Bigger really is better. In terms of
raising money, Dennis Young and his Pirate Club associates live the
mantra every day. They are forced with the duty to pry money away from
donors. On Saturday night, there wasn’t much prying. Instead, there was
a steady flow of checks and money from big time donors.
It was a big and busy weekend for donors. Dedication preceded the final
regular season baseball game in Lewis Field at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
The face plaques of donors that made a pledge over $25,000 are a nice
touch for families and organizations that gave so much to make it
It was appropriate that the donors shared the field with former manager
Keith LeClair. LeClair’s vision and personality is the primary reason
the new stadium now stands in place of the old Harrington Field.
After the baseball game, the donors were shipped away to the annual
Pirate Club auction. Williams Arena was transformed into a purple and
gold palace housing every feasible item under the sun including
grandfather clocks and exercise bikes.
During the silent auction, donors received bid numbers and were
competing with items from an Alice Cooper signed guitar to free tanning
for a year. Local establishments provided heavy hors d’oeuvres while
donors socialized. Some donors got prized items at a severe discount
while others happily paid a little more than the listed value.
At 8 pm, the silent auction was shut down and donors were filtered into
the live auction. Donors were getting into bidding wars over fishing
trips and weekend vacations. Wives were spending lavishly and their
husbands didn’t seem to mind.
Two donors will be receiving a visit from ole Saint Nick himself around
Christmas time for a mere $800. Two signed Billy Richardson jerseys
auctioned off by a persistent Randy Mazey went for $900 apiece. A
shadow box with a baseball and a message from Keith LeClair auctioned
off by his father went in the $3,000 range. Some of the vacations and
specialty items cost donors in excess of $6,000.
With all of the items added together, the live auction alone raised
nearly $72,000. Although the Pirate Club has yet to finish analyzing
the data, estimates of gross profit ranged close to $120,000. The final
figure more than exceeded the original $100,000 goal.
The ECU athletic program now stands at roughly $1.2 million in the
To combat the issue, the Pirates only need to have nine more auctions.
Realistically though, these donors like Walter and Marie Williams are
hoping to jump-start a new trend where ECU will be able to fully cover
athletic scholarship costs.
Most of the credit for Saturday’s success should go to Shannon Padrick.
Padrick is the special events planner for the Pirate Club and organized
both the baseball dedication and the auction. Padrick and Lucas Stuckey
among other volunteers worked tirelessly around the clock contacting
businesses, setting up decorations and making sure donors received
With the state of ECU’s athletic program in a flux, the Pirate Nation
made their collective voice heard. It was a loud and bold statement
towards the Division I landscape. Despite the losses and frustration on
the field, Pirates are resilient and will bounce back. All it takes is
a little money, and the bigger the better.