The Fighting Illini Dugout Club
The Fighting Illini Dugout Club is the booster club for Illinois Baseball. It is devoted to supporting the Illinois Baseball program. In past years, the Dugout Club has been able to provide the team with laptop computers for use on the road, senior gifts, a senior barbeque and the annual Hot Stove Banquet in honor of the baseball team.
The Dugout Club also has sponsored the internet broadcasts of all Illinois Baseball games that air on WDWS AM-1400 in Champaign. Recently, the club funded a locker room redecoration project, along with purchasing both a full personal computer set-up, complete with a DVD burner for highlight videos, and a new big screen TV for the players' lounge. The club also helped fund the furnishing of the clubhouse addition that was finished prior to the 2011 home season.
A one-year membership to the Dugout Club costs $50 and can be obtained by visiting the official website of the Fighting Illini Dugout Club. In return, members receive a membership card, plaque, invitation to pregame brunches at various times throughout the Big Ten season and access to members-only features at IllinoisDugoutClub.com, including updates on former coaches and players, and notes from head coach Dan Hartleb and current players.
In recent years the Hot Stove Banquet has attracted record numbers of family, friends and fans, many of whom turn out to see each year's featured speaker. Past speakers include former Illini and current Blue Jays catcher Darrin Fletcher, former Cardinals skipper Whitey Herzog, Cardinals catcher Joe Girardi, Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk and former Minneosta Twins great Paul Molitor. Illinois baseball added to the list with St. Louis Cardinals great Al Hrabosky, who spoke at the 2005 Hot Stove Banquet, and Jim Thome, who was the keynote speaker in 2006. Chicago White Sox executive Roland Hemond headlined the 2007 Hot Stove Banquet and 1983 AL Rookie of the Year Ron Kittle spoke at the 2008 event. Former major league pitcher Andy Benes was the keynote speaker at the 2009 banquet, Chicago Cubs' pitcher Randy Wells spoke at the 2010 event and former Major League catcher Mike Matheny headlined the 2011 Hot Stove Banquet. Most recently, World Series champion David Eckstein spoke in 2012, former Illini Donn Pall took the stage in 2013 and former Illini Chris Robinson is slated for 2014.