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PLAY BALL!

PULASKI – This past December, a bit of summer broke through the cold winter air. On that day, a one-year hiatus ended. On that day, a year-and-a-half long search ended. On that day, professional baseball came back to Calfee Park.
It was on that day, December 21, that Appalachian League President Lee Landers welcomed the Seattle Mariners to Pulaski.
“It’s a great day. It’s a Red Letter Day here in Pulaski,” said Landers.
“We welcome Pulaski back into the Appalachian League Family. We appreciate (President of Pulaski Baseball, Inc.) Tom Compton’s efforts and his hard work. We welcome the Seattle Mariners into the Appalachian League. It has been a long time since the league has had a West Coast affiliate,” said Landers.
“We’re excited to have a team back in Pulaski, which has a long and storied history in Minor League Baseball,” said Compton.
That long and storied history dates back to 1942, when the Pulaski Counts first took the field at Calfee Park.
Despite four league titles and Pulaski’s longtime affiliation with Minor League Baseball, Pulaski has had to search for an affiliate three times since the Atlanta Braves organization severed ties with Pulaski following the 1992 season.
A late 2006 pullout by the Toronto Blue Jays organization sank any hopes of Pulaski fielding a Minor League team for the 2007 season.
Both Landers and Compton said that Tim Purpura, Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of Minor League Baseball, was very instrumental in helping sell Pulaski to the Mariners.
“We can’t say enough good things about what Tim did for us,” said Compton.
“He knows all about Pulaski first-hand. He worked in the front office of the Houston Astros before he was named Chief Operating Officer of Minor League Baseball. Seattle has had numerous conversation with Tim so they (Seattle) could get a perspective other than the league president or local owners,” Landers said.
“Pulaski is a great baseball community,” said Pulaski Town Manager John Hawley. “When you can put 800 or more people into Calfee Park on 34 different nights during the summer months, it shows that Pulaski has taken another progressive step forward.”
Flash-forward to today, with the summer heat already beating down on the residents of Pulaski County, that cold and rainy December day seems like a lifetime ago. But to Pulaski Baseball, Inc. Director of Marketing and Baseball Operations Marty Gordon, December 21 seems like just yesterday.
“We were going 70 miles-per-hour to start off and haven’t slowed since,” Gordon said, referring to the Pulaski Mariners front office work since December.
“Along the trip, the business support from the area has been great, as have the ticket sales,” Gordon continued.
Speaking of ticket sales, a year without professional baseball combined with a lackluster economy has done nothing to hinder the excitement area residents have for the upcoming baseball season.
“The phone has been ringing constantly,” Gordon says. “The response has been overwhelming, and it says a whole lot for this area. We have also gotten a great response from outside areas like Giles, Wythe, and Carroll Counties,” he continued.
When asked why he felt the response has been so great, Gordon felt it came down to simple family economics.
“We offer something for the summer that’s affordable for families,” Gordon explained. “And we provide good summer entertainment.”
When asked about his attendance goals for the upcoming season, Gordon was not hesitant to aim high.
“(In the past) attendance for a season ranged from 18,000 to 26,000 people. Our goal for 2008 is 30,000 to 36,000 people. We feel the interest is there. Opening night is already close to capacity,” Gordon said. “We are excited about the season. We are pumped and the community is pumped.”
As the last few players trickled into town – some arriving as late as 11 p.m. Thursday night – the Pulaski Mariners will definitely have an international flair going in to this season. While the final roster is not yet set, thus far the Seattle Mariners have assigned a vast amount of players from around the globe. The roster currently resembles a soccer club more than a baseball team, as it includes players from Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.
The Mariners’ roster will consist primarily of players assigned from the Arizona Fall League, which will add a level of experience that most Rookie League teams sorely lack. A few of the players, however, will be college players and high school players that were chosen in the MLB First-Year Player’s Draft, which took place approximately two weeks ago.
In order to maximize the attendance to their season opener, the Princeton Rays have announced that the first game in Pulaski Mariners history, June 17 at Princeton, has free admission courtesy of First Community Bank.
Game time is 7 p.m. at Hunnicutt Field with the gates opening at 6 p.m.
Baseball will officially return to Pulaski on Friday, June 20, as the Mariners will take the field at Calfee Park for the first time in history to take on the Elizabethton Twins. Saturday night will be Little League Night at the Park as all Little League players in uniform get free admission when accompanied by a coach.
