FRESNO, California. (KGPE) – It’s been a long time coming, but after more than 600 days, the Grizzlies took the field Tuesday for their home opener against the Visalia Rawhide, bringing back a simple joy for fans.
“Just finally getting to see baseball again,” Jerry Baptista said.
Team president Derek Franks said opening nights are always exciting, but after weathering a pandemic so long, this one is extra special.
“It’s hard to put into words how this feels because it’s been such a long time you know? And we always have the butterflies and the excitement that leads up to this moment. This is different,” Franks said.
Some fans like George Rocha have been season ticket holders since the beginning, more than two decades ago.
He is now sharing the game with another generation, his granddaughter.
“She’s gotten a whole bunch of autographs and stuff like that, taking pictures with the Grizzlies players. She loves it,” he said.
For others, the ballpark food is the big draw.
“I’m excited to have some churros!,” Kiki Rodriguez said.
COVID-19 precautions are in place, with capacity capped at 33% of the roughly 10,000 seats. Groups are seated together in pods, separated by other empty chairs.
Masks are also a requirement when not eating or drinking, and ticketing is being done electronically now. But while America’s past time may look more current this year, fans say some things have not changed.
“I love the atmosphere,” said a fan.
“Even with limited capacity and restrictions, we’re thrilled that our fans can’t wait to get back into Chukchansi ark and see some Grizzlies baseball,” Franks said.