Absent for 614 days, minor league baseball set to return to Salem

Local Sports

SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — After spending the first week of the 2021 season on the road, the Salem Red Sox will play their first home game since the pandemic began on Tuesday night.

“Honestly, I get goosebumps every opening day,” general manager Allen Lawrence said. “But, I think, I anticipate this year is just going to be much different.”

The stage is set for minor league baseball’s return to Salem Memorial Ballpark. The game on Tuesday, May 11 marks the first Red Sox game at home since Sept. 5, 2019.

“We’re so excited to have baseball back. It’s in my veins,” said Lawrence. “I’ve been doing this 20 years and never had to experience a year like last year.”

Safety is a top priority, with the team making adjustments to follow proper COVID-19 protocols.

“We’re still figuring some of it out quite honestly, some of the stuff that we have to do for the players down in the clubhouse, making sure that we keep them socially distanced,” Lawrence said. “We had to set up a whole other locker room for them, an auxiliary clubhouse for some of the players to socially distance themselves.”

While the stadium won’t be filled to capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions, it will be filled with excitement as the sport returns for the first time in over 600 days.

“I’m optimistic that all the fans, 2,000 fans that we’re able to have here with the restrictions are going to sound like 10,000 fans,” said Lawrence.

After more than a year without professional baseball, ticket sales suggest that fans are more than ready to come back.

“Our fans are really excited. They’ve told me they’re excited,” Lawrence said. “They can’t wait to get out here. Sales have been very good. A lot of season ticket sales lately. That tells me they’re excited.”

The countdown to first pitch now down to its final hours after a long wait to return to normal.

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