NASCAR night, sponsored by Nationwide Insurance, complete with racecars and giveaways, will be held June 22.
Civic Club Night is set for July 1, while July 2 will be Crime Prevention Night with the Pulaski Town Police Department.
Armed Forces Night is slated for July 5 with all current and former military personnel in uniform receiving $1 off general admission.
On July 6, the Mariners will celebrate the team mascot’s birthday with a baseball card show at the park.
Big Brothers and Big Sisters Night is July 12; Pulaski Community Hospital Night, July 24; New River Community College Night, July 25; and YMCA Night on July 27.
Community nights will provide discounts to residents from surrounding counties. Floyd County Night kicks things off on June 21 with $1 off admission to residents with proof of residence. Other community nights include: Craig County, June 30; Bland and Wythe, July 1; Carroll and Hillsville, July 2; Giles, July 3; Montgomery and Radford, July 11; and a special July 6 invite to our neighbors across the border in West Virginia.
One of the biggest events is called “Stitch-n-Pitch,” which brings together two timeless traditions – baseball and the Needle Arts. Come to a ball game and knit, crochet, embroider, cross-stitch or needlepoint. The Stitch N’ Pitch program had its unofficial start in 2005, when retail needle arts stores in Seattle began a program at Mariners games. The national association facilitated the expansion two years ago, with 15 major league teams involved. This season almost every Major League team will participate with over half a dozen minor league teams, including Pulaski, joining the mix.
Other events include: Hokie Nation Night on July 28; Back-to-School Night on August 7; Fan Appreciation Night on August 22, and Chamber of Commerce night on July 26. The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department will also highlight its DARE program on August 7.
College students will receive a discount at Saturday night games, and Sundays include a $1 off admission with a church bulletin. Sundays will also include a trivia contest entitled “RU Smarter than a 4th Grader.”
The team will also host a governmental night on August 5, and Special Olympics Night on August 12.
General admission tickets are $4 and reserve seats are $6. Books of tickets are on sale by contacting the team office at (540) 980-1070.
For more information, check out www.pulaskimariners.net.

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PLAY BALL!

PULASKI – This past December, a bit of summer broke through the cold winter air. On that day, a one-year hiatus ended. On that day, a year-and-a-half long search ended. On that day, professional baseball came back to Calfee Park.
It was on that day, December 21, that Appalachian League President Lee Landers welcomed the Seattle Mariners to Pulaski.
“It’s a great day. It’s a Red Letter Day here in Pulaski,” said Landers.
“We welcome Pulaski back into the Appalachian League Family. We appreciate (President of Pulaski Baseball, Inc.) Tom Compton’s efforts and his hard work. We welcome the Seattle Mariners into the Appalachian League. It has been a long time since the league has had a West Coast affiliate,” said Landers.
“We’re excited to have a team back in Pulaski, which has a long and storied history in Minor League Baseball,” said Compton.
That long and storied history dates back to 1942, when the Pulaski Counts first took the field at Calfee Park.
Despite four league titles and Pulaski’s longtime affiliation with Minor League Baseball, Pulaski has had to search for an affiliate three times since the Atlanta Braves organization severed ties with Pulaski following the 1992 season.
A late 2006 pullout by the Toronto Blue Jays organization sank any hopes of Pulaski fielding a Minor League team for the 2007 season.
Both Landers and Compton said that Tim Purpura, Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of Minor League Baseball, was very instrumental in helping sell Pulaski to the Mariners.
“We can’t say enough good things about what Tim did for us,” said Compton.
“He knows all about Pulaski first-hand. He worked in the front office of the Houston Astros before he was named Chief Operating Officer of Minor League Baseball. Seattle has had numerous conversation with Tim so they (Seattle) could get a perspective other than the league president or local owners,” Landers said.
“Pulaski is a great baseball community,” said Pulaski Town Manager John Hawley. “When you can put 800 or more people into Calfee Park on 34 different nights during the summer months, it shows that Pulaski has taken another progressive step forward.”
Flash-forward to today, with the summer heat already beating down on the residents of Pulaski County, that cold and rainy December day seems like a lifetime ago. But to Pulaski Baseball, Inc. Director of Marketing and Baseball Operations Marty Gordon, December 21 seems like just yesterday.
