge of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s protection detail. He and McCubbin, who was the co-author of his book “Mrs. Kennedy and Me,” offered a look at the excitement that surrounded the John F. Kennedy administration and the sadness that came with the president’s assassination in Dallas.

¯ Former CIA agents Tony and Jonna Mendez came to Steubenville on April 9, 2013. The two detailed their work in the field of espionage and Tony’s experience as a mater of disguise — training that allowed him to pull off the rescue of American diplomats from Iran in 1980. That story was dramatized in the award-winning film “Argo.”

¯ Richard Phillips, the merchant mariner who was captured by Somali pirates and held hostage at sea while the world looked on, on April 3, 2014, told area residents about his capture, how he survived and the tense moments that led up to his rescue by Navy SEALS. His story was the inspiration for the film “Captain Phillips.”

¯ Area residents had the chance to remember the lives lost in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and to hear from a person who played a key role in protecting President George W. Bush on Sept. 11, 2014. That’s when retired Air Force Lt. Col. Mark A. Tillman talked about the time he spent as the pilot of Air Force One, especially his efforts to return Bush to Washington, D.C., in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the crash of another hijacked plane in Shanksville, Pa.

¯ Rebekah Gregory brought her story of survival to our community on April 16, 2015. She was severely injured in the terror attacks of April 15, 2013, during the Patriots Day celebration in Boston and the running of the Boston Marathon.

¯ On April 25, 2016, Mark Geist, a member of the annex security team, offered details about the Battle of Benghazi that happened on Sept. 11-12, 2012. It was a story that was dramatized in the film “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.”

¯ Jeanine Pirro, the former prosecutor, Emmy Award-winning legal analyst and host of the Fox News Channel’s “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” offered her perspective on national and international politics on Oct. 10, 2016. And, retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, who served as the director of our nation’s top intelligence agencies, offered an insider’s view of what is happening around the world when he spoke on April 27.

Quality presentations like those are only possible with the help of very dedicated sponsors, including Trinity Health System, Eastern Gateway Community College, the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Cattrell Cos. Inc., the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, EZtoUse.com and WTRF-TV. Providing special support are the University Inn at Franciscan Square, Piergallini Catering, Newbrough Photo, Hertz-Thrifty Car Rental and Catholic Central.

Plans for the next presentation are well under way. Details will be released in our March 4 edition.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

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