Toledo Mud Hens pitcher Fu-Te Ni fires in the first pitch to Detroit Tigers player Austin Jackson during an exhibition game at Fifth Third Field, Wednesday
Could it be?
Opening day is here already?
Indeed it is, and after an unseasonably warm winter, it feels like downtown Toledo's unofficial holiday snuck up on us, blowing in on a cool breeze to kick spring into high gear when the Mud Hens take the field Friday afternoon.
Since the Hens moved to Fifth Third Field in 2002, the first game of the season has taken on the feel of a must-see sporting event that is as much about socializing and hanging out as it is about baseball. Which is OK because there will be plenty of opportunities from now until September to watch the Hens with a more analytical baseball eye.
With that in mind, here is a grab-bag of information regarding the big day:
● Believe it or not, as of Wednesday, Friday's game still wasn't quite sold out. A few standing room only tickets remained and about 100 tickets to the Opening Day Bash were available. The Bash starts at 3 p.m. at the home run terrace area and tickets are $30, which includes food, entertainment, and a ticket to the game. For tickets go to mudhens.com or call 419-725-4367.
"I think a lot of people don't care where they're going to be sitting, they just want to be here," said Jason Griffin, the Mud Hens' director of public relations. "It's just a big party and we're looking forward to it."
● Before you go, print out a copy of the The Blade's pocket guide to the Mud Hens. It's informative, fun, and as the name suggests, you can carry it in your pocket. It'll be your best friend all season long and you can find it here: toledoblade.com/mudhens/.
● Be on the look out for all kinds new dining and drinking options around the ball park. Among the new places are 151 on the Water, 151 Water St.; The Bar, 513 Jefferson Ave.; Slap Shots, 319 N. Superior St.; Ye Olde Durty Bird, 2 S. St. Clair St.; Ye Olde Cock n' Bull Tavern, 9 N. Huron St.; and Our Brothers Place, 223 N. Huron St.
They join Fricker's, The Blarney, Pizza Papalis, Packo's at the Park, Ice, and other downtown restaurants and bars popular with baseball fans and everyone else. Expect overflowing crowds of revelers, so arrive early.
● The weather looks to be dry -- hurray! -- but a bit chilly -- boo! -- with temperatures only creeping up into the mid-50s, so warm weather gear will be a good idea. Bundle up and you'll be fine.
● Game time is 5 p.m. and the action kicks off a seven-game homestand that includes games at 6 p.m. Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday, and at 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday next week.
Contact Rod Lockwood at email@example.com or 419-724-6159.