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New sponsor, big name for this year's San Juan Island Celebrity Golf Classic

Randy Johnson, The Big Unit, at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Sept. 25, 2009. The retired Mariners and Giants  pitcher may be the headline celebrity this year. He and event chairman Pat O
Randy Johnson, The Big Unit, at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Sept. 25, 2009. The retired Mariners and Giants pitcher may be the headline celebrity this year. He and event chairman Pat O'Day have been working out the fine details. On April 21, O'Day would only say, 'We are anticipating the participation of the Big Unit.'
— image credit: Courtesy Bryce Edwards

It's early in the game, but the San Juan Island Celebrity Golf Classic has already hit two home runs. Or carded two eagles. The baseball metaphor may be more apropos. You'll see why in paragraph 4.

Islanders Bank is the new corporate sponsor, succeeding Wells Fargo Bank. And the names of winners of this year's tournament will be engraved on the new Islanders Bank John Linde Trophy, which will be permanently displayed at the bank's Friday Harbor branch.

The trophy honors the late Superior Court judge, an avid golfer who played in the annual classic and served on the San Juan Golf and Country Club board. "He was a pivotal part of our community for so long. His significance is beyond question," Classic Chairman Pat O'Day said.

Now, the grand slam: Retired Mariners pitcher Randy Johnson, the Big Unit, may be the headline celebrity this year. He and O'Day have been working out the fine details. On April 21, O'Day would only say, "We are anticipating the participation of the Big Unit."

Johnson will arguably be the most famous headliner since seven-time All-Star Mariner Edgar Martinez (309 career home runs) in 2005.

Johnson is one of 18 pitchers in Major League Baseball history to pitch a perfect game (May 18, 2004 for Arizona vs. Atlanta). He was a 10-time All-Star, a five-time Cy Young Award winner, and World Series MVP in 2001 (with Arizona). He pitched for Seattle from 1989-1998.

Other celebrities lined up so far:

— Jeff "The Fish" Aaron, former KRKO radio host.

— Pat Cashman, comedian and TV and radio personality.

— Chris Chandler, retired Atlanta Falcons quarterback and two-time Pro Bowl selection.

— Cam Cleeland, retired St. Louis Rams tight end.

— Delilah, author and radio show host with more than eight million people on more than 200 radio stations in the U.S. and Canada.

— Nancy Fiala, glass artist.

— Dave Grosby, sports-radio host on 710 ESPN.

— Mike Gastineau, sports-radio host on 950 KJR.

— Ryan Leaf, retired NFL quarterback (Seahawks, 2002) and West Texas A&M coach.

— Jim Moore, sports columnist for SeattlePI.com.

— Lisa Moretti, retired professional wrestler and three-time WWF women's champion.

— Ron and Don, of the Ron & Don Show on News Talk 97.3 KIRO-FM.

— Steve Raible, Channel 7 news anchor and voice of the Seahawks.

— Bob Rivers, host of The Bob Rivers Show on Seattle rock station KZOK-FM.

— Sonny Sixkiller, retired quarterback for the Washington Redskins and NCAA passing leader while at UW from 1970-72.

— Spike, of Spike & the Impalers.

Let's see, anyone else ... Oh, that's right, three Seattle SeaGals will be there. How did we forget?

This year's classic begins June 4 with the horse race and the meet-the-celebrities party at Haley's, sponsored by CenturyLink. The 18-hole celebrity classic is June 5, followed by the big salmon barbecue, live and silent auctions, and entertainment by the Friday Harbor High School Band.

Last year's classic netted about $20,000 for 13 island non-profits. The classic's best year netted $40,000. O'Day said the fund-raising goal of this year's classic — the 24th annual — is $30,000.

To golf in the classic, sign up at San Juan Golf and Country Club or on www.SJCelebGolf.com. Salmon dinner tickets are available from the event's 11 beneficiaries and from Becki Day, 378-9519.

O'Day said Islanders Bank's sponsorship will bolster the event; title sponsors underwrite a large chunk of the cost. "They have the first right to title sponsorship for five years," O'Day said. "They are totally committed to the community. This new marriage with Islanders Bank is the head of the story. It's so meaningful that they want to do it long term."

O'Day said Islanders will introduce their new slogan at the classic: "The buck stays here."

You can follow updates, including list of beneficiaries, hole sponsors and player testimonials, on www.SJCelebGolf.com.

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