Yogi Named Ambassador for Bob Hope Classic

Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra has been named the first-ever "Classic Ambassador" for the Bob Hope Classic. Berra, who played in the Classic 15 times from 1995-2009, will perform a wide variety of duties on behalf of the iconic PGA Tour event at the 51st Classic, January 18-24.

"In recognition of Yogi's long-standing association with the Bob Hope Classic and his energetic and tireless contributions to extending the reach and impact of the Classic, especially to the many charities and fans the Classic serves throughout the Coachella Valley, we are delighted to be able to honor him in this way," said John Foster, president and tournament chairman.

"It's a privilege for me to be honored by the Bob Hope Classic, which has always been a wonderful tournament," Berra said. "I thought the world of Bob, for all he's done for golf and everything and everybody, and I cherish the times we spent. Playing this tournament every year over the last 15 years, I can honestly say has been a great experience. I can also say, being 84, not many can beat me in experience."

Berra's role as ambassador will encompass attendance at a series of special events throughout Classic week: the Classic Gala, Classic Kickoff Breakfast, Five-Star sponsor dinner, charity distribution ceremony, hitting the ceremonial first tee shot on Wednesday, January 20, the VIP Celebrity Dinner, appearances at the four Classic courses to visit with celebrities, amateurs and professionals, the Amateur Awards reception, and concluding with the winneršs championship presentation on the 18th green at the Palmer Private Course at PGA West on Sunday, January 24.

A World War II veteran of the U.S. Navy, Berra was a 15-time All-Star during a playing career with the New York Yankees from 1946-63 and with the New York Mets in 1965. He had a .285 career batting average with 359 home runs and 1,430 RBI and is widely regarded as one of the greatest catchers in baseball history. He won the American League MVP award three times. He led the Yankees in RBI seven consecutive seasons from 1949-55.

He was a member of 14 World Series teams, 10 of which won championships, both records. He established seven World Series records and hit the first pinch-hit home run in World Series history off the Dodgers' Ralph Branca in Game 3 of the 1947 World Series. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. Berra managed the Yankees in 1964 and in 1984-85 and the Mets from 1972-75. He was a coach on world championship teams with the Mets in 1969 and Yankees in 1977-78. Berra is a recipient of the Boy Scouts of Americašs highest adult award, the Silver Buffalo Award, and is active with the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center at Montclair State (N.J.) University. During and after his playing days he has been one of America's most iconic advertising symbols.

Defending champion Pat Perez and past champions Chad Campbell, Joe Durant, Charley Hoffman, Justin Leonard and Kenny Perry head the early pro entries for the 2010 Classic. Famed musician Kenny G, future baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux, actor/game show host John O'Hurley and actor Kurt Russell are among the initial celebrity athletes and entertainers set to participate.

Joining the past champions among the early pro entries are Tim Clark, Brian Gay, Jerry Kelly, Matt Kuchar, La Quinta resident Scott McCarron, Brandt Snedeker, David Toms and Boo Weekley. Perry, Gay, Toms, Kelly, Kuchar, Clark and Leonard were in the top 30 on the PGA Tour money list this year.

Other early celebrity participants for the 2010 Classic, a desert tradition since 1960, include: musicians Alice Cooper, Don Felder (formerly of the Eagles) and Robby Krieger (The Doors), singers Michael Bolton, Josh Kelley and Clay Walker, actors Anthony Anderson (Law and Order), William Devane (24, The West Wing), Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice), Jerry Ferrara (Entourage), Joel Gretsch (V), Oliver Hudson (Rules of Engagement), Kyle MacLachlan (Desperate Housewives), Chris O'Donnell (NCIS: Los Angeles), Dennis Quaid (Far from Heaven), Stephanie Szostak (The Devil Wears Prada), Patrick Warburton (Seinfeld), actor/comedian Kevin Nealon, comedian Tom Dreesen, former Major League Baseball and National Football League standout Bo Jackson, 2008 American League Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria, former NHL star Jeremy Roenick, former Green Bay Packers wide receiver and NFL analyst Sterling Sharpe and six-time Pro Bowl selection and "Dancing With the Stars" runner-up Jason Taylor. The celebrity field's schedule is as follows: Wednesday, January 20, SilverRock Resort; Thursday, January 21, La Quinta Country Club; Friday, January 22, Nicklaus Private at PGA West; Saturday, January 23, Arnold Palmer Private at PGA West.

Practice rounds for the 2010 Classic at all four courses will be conducted Monday, January and Tuesday, January 19. Tournament play begins Wednesday, January 20 and concludes Sunday, January 24 at the Palmer Private at PGA West. The five-day Classic features 128 top PGA Tour professionals and 384 amateur contestants, including 30 celebrities. All five days of the Classic will be televised on Golf Channel. At stake is a purse of $5 million, $900,000 to the winner.

In 50 years, the Classic has donated more than $47 million to charities throughout the Coachella Valley. For more information, go to www.bobhopeclassic.com or call 888/672-4673.