Traverse City Pit Spitters Host Virtual Opening Day
TRAVERSE CITY – With the start of the 2020 Northwoods League season delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Traverse City Pit Spitters hosted a virtual opening day on Thursday.
The day of fun began at 11 a.m. as fans of the defending Northwoods League champions stopped by Turtle Creek Stadium to purchase a proper stadium hot dog, chips, a cookie and a soft drink for $7.
“I think the community would have responded very well to actually having baseball this year, especially coming off the championship year. But we’re trying to make lemonade,” Pit Spitters general manager Mickey Graham said. We’re going to have some fun. We’re doing a drive-thru lunch. People can come get a proper stadium hot dog, mustard, chips.”
“It’s exciting,” added Pit Spitters manager Josh Rebandt. “Obviously we wish we could be inside the stadium and have things look a little different this year. But right now, we want to stay connected with the community obviously and our front office has done a real nice job with that.”
Thursday afternoon’s portion of the celebration also served a good cause.
For an additional $5, fans could purchase a lunch for hospital staff at Munson Medical that will be delivered by the Pit Spitters during the week of June 1.
“It’s these front line workers, the people at Munson and Meijer that really are doing the work to keep us moving. Keep society going,” Graham said. “We just wanted to do something also to help those folks. Give them some recognition. So, we’re going to put together a couple hundred lunches. Take them down next week and we’ll have a party.”
Fans can tune into the Pit Spitters Facebook page at 7 p.m. for the virtual opening day ceremony. Fans will enjoy a virtual ring ceremony with members of the 2019 team, highlights from the 2019 season, a shortened version of the 2019 Northwoods League championship game, video messages from staff, a virtual fireworks display and a postgame concert by the TC Knuckleheads.
While baseball is still on hold in Michigan and throughout much of the country, three teams in Bismarck, North Dakota will begin Northwoods League play at a regional level on June 15. The Bismarck Larks, Bismarck Bull Moose and Bismarck Flickertails will all play a 72-game schedule out of Bismarck Municipal Stadium. The Flickertails roster is comprised of players from the Thunder Bay Border Cats while the Bull Moose roster is comprised of players who committed to other summer collegiate leagues that have shut down for the year.
“We have hope. That’s the best way of putting it,” Graham said. “We’re optimistic that we’re still going to get some resemblance of a season in starting at the start of July and going into August maybe.”
“It’s exciting knowing that people are starting to play. It raises your optimism even more,” Rebandt added. “We don’t know when our start date will be yet but I think there’s optimism that it will take place.”