“We were going 70 miles-per-hour to start off and haven’t slowed since,” Gordon said, referring to the Pulaski Mariners front office work since December.
“Along the trip, the business support from the area has been great, as have the ticket sales,” Gordon continued.
Speaking of ticket sales, a year without professional baseball combined with a lackluster economy has done nothing to hinder the excitement area residents have for the upcoming baseball season.
“The phone has been ringing constantly,” Gordon says. “The response has been overwhelming, and it says a whole lot for this area. We have also gotten a great response from outside areas like Giles, Wythe, and Carroll Counties,” he continued.
When asked why he felt the response has been so great, Gordon felt it came down to simple family economics.
“We offer something for the summer that’s affordable for families,” Gordon explained. “And we provide good summer entertainment.”
When asked about his attendance goals for the upcoming season, Gordon was not hesitant to aim high.
“(In the past) attendance for a season ranged from 18,000 to 26,000 people. Our goal for 2008 is 30,000 to 36,000 people. We feel the interest is there. Opening night is already close to capacity,” Gordon said. “We are excited about the season. We are pumped and the community is pumped.”
As the last few players trickled into town – some arriving as late as 11 p.m. Thursday night – the Pulaski Mariners will definitely have an international flair going in to this season. While the final roster is not yet set, thus far the Seattle Mariners have assigned a vast amount of players from around the globe. The roster currently resembles a soccer club more than a baseball team, as it includes players from Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.
The Mariners’ roster will consist primarily of players assigned from the Arizona Fall League, which will add a level of experience that most Rookie League teams sorely lack. A few of the players, however, will be college players and high school players that were chosen in the MLB First-Year Player’s Draft, which took place approximately two weeks ago.
In order to maximize the attendance to their season opener, the Princeton Rays have announced that the first game in Pulaski Mariners history, June 17 at Princeton, has free admission courtesy of First Community Bank.
Game time is 7 p.m. at Hunnicutt Field with the gates opening at 6 p.m.
Baseball will officially return to Pulaski on Friday, June 20, as the Mariners will take the field at Calfee Park for the first time in history to take on the Elizabethton Twins. Saturday night will be Little League Night at the Park as all Little League players in uniform get free admission when accompanied by a coach.
NASCAR night, sponsored by Nationwide Insurance, complete with racecars and giveaways, will be held June 22.
Civic Club Night is set for July 1, while July 2 will be Crime Prevention Night with the Pulaski Town Police Department.
Armed Forces Night is slated for July 5 with all current and former military personnel in uniform receiving $1 off general admission.
On July 6, the Mariners will celebrate the team mascot’s birthday with a baseball card show at the park.
Big Brothers and Big Sisters Night is July 12; Pulaski Community Hospital Night, July 24; New River Community College Night, July 25; and YMCA Night on July 27.
Community nights will provide discounts to residents from surrounding counties. Floyd County Night kicks things off on June 21 with $1 off admission to residents with proof of residence. Other community nights include: Craig County, June 30; Bland and Wythe, July 1; Carroll and Hillsville, July 2; Giles, July 3; Montgomery and Radford, July 11; and a special July 6 invite to our neighbors across the border in West Virginia.
One of the biggest events is called “Stitch-n-Pitch,” which brings together two timeless traditions – baseball and the Needle Arts. Come to a ball game and knit, crochet, embroider, cross-stitch or needlepoint. The Stitch N’ Pitch program had its unofficial start in 2005, when retail needle arts stores in Seattle began a program at Mariners games. The national association facilitated the expansion two years ago, with 15 major league teams involved. This season almost every Major League team will participate with over half a dozen minor league teams, including Pulaski, joining the mix.
Other events include: Hokie Nation Night on July 28; Back-to-School Night on August 7; Fan Appreciation Night on August 22, and Chamber of Commerce night on July 26. The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department will also highlight its DARE program on August 7.
College students will receive a discount at Saturday night games, and Sundays include a $1 off admission with a church bulletin. Sundays will also include a trivia contest entitled “RU Smarter than a 4th Grader.”
The team will also host a governmental night on August 5, and Special Olympics Night on August 12.
General admission tickets are $4 and reserve seats are $6. Books of tickets are on sale by contacting the team office at (540) 980-1070.
For more information, check out www.pulaskimariners.net.

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