For someone like me who doesn't live in a state with a Major League Baseball team, I really depend on the college and minor league teams in my area to provide me a place to watch the game I love, all summer long.
Unfortunately, with everything going on in our world right now, I'm left with nothing and don't have much hope that baseball will be played at a high level in my area any time.
I have been able to enjoy watching my nephew play in some Little League games, but it's hard to fathom that I'm about to go an entire year without watching my hometown Birmingham Barons.
What I've really been wondering all along is what the Barons staff is going to try and do at Regions Field to bring people to the ballpark and possibly make a little revenue.
"During these times, our staff continues to think about creative ways families, individuals, and groups can have memorable experiences and fun at Regions Field," says Birmingham Barons GM and team president Jonathan Nelson. "Obviously, these are unique and difficult times regarding adjusting to social distancing, the stress of the virus and not having the simple quality of life opportunities we have all enjoyed for years. Knowing the need for folks to get out and have fun in a safe venue, adjusting to all safety precautions, the Barons hope to fill that therapeutic entertainment need and also provide confidence knowing that our safety plan, adhering to all necessary adjustments, has been approved by the Jefferson County Health Department."
Along those lines, about two weeks before Father's Day I got an email from the Barons: "Celebrate Father's day at Regions Field!"
That was all I needed to see to be on board.
I've been looking for any excuse to get out to the stadium, and this was the perfect opportunity.
Not only that, but the most expensive package gave you the chance to take batting practice on the field. I immediately made the purchase and texted my wife to tell her that my Father's Day gift was already taken care of.
The full list of events for Father's Day included playing catch on the field, a Barons-branded baseball, food package, a Barons shirt or hat, and a private clubhouse tour.
Included in batting practice was the opportunity to pick a walk-up song and photo to show on the video board.
For anyone who has dreamed of walking up to the plate a professional park and swinging the bat, this was indeed a dream come true.
The day itself was pure joy, as I was able to run out on the field with my one-year-old son and my wife. My son just stood there and took it all in, watching all the dads play catch with their kids.
It was something out of a movie to see how many families were out there just playing catch.
And then came batting practice, a fulfillment of a life-long dream. I wasn't quite able to get one out — hey, we all know it's a pitcher's park — but I got a few good swings in, and a memory that will last a lifetime.
"We had a tremendous response for our Father’s Day event despite the numerous rain interruptions," Nelson says. "We received so much positive feedback, and ultimately the success of this event was based on reactions by families whether it be playing catch, batting practice, or simply having lunch a Regions Field."
I can certainly agree with Nelson, as everyone I saw at the ballpark was smiling ear-to-ear — even through the few rain delays we had.
This was a major success for the Barons staff, who came up with a great idea, and everything went according to plan.
Again, we may not have Barons baseball this year at Regions Field, but the staff is doing a great job of finding ways to bring people to the ballpark. And there are plans for more throughout the summer.
"Since 2013, Regions Field has been not only one of Birmingham's favorite entertainment destinations but has contributed to the overall revitalization of Birmingham," Nelson says. "People take pride that Regions Field is not only an incredible baseball park, but is part of an exciting era of a new Birmingham.
"Despite no Barons games thus far, our goal is to continue to satisfy that entertainment need, which is needed even more during these times, by hosting a variety of men’s league baseball games and movie nights. While the men’s league games will not provide the same caliber of play of Barons baseball, we aim to incorporate a lot of promotions, production, and overall fun into these games. We continue to hold out hope there will be some semblance of a Barons season; however, we hope to continue to add more events to provide even more fun."
In addition to the men's league games, the Barons will also have movie nights and fireworks.
I want to give a big thanks to the Barons staff, who created a create Father's Day for me and my family. I look forward to getting back out to the ballpark soon.