La Salle to eliminate baseball program
When members of the La Salle baseball family learned of the university's plans last week to terminate the program following the 2021 season, a group of dedicated alumni jumped into immediate action. 

"We need to do whatever we can here to save this program that's meant so much to me and so many other people," said James Santore, a 2016 graduate of the program and the ringleader now for the effort to preserve La Salle baseball. 

Santore, along with fellow La Salle alumn Joey Ravert and head coach David Miller, coordinated an online town hall meeting to develop some potential ideas to raise funds. According to multiple sources, the program needs to raise $9 million if it hopes to play beyond the 2021 season. 

Enter El Presidente, the founder of Barstool Sports, Dave Portnoy. 

"We need to pull out all the stops and do whatever we can," Miller said. "Whatever needs to be done, we have to do it." 

As it turns out, a former player participating in the town hall is friends with someone close to Portnoy. It also just happens that Barstool Sports has become closely connected to the Philadelphia-region thanks to a partnership with Penn National Gaming. 

"I keep hearing about La Salle baseball," Portnoy recently said on a live stream. "If La Salle gives me an answer on how I can save that baseball team, then I'll [expletive] save the baseball team." 

Santore jumped on Portnoy's invitation and reached out, and now it appears "El Pres" will be visiting La Salle's campus within the coming days to shoot a "One Bite" pizza review as a ploy to draw attention to La Salle's fundraising efforts. It's a huge get for a program that needs a lifeline, and it could potentially lead to something bigger between Portnoy and La Salle.

For the uninitiated, Portnoy has had a meteoric rise as the founder of Barstool Sports. What once started out as a newspaper on the streets of Boston has now turned into a media behemoth worth nearly $500 million. The blog has spun off dozens of popular podcasts and last month launched its own sportsbook in partnership with the Hollywood Casino. 

La Salle's baseball program dates back to 1947. The club reached the NCAA tournament twice (1964 and 1985) and has three former players that have reached the majors with the most recent being right-hander Tom Filer who spent parts of six seasons in the bigs between 1982 and 1992. 

The program has turned a corner in recent years under Miller, bringing in three nationally recognized recruiting classes while also touting a recent signee with the Phillies in reliever Connor Hinchliffe. 

"I want this program to be a regional power," Miller said prior to the COVID-shortened 2020 season. "There's no reason we can't build something that becomes the best in the region, and that's what I'm after." 

For now, at least, it appears the journey to keeping baseball at La Salle begins with a simple slice of pizza. 

If you are interested in donating in an effort to save La Salle baseball, click here and participate in their GoFundMe campaign. To stay up to date on the efforts to save the program, click here and sign up for the Save La Salle Baseball mailing list.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

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