RICHMOND, Va. – One of the most heated college baseball rivalries in the state of Virginia and all of the country will be put aside to honor the late VCU Baseball Coach Paul Keyes (ODU '84), who lost his courageous battle with cancer in November of 2012, when VCU and Old Dominion meet on the baseball diamond this spring.
The Rams and Monarchs will play in the first-ever Key Dog Strike Out Cancer Classic on April 23 at War Memorial Stadium in Hampton, Va.
"It's a privilege to be able to team up with Old Dominion University and the Peninsula Pilots to honor Coach Keyes and bring awareness to such a terrible disease," said VCU Head Coach Shawn Stiffler. "Paul had major impacts on both universities, as a coach and an educator at VCU and as a student-athlete at Old Dominion, and to be able to play in his hometown of Hampton is very exciting."
Keyes was Head Coach of the Rams for 18 years amassing 603 wins. He was also a four-year letter winner and standout for the Monarch baseball team, graduating from Old Dominion in 1984.
General admission tickets are being sold through the Peninsula Pilot's ticket office for $5 each. Fans can also opt to purchase the ticket and button package (buttons will have each school's classic logo) for $10 with the extra $5 being donated to the Keyes family. Students from both universities will receive free admission with a valid student ID. Fans can also purchase t-shirts to support the Key Dog Classic in their respective team colors through bonfirefunds.com. The on sale date for tickets and t-shirts will be announced at a later date.
"We are so excited to be able to partner with VCU for the Key Dog Strike Out Cancer Classic," added Old Dominion Head Coach Chris Finwood, a former VCU assistant. "Paul was a great friend of mine and a mentor and I hope we can carry his legacy on through this game."
Both the Rams and Monarchs will be wearing special jerseys that will be auctioned off following the game. Also after the game, student-athletes from each team will be shaving their heads as part of the St. Baldrick's Foundation's "Basebald," which raises money and awareness for childhood cancer.
"Cancer has affected most people we know in some way and we hope to raise money and awareness to help fight this terrible disease," said Finwood. "Also partnering with the St. Baldrick's for the Basebald event after the game will help us fight childhood cancer. A huge thanks goes out to the entire Peninsula Pilots organization as they are really the one making this all possible by allowing us to use War Memorial Stadium for this event. The Pilots do such a wonderful job of making things 'first class' and I'm sure this game will be no different, and fans will see some outstanding college baseball and a heartwarming tribute to a great Monarch and Ram, Paul Keyes.
Tickets will be available online by visiting www.PeninsulaPilots.com or through the Pilot's box office at 757-245-2222. All proceeds, including tickets, t-shirt sales, buttons, etc., will be donated to Paul's wife, Trisha and family.
"I would like to thank the Peninsula Pilots for being a gracious host as well as St. Baldrick's for working with college baseball teams to raise awareness for childhood cancer," said Stiffler. "It's going to be a great night with two teams competing hard for one great cause."