MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — The sights and sounds of baseball have returned.
“It really puts Martinsville on the map I think,” Mustangs general manager Ruthanne Duffy said. “I think people are starting to hear that there’s a baseball team getting started again, where is it?”
For now, Hooker Field in Martinsville is the only place in Southwest Virginia where you can see and hear it.
“It’s been tough to try and get this going but I know that people are just longing to have this interaction, whether it be six feet apart or not,” Duffy said.
The Martinsville Mustangs have worked for months to prepare for opening night, with player safety being a top priority.
“(We were) trying to get our guys tested for the coronavirus before they even came to Martinsville because they stay with host families and we just wanted to minimize that risk,” Duffy said.
The visiting team comes dressed while the Mustangs are separated into two different locker rooms with staggered arrival times.
For fans, the new normal will be apparent right when you through the gate, with temperature checks at the entrance, hand sanitizing stations throughout the ball park and rows of seats marked off for social distancing.
“We’ve tried to do contactless ticketing so if you buy a season ticket through us, we’re going to have QR codes so hopefully we’ll do that for single game tickets as well,” Duffy said.
Even with all the precautions and measures to get inside the ballpark, fans say it’s a small price to pay to be able to watch live sports again.
“Small price to pay. Several weeks ago, knew it was going to be tonight,” Mustangs fan Craig O’Der said. “My son is playing on the opposing team but he’s a hometown kid and we were so excited to be here tonight to enjoy this.”
The first few games are exhibition contests, which will give the front office a chance to iron out any wrinkles before the Coastal Plain league officially starts on July 2.
“Just try to figure all these things out right now before we start to play,” Duffy said. “It’s going to be big because once Coastal Plain league starts, it’s going to be effortless and we’ll be able to just go through the motions.”