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Gainesville Braves: Micah Owings tinkering with hitting in HR derby for Back Pack Love fundraiser
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Gainesville High grad and Cincinnati Reds pitcher Micah Owings rounds third base after a homer against the St. Louis Cardinals during a 2009 game in St. Louis. - photo by The Associated Press

Micah Owings is thinking about stepping up to the plate for a good cause. 

The right-handed slugger who pitched six seasons in the majors is putting together a home run derby Saturday, highlighting his summer-league Gainesville Braves college baseball team at Chestatee High. The event will raise money for Back Pack Love through Straight Street Ministries of Gainesville. 

“If anyone is curious if I’m gonna participate and can still hit a home run, they should come on out,” said Owings, who hit a state-record 69 home runs during his career at Gainesville High from 2000-2002.

The event is free to attend, but it will be $1 for autographed baseball cards from players on hand.

Owings, also the manager of the Gainesville Braves, has tweaked the format of the event. 

It was originally slated to be a ‘sandlot’ game between the Gainesville Braves and Alpharetta Aviators. The decision to switch it up was made Tuesday between good friends Owings and Aviators manager, Brandon Boggs, due to the logistics of players returning to school and others experiencing lingering injuries. 

Gates will open at 10 a.m. with the home run derby to start about 10:30 a.m. Fans are encouraged to practice social distancing and wear protective face masks.

Owings isn’t making any promises, but says fans should have a good time. The last time the 2007 Silver Slugger Award winner planned to hit was before the 2017 Arizona Diamondbacks alumni game in Phoenix. Owings said the day before the game he tore his oblique muscle while taking batting practice at Seattle Mariners rookie camp. 

Owings hit nine home runs in the majors, two to straightaway center field for the Arizona Diamondbacks in his first homecoming start against the Atlanta Braves in 2007 at Turner Field. 

Boggs, a fourth-round selection in the 2004 draft, hit 10 pro homers during his time with the Texas Rangers (2008-2010) and Seattle Mariners (2011). He wrapped up his pro career playing in Triple-A for the Minnesota Twins (2013) and Atlanta Braves (2014). 

“I know Boggs is playing in a men’s league and still has some pop in the bat,” Owings said. 

Sam Carpenter, the pitching coach for the Gainesville Braves and a former Red Elephants standout left-handed pitcher, will also be taking part in the HR derby. 

Back Pack Love provides meals for school kids. Each pack contains approximately six meals. 

Southern Epicurean Food Truck will be present for the event. 

The event is sponsored by the Gainesville Braves, North Fulton Rotary Club and State Farm.

For more information on the event, contact Rick Clark at RClark@GainesvilleBraves.com.

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