By Zach Solon | May 27, 2021 at 10:16 PM EDT – Updated May 28 at 7:20 AM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – After the 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wilmington Sharks baseball team welcomed a sold-out crowd to Buck Hardee field Thursday night for their season opener against the Morehead City Marlins.
“A lot of work went into it last year and we didn’t have anything to show, but tonight it’s a celebration,” said Tom Lamont, Community Relations Director for the Sharks. “A chance for Wilmington to feel like they’re getting back to some normalcy, summer baseball is back and we’re just excited.”
Among the Cape Fear natives in the crowd were longtime Sharks fans like James Howard, who has held season tickets since 1999 and once hosted a Sharks player who he still keeps in touch with.
“We missed it last year,” said Howard. “Big time.”
Tonight’s season opener served as an opportunity for fans to spend time with family and friends they have been apart from during the pandemic. The chance to bond over Sharks baseball is something some families have been missing for almost two years. The Wolford brothers had today’s date circled on their calendars for awhile.
“We missed last year obviously, but a priority was getting here for opening day and it shows,” said Phil Wolford, standing next to his brother Justin. “It’s pretty exciting, there’s a lot of people here so we’re happy to be here.”
The team’s “Thirsty Thursday” promotion also got fans buzzing to be at the park Thursday, with select beers sold for just one dollar.
“We’re gonna have a good year, it’s going to be fun — dollar beers don’t hurt either,” said Justin.
But after missing the fans and even the players last year, Lamont says they hope to give fans a reason to cheer and to keep coming back to the ballpark in 2021.
“Nobody wanted to go home, we put in a lot of work into getting the season ready and of course you know we’ve been shut down for over a year and now to have this opportunity tonight, I mean, it’s going to be emotional,” said Lamont.
The Sharks lost to Morehead City 6-3. Their next game is Friday on the road, where they face the Marlins for the second time in as many days. They will be back at Buck Hardee Field on June 3.
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