NEW ALBANY — It takes a lot of money to run a high school athletic department.

There are uniforms to purchase and referees to pay. New Albany High School paid an estimated $30,000 last year for referees alone. And none of that money is provided by school corporations, only travel expenses and salaries for coaches.

To offset those costs, many athletic departments hold fundraisers, anything from shirt sales to golf scrambles.

New Albany High School Athletic Director B.J. McAlister is going a different route — he is bringing Ken Griffey Sr. to town to speak to supporters.

Griffey, the starting rightfielder for the 1975 and ‘76 World Series champion Cincinnati Reds and an important cog of the Big Red Machine, will speak at the first-ever New Albany Sports Social April 19 at The Grand in downtown New Albany.

McAlister did his homework before deciding to organize the first sports social. He talked to athletic directors from schools who have hosted similar events. He also recently attended Cincinnati La Salle High School’s 36th annual Sports Stag which featured Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs. That event was sold out.

McAlister hopes the April 19 event will be as well.

“We think he will put us over the hump,” McAlister said of Griffey. “I heard he is a great speaker.”

The hope is to sell 400 tickets for the sports social. The VIP tickets are $100 each which includes a reception with Griffey, as well as dinner and an autographed baseball. Larra Overton, a 2001 New Albany graduate who is currently a producer, host and reporter for the Indianapolis Colts, will be the master of ceremonies. There will also be silent and live auctions.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Don Unruh, retired former New Albany athletic director who is part of the committee McAlister assembled to plan the event. “It should be a lot of fun to get all the New Albany supporters together.”

McAlister said he scheduled Griffey through the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. He said they have been “a class act” to work with. He wanted to get someone who local sports fans would remember, preferably a former Reds’ player.

Griffey, who is 69, played for four teams from 1973 to 1991. His best years were with the Reds when he was part of two championship teams.

He finished his career with a .296 batting average and 2,143 hits.

His son also was a pretty good Major League player, Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.

McAlister said he is hoping for a full house. He said so far the reaction has been “very positive.”

“We have 1,704 season ticket holders [basketball] ... and can only sell 400 tickets for this event,” he said. “I think we are going to have a big crowd.”

While individual tickets are $100 each, a table of 10 can be purchased for $900. No outside autographs will be allowed. The balls to be autographed for VIP ticket holders have already been shipped to Griffey and will be signed and returned prior to the event.

For more information or tickets call 812-542-8507.

Chris Morris is an assistant editor at the News and Tribune. Contact him via email at Follow him on Twitter: @NAT_ChrisM.

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