Retired Houston Astro headlines benefit gala for Liberty High School Panthers baseball

Retired Houston Astros infielder Geoff Blum signs baseballs for a line of Liberty High School students during the LHS Panther Baseball Fourth Annual Benefit Gala on Saturday, Feb. 6, at the TVE Exposition Center.

Supporters of Liberty High School’s baseball program turned out Saturday night to back the team at its annual benefit gala. Money raised at these events is used to supplement the LHS Baseball Program through the purchase of equipment and uniforms.

While organizers are still tallying the donations, LHS Head Baseball Coach Robb Kirkland estimates it will be in the ballpark of $10,000 based on previous events.

“We just turn it around and put all that money on the kids. We have purchased uniforms, pitching machines and batting cages. We strive to use it for stuff like that,” Kirkland said. “This is our only fundraiser for the year.”

Players and coaches for Liberty High School’s baseball program gather for a group photo at the LHS Panther Baseball Fourth Annual Benefit Gala on Saturday, Feb. 4, at the TVE Exposition Center. The baseball program is under the guidance of Head Baseball Coach Robb Kirkland.

Headlining Saturday’s benefit gala was retired Houston Astros infielder Geoff Blum. After his speech, Blum autographed baseballs for guests at the event.

Kirkland thanked the parents of the athletes, local businesses and community members for their support of the high school baseball program.

“The parents are great supporters of our program and the high school,” said Kirkland. “We couldn’t do anything without them and the others who support us.”

Liberty ISD Superintendent Cody Abshier echoed that sentiment, adding, “We are so proud of Coach Kirkland. We appreciate all of the support that the parents and community give the team and the coaching staff.”

The dinner of steak, mashed potatoes and green beans was prepared by Daryl Diehl, Walt Saucier and Red Top Treats and was served by members of the high school baseball team. Following dinner and Blum’s speech, cakes and other items were auctioned off with some cakes fetching hundreds of dollars. First Liberty National Bank, a principal sponsor for these events, purchased items that were donated back for a second round in the auction. Brookshire Brothers in Liberty provided the steaks for the event while Red Top Treats provided the mashed potatoes and green beans. Kirkland also wished to thank John Hebert Jr. for helping organize the event and donating items, Smart Materials for helping with field maintenance and equipment, and financial support, Buddy Smart for donating and purchasing items, and helping set up for the banquet, and Liberty-Dayton Chrysler for financial support.

The team is set to hold its first scrimmage Monday afternoon, Feb. 8, at the Liberty City Park ball fields. As for how the team will fare this season, Kirkland is optimistic.

“We missed a year of games just like everyone else,” Kirkland. “Tonight we are just going to see how we do.”

This will be the last year on the team for three seniors – Evan Runkle, Joe Taylor and Ben Reidland.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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