By Rich Palzewic
ASHWAUBENON – For the first time since March 12, I was able to take in a live game.
The Green Bay Booyah baseball team opened its season July 1 at Capital Credit Union Park in Ashwaubenon, and what a joy it was to be there.
About 1,000 fans socially distanced themselves in the Booyah’s 10-5 loss to Wisconsin Rapids.
“It was great to play – everybody has given a lot to make this happen,” said second-year Booyah manager Tom Carty after the game. “We are all aware of the risk, but we are trying to move forward. It was nice to see the fans in the stands.”
Green Bay watched a late lead slip away, but I don’t think most fans cared – they were simply happy to be there.
Former Bullfrogs’ manager Kirk Shrider – now an assistant coach with Rapids and a California native – said to me before the game, “I’m just happy to be doing anything.”
The energy was high among the fans and the players, and it looked like everything went smoothly.
Some fans wore masks, others did not.
The Booyah organization highly recommends fans wear masks but don’t require it.
I saw numerous fans put their masks on when they got up from their seats to get food or go to the bathroom.
John Fanta, vice president of the Booyah, chatted with me about the opening weekend and said he was happy with how things went.
“We got lots of positive feedback, and people had a good time,” he said. “People felt comfortable in the stadium, and I’d like to thank the fans who came out for being responsible and following the social-distancing guidelines. When we opened the field up for the band and fireworks both Friday and Saturday night after the game, fans spread out and acted responsibly.”
Fanta said he’s not sure if the positive start will lead to more fans in the stands in the future.
“With how people commented and how comfortable they were, we don’t want to push the limits of adding more fans for now,” he said. “At this point, we will stick to the guidelines we set forth before the season and stay consistent.”
I was curious before the season started to see how the players would interact with one another on the field and in the dugout.
The Northwoods League highly recommends players don’t fist-bump, high-five or hug other players.
Maybe the celebrations were a bit toned down from what I’m used to seeing, but overall, it looked fairly normal.
There were no handshakes between the teams after the game.
All in all, I think it was a good start, and I can’t wait to take in more Booyah action this summer.
A big thanks goes out to the organization for getting back to live action safely and responsibly.