The Ocean State Waves will play baseball this summer, and the crack of the bat at Old Mountain Field will be part of a return to normalcy in South County.
To that end, the Waves want to show their appreciation for the frontline workers that helped make the return possible. Healthcare workers, along with police, fire and EMS, can get a free family four pack of tickets to every game they attend this summer.
“There’s a sense of pride and community and family among the Waves and not playing last year, we lost that,” said president and general manager Eric Hirschbein-Bodnar said. “There’s that understanding that this could be taken away. If not for the hard work of the front line workers, we wouldn’t be able to get back on the field and come back as strong as we are.”
The Waves will open the season June 4 with a game in Bristol, Connecticut, the first of five straight road games to start. The home opener is Wednesday, June 9 at 6:30 p.m., at Old Mountain Field.
The season is expected to be relatively normal. Teams are playing 42 regular season games, with the only change being a switch to a divisional format. The Waves will play only against other teams in the NECBL Southern Division. The NECBL has mandated that all players be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Waves will play 6:30 games at Old Mountain Field, which will feature a new pro-style backstop replacing the chain link fencing of old. The slate includes five Saturday night games at home.
In planning for the return, Waves leadership had the community in mind, aiming to make summer nights at Old Mountain an opportunity to come together for the first time. The team expects to be at full capacity in terms of attendance, with no limits.
“It’s about using the Waves as a sense of healing and getting back out with your neighbors again,” Hirschbein-Bodnar. “Pack the beach chairs and come on down.”
The feelings of missing out on last summer – and the challenges of 2020 for the community – are still front and center. The Waves have always offered free tickets to military members and it was a no-brainer to extend the offer.
“If we can provide a couple of hours a night of entertainment to sit back and enjoy with what they’ve sacrificed in the pandemic, in the hospitals, in the front lines and then coming home and doing their jobs there, that’s what we want to do,” Hirschbein-Bodnar said. “If we can provide a couple of hours a night, let them relax and let their kids run around, that’s our goal all summer. Have a night on us.”
For the team, it signifies more than a ticket offer. Providing something special for the community will be part of the mission laid out for the players when they arrive in Wakefield.
“I’m really proud of the guys we have. They haven’t played one inning yet, but the sense of pride and working hard and communicating with each other in the off-season, they’re very aware of being part of something bigger than themselves here,” Hirschbein-Bodnar said. “That’s something that’s very important to our organization this summer. They understand what they represent and the task that’s in front of them. They’re passionate for the opportunity to play in front of our community.”