COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Baseball season is here! The Columbus Clippers home opener is Thursday night, and there are several changes at Huntington Park.
The new field at Huntington Park has taken more than 6 months to complete and 2 years of design work, so it’s something that baseball fans will notice right away–along with a new video board. Crews have been individually cleaning each and every one of these seats because this park has to be perfect for tomorrow’s first pitch.
Joe Santry is a historian and works in communications for the Clippers.
“I had some of the greatest talks with my dad at a baseball game,” he said. “Baseball is the greatest game in the world for conversation. In between pitches you share a story and things. It’s just wonderful. Everybody loves it.”
Santry has been the Clippers historian for 31 years and says opening day never gets old.
“I get excited like I was 8 years old again.”
Santry says Columbus has had baseball since 1866. “The Clippers have been here since 1977 and the players that have come through here have just been amazing. I mean–Derek Jeter, all the great Yankees, now all the Indians that were in the World Series have played here two years before!”
So, what else is new? Some new culinary additions this year will appeal to vegetarians–such as a tofu wrap. Gluten free beer options are available throughout the concourse, as well as healthier food options for kids.
Head groundskeeper Wes Ganobcik was out going over some last-minute details, like painting all the lines and logos on the field one more time, and touching up some of the infield dirt and the warning track.
He’s excited about opening day and seeing players on this field, which he designed.
“The weather has just kind of put us behind this year,” he said. “It’s been a terrible year to have winter lag on so long but it’s much more groundskeeper-friendly and much more player friendly than our old field.”
And when it comes to weather, crews here couldn’t be more excited for the nice weather expected for Thursday’s home opener.
“It’s going to be 70. Thank Ben (Gelber) for me,” Santry said.
Ganobcik said the field will take weather better. And with the new drainage system, rain delays might not be as long.
New nets will be placed in the dugout to keep players safe, and crews added new pads.
For some other big things to look forward to, this year Columbus will host the All-Star game in July and the Triple A national championship game in September.
This is something Ken Schacke, president and general manager of Columbus Clippers, says he is very excited about.
“We’ll become the first city in the country to ever do both of these in the same year and no host city has ever been in the national championship game,” said Schacke, who has been involved in baseball for 40 years. “I’ve already told the Cleveland Indians that we need to load us up a little bit so we get ready for that.”
This is also the 10th anniversary of Huntington Park, so what a year to be able to host both those games.
Thursday’s first pitch is at 6:35pm.