Winds whipped through Avista Stadium on Friday night, making the 55-degree temperature at first pitch feel a bit colder.
But the thrill of opening day for the Spokane Indians blocked out weather worries – at least partially – for many fans.
“It’s super windy, kind of chilly, but I think the excitement for now kind of overtakes the cold weather,” said Tony Hatcher, who sat behind home plate with his young son.
The Indians opened their season against the Vancouver Canadians. It was their first time playing in April since 1982, when the team was a member of the Pacific Coast League as a Triple-A affiliate of the then-California Angels. This year, the squad is a High-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies and scheduled to play 132 games, which would be their most games played in 40 years.
The early start to the season likely means fans will need to get used to wetter and colder games.
Temperatures dipped into the 40s at Friday night’s opener. An employee at the stadium said about 4,000 fans were expected to show up, but that perhaps fewer would attend because of the weather.
While the weather might be cold to start the season, fans said they are excited for the longer season and higher quality of play with the Indians in their second season of High-A ball.
Craig Schluter, who watched with his wife and two young children, noted the chilly weather but said he will enjoy watching the elevated competition.
“We enjoy baseball,” Schluter said. “We wanted to see the new prospects.”
Kevin Blatt, who sported the home team’s jersey and hat about six rows from the field, said it was cool to see the Indians and his favorite MLB team, Boston Red Sox, open the season on the same day. In previous years, Blatt, an Indians season ticketholder, and other fans would have to wait about two months to see the Indians play after MLB teams started.
“It’s definitely bizarre, but at the same time it’s awesome,” he said.
Avista Stadium holds a special place in Blatt’s heart. It’s not only the place Blatt, 42, came to cheer on the Indians the last few years, but it’s where he met his soon-to-be wife, Briana K’Burg. In fact, the pair will get married at home plate June 11 when the Indians are on the road playing the Eugene Emeralds.
The two met at the stadium early in Spokane’s 2019 season while Blatt was watching the game and K’Burg worked as a section leader. A friendship blossomed during the season at the stadium, and by the end of the year, they exchanged phone numbers.
They didn’t start dating until about a year after they met.
“We’re both huge baseball fans,” Blatt said of deciding to get married at Avista Stadium. “It was just the perfect place of where we met. It’s totally unique.”
The Indians resume their three-game home series against Vancouver at 5:09 p.m. Saturday and 1:05 p.m. Sunday.
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