Baseball fans meet the Bradenton Marauders
The 2018 Florida State League season is underway, but it doesn't really begin for Bradenton baseball fans until Saturday.
That's when the home opener for the Bradenton Marauders, the high-Single A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is scheduled
Saturday's game against the St. Lucie Mets at LECOM Park in Bradenton features postgame fireworks in addition to it being a Pirates and Princesses Night where costumes are encouraged. Also, horse and carriage rides will be offered.
Other firework series games this season include May 26, July 3, July 21, Aug. 4 and Aug. 25.
"We did six firework (games) again this year, because that's what the people want and we're going to give the people what they want," Marauders general manager Rachelle Madrigal said.
Games held Monday-Saturday are scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m., while Sunday games are set to begin at 1 p.m.
The exceptions are three 10:30 a.m. games held on Education Day (May 16) and Camp Day (June 20 and July 18).
Other recurring daily promotions are Bark in the Park series games on April 21, May 25, June 22, July 10 and Aug. 10 that focus on bringing your dog to the ballpark.
Free T-shirt giveaways are slated for April 21, May 12, June 1 and June 22.
There are also weekly promotions at LECOM Park this season, including the return of the popular Thirsty Thursdays, which features sodas and select draft beers for $1.
"Of course everyone wants their dollar drafts," Madrigal said.
Sundays are about families, with children ages 12 and younger allowed to run the bases after the game. Kids also can receive free admission to five Sunday home games with a T-shirt and other exclusive perks as part of a $10 membership fee in the First Mates Kids Club.
The themed jersey series returns with a twist. The Marauders added two new ones: First Responders and SpongeBob SquarePants.
"We did SpongeBob SquarePants, because he's a multigenerational popular character," Madrigal said. "So we figure that's the safe route to go to introduce our fans to Nickelodeon, and then we can mix it up again next year.
"First Responders, we work so closely with the Bradenton Police Department and with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. So we figured it would be kind of neat to get them on board, get them engaged and celebrate the other departments like the Fire Department and EMS."
Tickets for Marauders home games cost $10 for infield box and infield reserve sections, $8 for baseline box sections and $6 for left field bleachers.