On a somewhat historic night at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood the BlueClaws began their 20th season of minor league baseball Tuesday and it was another sign that life is slowly getting back to what it used to be.  Re-branded as the Jersey Shore BlueClaws the team was welcomed by just under 2,000 fans who were rewarded with a 6-2 victory over Hudson Valley, the Yankees High-A affiliate.

Certainly, there have been many changes due to protocols issued by the state and Major League Baseball as fans are sprinkled throughout the ballpark due to social distancing and safety requirements.  Popular in-game promotions are limited to the concourse area as the field can only be used for baseball which is a far-cry from the way things used to be.

However, I spoke with many longtime fans and they were just happy to have baseball and the BlueClaws back.  They greeted other fans and game-day staff they had not seen in 614 days with hugs and smiles.  Some of the diehards have already made themselves familiar with the roster of young players and 21-year old catcher Logan O’Hoppe from West Islip, New York is sure to become a fan favorite after smacking the first home run in Jersey Shore history.

Of course, you are quickly reminded that we are still in a pandemic.  Masks have to be worn except when you are eating or drinking and seeing fans spread so far apart in places is a bit strange.  However most just seemed to be happy to watch baseball on a cool and crisp May evening and as one longtime fan said to me…”I have 60 dates circled on the calendar and am thankful to spend them with my BlueClaws family.”

The team is home for five more games through Sunday.  For ticket information visit www.blueclaws.com

LOOK: Jersey Shore BlueClaws Opening Night 2021