From Six to Thirteen – Week 1 of Keys Season
Keyote and Frank Key with Mayor Randy McClement, Frederick City alderman and Phil Key
It is one week into Keys season and it has been a long start for the staff here at Harry Grove. Mother Nature has not been to fair, resulting in two rainouts. To add to that, the Potomac Nationals three-game series that was supposed to be played on the road is being played here because of unplayable field conditions in Potomac. With another homestand starting April 21st, the Potomac series connected the two April homestands resulting in a 13-game stretch here to start the season.
Despite the long hours and numerous tarp pulls, the 2011 season is starting off very well for the Advanced A Orioles club. Opening Night was “Save Your Keys” Night. It featured the unveiling of our new mascot, Frank Key (pictured above), along with ceremonial first pitches by the Frederick City Alderman, Mayor Randy McClement, Francis Scott Key decendent Phil Key and Carolina League President, John Hopkins. It was a successful turnout for the hometown team even though rain fell throughout the game. Opening Night also featured “Save Your Keys” videos, filmed at Camden Yards. Former Keys players such as Brian Matusz and Matt Wieters took time to tell Keys fans to contact local officials in the efforts to keep the Keys in Frederick. Those videos can be found on the Keys official YouTube page, here.
Being a new staff member with the Keys takes some getting used to once the season starts. Getting adjusted to the on-field games and other in-between inning promotions. This part is one of the biggest fan involved aspects of the game. A few staff members scout out perspective contestants that look like they would be okay on a camera and quite possibly making a fool out of themselves. Whether it is a trivia contest for adults or bouncing on inflatable sheep for kids, fans love getting involved when they win prizes. Free tickets, hats, storage, Burger King coupons are just a few of the prizes you can get for participating.
One of the new promotions this year is the Flying Dog Hot Dog Launch. It is exactly what it sounds like. Someone dresses up in a hot dog costume and launch hot dogs into the crowd. It was originally supposed to be a slingshot game but too many hot dogs exploded in the air from the velocity. I have had the pleasure of getting to show those in attendance my hot dog throwing arm and it is a blast! Fans love the goofy stuff and a hot dog guy throwing out ballpark franks is sure to become a classic.
Another game, featured in the 8th inning, is sponsored by Burger King. “King of the Game” is awarded to a lucky fan selected by a staff member dressed in a Burger King costume. The King sprints around the lower concourse trying to find the fan worth of the cardboard crown. Once selected, the fan gets a free sandwich, fries and drink to the local Burger King. It normally ends up being an adult that doesn’t expect it so getting it all on camera is usually pretty funny to see.
The Sheep Race is another classic when you come to the Grove. Three kids mount onto inflatable sheep and attempt to bounce their way down the first base grass to precious victory. A picture for your viewing pleasure…
The weather has not cooperated too well this first week but the Keys staff are well into season mode by now. This homestand has featured a lot of the occurrences that you do not normally see this early in the year. Following Friday’s fireworks, Keys staff members spent about an hour picking up firework debris before pulling tarp in preparation for Saturday’s storm. A day that started at 9am finally ended around 11:40.
The Keys are in town until this Sunday. They host Potomac in a double-header tomorrow beginning at noon and then welcome the Lynchburg Hillcats for the first time this year Thursday through Sunday. Thursday and Friday will be 7pm start times while Saturday and Sunday will be 2pm contests. Fireworks will be on display following Friday’s game. Also, the Keys 1st Annual Easter Egg Hunt will be at 12pm on Sunday. All Jr. Keys Club members are welcome to hunt for Easter eggs throughout the stadium. You must have a ticket to enter.
Come out and enjoy some great, family fun here at Harry Grove this week!
-Brandon Apter, Promotions Manager