PNC Park isn't the only venue in the region in which fans of professional baseball can hear the words "Play ball" this summer.
The Washington Wild Things will open the 2013 Frontier League season on May 24 against the Southern Illinois Miners at the 3,200-seat Consol Energy Park. A fireworks display will follow.
But the highlight of the season will come July 15-18, when the Wild Things host the Frontier League All-Star Game and related festivities.
"We consider it an honor to be selected to host the event," team owner Stuart Williams said.
The All-Star events begin on July 16 with the annual home run derby.
The Akron Racers Women's Professional softball team will have a tie-in with the All-Star festivities. The Racers will offer clinics for girls on July 16. After the home run derby, the Racers will play a team of All-Stars in softball.
The Frontier League All-Stars are selected by the coaching staffs and general managers of each team as well as media covering the games, according Christine Blaine, the Wild Things' director of marketing,
Tickets for the home run derby and the All-Star game, as well as Wild Things home games, go on sale starting April 13. Tickets can be purchased by calling 724-250-9555 or 866-456-9453 or by going online at washingtonwildthings.com.
"Last year, we had a dismal start," said Mr. Williams, whose team finished in sixth place in the seven-team Eastern Division of the Frontier League with a 44-52 record. "This year we're starting with a solid core of players from last year and have built on that over the winter."
One of the key returning players from last season is center fielder Darian Sandford, who set a new Frontier League season record for stolen bases with 71. However, Mr. Williams said that even he has to compete for the position this year.
Also, top pitcher Gary Lee will return.
Brett Zeller will lead the Wild Things as manager this season after the resignation of Chris Bando, who quit because of health reasons.
Special promotions at the park this season include Win-Win Nights each Wednesday, when every fan will get a free ticket to any remaining Monday or Tuesday game if the Wild Things win. On Thursdays, all domestic draft beers and sodas are $1, and every Friday home game will end with a fireworks display.
On Sunday night games, which begin at 5:05 p.m., youngsters will get to run the bases. Any child who joins the Kids Club, which is free, gets free entry to the Sunday home games as well as a newsletter throughout the summer.
"For our kids area, we're also adding new games and inflatables," Ms. Blaine said. "We're also working on new menu items, including a significant variety of beer selections."
Those interested in trying out to play for the Wild Things are encouraged to go to the ballpark on April 27. Players can pre-register for tryouts online at washingtonwildthings.com. Applicants may not have turned 27 or older prior to Jan. 1 of this year.neigh_south - neigh_washington
Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.