Play Ball – Hometown View
As one who has attended every one of the Lakewood BlueClaws twelve home openers I can tell you many of them were on nights more suited for football than baseball.
While last night wasn’t tropical it wasn’t bad either and when the home team scored six runs in the first inning it warmed the fans right up. Lakewood coasted to an 8-1 victory over the Hagerstown Suns and if you missed it don’t worry…there are 69 more home games to go.
Season twelve of the Phillies Class “A” team actually opened with a 7-game road trip but for many last night was the real beginning.
FirstEnergy Park was certainly ready and like they do every year the BlueClaws have added some twists to the park especially when it comes to food choices. Surf Taco & Charlie’s Pizza are now available in the right field food court which I’m sure will be popular choices for fans during the season.
Among those in attendance were co-owners Joe Finley and Joe Caruso, who are also co-owners of the Trenton Thunder. They talked with pride about the success of the BlueClaws, who this year will draw their 5 millionth fan to the ballpark faster than any team in New Jersey minor league baseball history. Finley said the support of the community and corporate sponsors has been the key to the success of the club as well as the management group headed up by General Manager Geoff Brown who has been with the team since year one.
What I always like about the home opener is just seeing so family familiar faces from ushers who welcome back loyal fans to those like Director of Community Relations Jim DeAngelis who spent the night on the concourse answering questions with a smile on his face…even the dumb questions.
WOBM is once again partnering with the BlueClaws and the OceanFirst Foundation for the fourth season of Home Runs for Heroes. The program features nine charities that support members of the military and their families. Each time a BlueClaws player hits a home run during a home game OceanFirst will donate $1000 to a designated charity and last night Foundation Executive Director Kathy Durante and bank president Vito Nardelli presented each charity with a $1000 to start.
Things got even better for Army Emergency Relief of Fort Dix when BlueClaws catcher Logan Moore homered in the 1st inning because that’s the designated inning for AER so they get another $1000. Going into this season the OceanFirst Foundation had donated $80,000 through this program.