A native of Southwest Virginia, Wagner was a relief pitcher for the Houston Astros (1995–2003), the Philadelphia Phillies (2004–2005), the New York Mets (2006–2009), the Boston Red Sox (2009), and the Atlanta Braves (2010) before retiring from baseball in 2011. Wagner was inducted in 2012 into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. He is a seven-time Major League Baseball All-Star and one of the few Major League relief pitchers to accumulate more than 400 saves in his baseball career.
He holds the record for most career strikeouts ever by a left-hand reliever with 1,196. Nicknamed “Billy the Kid,” Wagner was a natural-born right-hander but after breaking his right arm as a child, he became a leftie by practicing against the wall of a barn and fielding the rebounds. Wagner was a standout player at Tazewell High School in Tazewell, Va. and attended Ferrum College, in Ferrum, Va. where he set single-season NCAA records for strikeouts and fewest hits allowed.
He played minor league baseball as a starting pitcher and was picked in the first round draft in June 1993 by the Houston Astros. He had his Major League debut with the Astros in the 1995 season.
“We look forward to welcoming Billy to Bristol and Virginia Intermont College,” said VI Executive Director of Athletics Christopher Holt, who was a teammate of Wagner at Ferrum College. “He is an inspiring person on so many different levels. We are thrilled and honored to have him share with us on this special evening.”
The “Raise the Roof” benefit dinner begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m., in the Smith-Canter Gymnasium, the “Cobra Den,” at VI. Tickets are $100. Reservations must be made by Feb. 12. To make reservations, call director of special campaigns Lisa Mitchell at (276) 466-7887 or register online at www.vic.edu/benefit. “Raise the Roof” is a $325,000 capital improvement campaign to benefit the college community with upgrades and lasting improvements to the gym.
For more information, visit http://vic.edu/give/raise-the-roof/.