It seems like forever since the RailRiders played a game at PNC Field. That’s because it has been a very long time.
But the team finally returns to PNC Field for the first time since August — after spending the first week of the season on the road — as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre hosts the Syracuse Chiefs tonight.
It looks like Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is bringing nice weather to the area as well. For the first time in 2014, the weather in Northeast Pennsylvania is spring-like. Many would even say that it’s perfect baseball weather.
That means there shouldn’t be any excuses to not get to the ballpark tonight for the 7:05 first pitch as the 25th anniversary season kicks off its home slate. For the anniversary, the RailRiders will honor those who are season ticket holders since the franchise’s inception in 1989 during pregame festivities, which are sure to offer a few surprises as well.
While inside the stadium, you will see plenty of new attractions on the concourse and many new faces on the field.
Beginning with the new games, young ones will most likely enjoy the RibbitRiders frog bog game and the Porcupine Putt Putt. You can find RibbitRiders near the left field gate, while the mini golf game is set up by the Family Fun Zone.
If these games aren’t for you, then some of the new menu items are sure to hit the spot. Highlighting the new food items is the Champ Dog — a jumbo hot dog topped with pulled pork, barbecue sauce, slaw and a pickle spear.
Also new to to the ballpark eats this season are funnel cake fries, buffalo chips, cheesesteak fries, quesadillas, sliders, smoked turkey legs, mini churros, super ropes, giant cookies, and Crazy Cow ice cream and novelties.
When all settled in, you will notice 10 new faces donning a RailRiders home uniform for the first time, including Hazleton native Russ Canzler at first base or designated hitter. Carmen Angelini, Scott Sizemore and Zelous Wheeler join Canzler in the team’s revamped infield, while Ramon Flores and Antoan Richardson are new pieces to the outfield.
Getting the start on the mound for SWB will be familiar face Graham Stoneburner. Last year, the right-hander went 4-6 with a 4.57 ERA in 16 games, 14 of them starts for the RailRiders. Stoneburner (0-0, 0.00) has one appearance this season as he pitched three innings in relief in the first game of a doubleheader against Syracuse on Sunday and is going on three days’ rest. In that outing, he allowed three hits and one unearned run.
Ryan Tatusko (0-0, 0.00) gets the nod for the Chiefs and will face the RailRiders for the second time this season. A righty, he started against the RailRiders on Sunday and is also on short rest. He also only went three innings in the second game of the doubleheader, but the only baserunner he allowed was a walk.
And it wouldn’t be a RailRiders Opening Day without fireworks, which will erupt after the final out is recorded. While exiting the stadium, fans will receive a RailRiders yard sign. There’s also a theme to the night, which is New Year’s Eve. That’s why all front office members will be dressed in tuxedos as the new baseball year is rung in.
As demonstrated many times in the past, the RailRiders know how to throw a party, and this season-opening bash should be as good as the previous.
Now, if the team can just continue to change the digit in the win column, the second season of RailRiders baseball will be a big party as well.