Opening Day at Huntington Park
A crowd of over 11,000 gathered to welcome the Columbus Clippers to their new home at Huntington Park on Saturday. Many fans were lined up hours before the 4pm opening pitch in hopes of getting one of the 1,500 tickets that were held until game day. Even though the Clippers ultimately lost to the division leading Toledo Mudhens 3-1, the event itself was able to supersede the final score. With clips of AC/DC blasting between innings, fan contests galore a la Columbus Blue Jackets games, and “Whoop There It Is” punctuating strong plays by the Clippers, the atmosphere is enough to keep any fairweather fan amused long enough to make it to the 7th inning stretch.
So we’ve got stimulating audio. Check. All the beer and hot dogs you can handle. Check. And the guy that won’t shut up about anything yelling “jackoff!”, seemingly at both teams (see pictured to the right). Check, check, check. But what about the game? Turns out that the first pitch thrown in the new stadium was smashed into center field for a hit by the Mudhens’ leadoff batter Danny Worth. And then, three batters later, Worth scored the first run ever to cross home plate at Huntington Park on a two run double by Toledo’s Mike Hessmen. Whoops/Ouch/Doh!
But by the end of the second inning the Clippers managed to put up a run of their own on a sacrifice fly by Stepehen Head, scoring Matt LaPorta. Later in the game the Mudhens capitalized on a couple of Clippers’ errors which pushed the score to 3-1 and the Clippers were unable to recover, allowing the Toledo Mudhens to take a 2-1 lead in the four game series (the two teams split their first two games which were played in Toledo). The loss leaves the Clippers with a record of 4-6 and moves the Mudhens to 8-2.
Despite the opening day loss, Huntington Park was a great place to see a game and a Clippers ticket should remain a hot one; especially until the novelty of “new” fades. The stadium, owned by Franklin County, carries the logos of familiar sponsors like Columbus Gas, AEP, Mount Caramel, Nationwide, Huntington (obviously), Wendy’s, The Columbus Dispatch, ad nauseam…and these supporters are sure to make the Clippers inaugural season at Huntington Park as visible as any other sporting event in the city.