Johnson City Cardinals Assistant General Manager Andrew Sims talks about the preparation for the first game of the season. (Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press)
The Boys of Summer are back for another exciting season of baseball and the Johnson City Cardinals not only hope for wins this year, but a fun environment for their fans.
Finishing a three-game series against the Kingsport Mets tonight, the Cards will play their home opener against the Danville Braves Sunday at 6 p.m.
Andrew Sims, the Cardinals assistant general manager, said a lot of preparation has gone into making this baseball season the best yet.
Sims said Cardinals staff members have been working with the city of Johnson City on improvements to the stadium, which have included new turf, as well as expansion of the concourse area.
“The biggest project that everyone’s kind of seen just from the street is the concourse area. They expanded our concourse area, they upgraded it,” he said. “It has a great feel to it and we think it makes the park more aesthetically pleasing. We’re just excited about getting fans out here to really see it.”
As Cardinal players came together last week, with some of the players in the spring training complex in Florida with St. Louis and others who were coming out of the draft, Sims said everyone is excited about baseball returning to the stadium, as well the fun fan features that will complement the game.
“We’re actually giving away some rally towels to the first 500 fans coming in on Sunday, so make sure you come in early,” he said. “It’s presented by the National Guard, so they’re going to be out there. Everything will be open. The concession stand will be up and running, the merchandise booth will be ready to go, the (batting tee) inflatable will be up for the kids. Franklin Woods (Community Hospital) and Mountain State Health Alliance are going to come out. All of their employees are going to get in for free that night, so we’re anticipating a really great crowd and we think that it’ll be a good environment for a home opener.”
Sims said throughout the season there will be a variety of giveaways, including T-shirt giveaways on Tuesday nights from several different sponsors.
“We’ve got some new merchandise available. Of course, we still have some of the old favorites, like the logo baseballs you can get signed by the players. That’s kind of the beauty of this type of environment is that the players are so close and they don’t have a problem signing a baseball for you,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of teams in the area. That kind of speaks to the love that people have for baseball in this area, that they’re able to have this many teams and really sustain them. We’re just so excited to get the season started and hope that the fans will come out and support us again this year.”
According to the Johnson City Cardinals website, Sunday night’s opener is presented by Cumulus Broadcasting and Franklin Woods Community Hospital.
Wednesday through Friday next week the Cards face off against the Bristol White Sox.
According to the website, Wednesday is Faith and Family Night, which is presented by WCQR. The Christian contemporary-rock band Citizen Way will perform a pre-game concert starting at 6 p.m. Cost of the concert is $1 and will include a ticket to the 7:20 p.m. game.
The Cardinals will also be playing at East Tennessee State University’s Thomas Stadium for two games this season, one on June 28 against the Bristol White Sox and another on July 26 against the Elizabethton Twins, according to the site.
For more information on the Cardinal’s game schedule and ticket prices, visit jccardinals.com.