They are as much a part of summer at the Jersey Shore as beaches, boardwalks, barbecues and bennies and part of a lifestyle that includes Six Flags, Monmouth Park, the Stone Pony, LBI and Jenkinson’s.

The BlueClaws begin their 16th season in Lakewood tonight and open their 70-game home schedule at FirstEnergy Park against the Greensboro Grasshoppers with first pitch scheduled for 6:35pm.

Unlike many cold and damp openers in the past game time temperatures in the mid 50’s with light winds and zero percent chance of precipitation should bring out a nice crowd as the Phillies Class A affiliate begins a 7-game homestand.  The BlueClaws should also get a boost from the fact that schools are on spring break.

As always fans will find some new offerings in the stadium including expanded food choices, new food trucks, a new Dugout Bar along the third base concourse and a bungee trampoline in the Kids Zone. Popular features like Thirsty Thursday and Friday Fireworks Shows are back and there is the addition of the TD Bank Summer Concert series for eight Saturday home games beginning in late May.

As for the product on the field, the BlueClaws went 4-3 on a season-opening road trip and the roster includes two of the top five prospects in the organization in 18-year old outfielder Mickey Moniak, the first overall pick in last June’s MLB Draft and 18-year old right-handed pitcher Sixto Sanchez, a native of the Dominican Republic.

Marty Malloy joins the Phillies organization after three years with the Astros and will serve as manager, the 12th in BlueClaws history.

The BlueClaws have won three South Atlantic League titles and after a slow start last year got all the way to the championship series before falling to the Rome Braves in four games.  While winning is nice for most fans a good night at the ballpark includes hots dogs, ice cream and if you’re going on a Thursday night (like tonight) dollar beer and soda plus 50 cent wings.

By the way the Shore Sports Network is the longtime radio home of the BlueClaws with all 140 games heard on 1160 and 1310AM and streamed live as well at