GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Former West Michigan Whitecaps were back in the Grand Rapids area on Thursday for the team’s annual winter banquet.
Don Kelly and Cameron Maybin were inducted into the Whitecaps Hall of Fame during the banquet.
Kelly, a free agent shortstop, played with the Whitecaps in 2002. He’s the only active player to play every position in the big leagues.
“It’s awesome. Talking about going back to that season, playing for Phil Regan. To have that experience, to be able to come back and be honored in this way, it’s tremendous,” Kelly said.
“DK was a spectacular player with the Whitecaps,” Whitecaps Vice President Jim Jarecki said. “He really what epitomizes what a Whitecap is.”
Maybin is currently an outfielder for the Detroit Tigers. When he was with the Whitecaps in 2006, the team won a championship.
“It’s exciting,” Maybin said of being inducted to the Hall of Fame. “It brings back a lot of fun memories, a lot of good times here. … Winning it all here, it was a fun memory.”
He praised Matt Walbeck, who was the Whitecaps’ manager at the time.
“He was a huge part of the growth progress that I had during my time here,” he said. “I’m truly thankful for the experience that I had here. I always tell people, every stop, each person that you meet along the way has a little bit to do with your maturation process, even if they don’t know it. And the Whitecaps organization definitely something had to do with my growth.”
Proceeds from the Thursday banquet, which was attended by nearly 600 people, will go to the Whitecaps Community Foundation, which will pass them along to the Detroit Tigers Foundation and the YMCA Inner-City Youth Baseball and Softball Program.
“These kids get the lessons of baseball, what Americana really is and these kids can reflect that,” Jarecki said of the YMCA program.
Whitecaps pitchers and catchers report for training in less than a month. The Whitecaps open their season on April 7 at South Bend. Their home opener at Fifth Third Ballpark is April 9, also against South Bend.