ASHEBORO — There were no bus rides, designated meeting place before departing or packing up equipment on a bus for an away “home game” June 22 when the Asheboro ZooKeepers opened the season at McCrary Park.
There had been previous scheduled home games this summer, but the home contests early in the campaign were switched to UNCG or postponed until later in the season as renovations continued at McCrary Park.
Despite muddy, rainy conditions, the ZooKeepers treated the home fans to a “home opening” 9-6 win over the Boone Bigfoots in the opening of a Coastal Plain League doubleheader. The nightcap was rained out.
Although the ticket booth, bathrooms and concourse areas at the stadium were among the areas still being renovated, there was game action on the field for the first time since the American Legion’s Southeast Regional Tournament last August.
“It was nice for me, but I'm sure it was nice for the guys,” Asheboro Manager Kory Dunbar said. “Getting to play at a place you call home is always nice. Not having to load up the buses is always good and hopefully we can establish something here.”
Although the weather may have kept some fans at home, the team certainly felt the home field advantage.
“It definitely plays a factor,” Dunbar said. “We have played some away teams who do it pretty good and bring in a good amount of people. It’s always more exciting when people show up, especially at home. The fans coming out and supporting the guys always brings the energy up.”
Asheboro Mayor David Smith, one of the key personnel behind the renovation, threw out the first pitch.
“It was the first game and the ZooKeepers really played well and it was just nice to be out there,” Smith said. “We have a lot of work to do yet and we’ll keep working. Baby steps. It was a step in the right direction.”
There are still plenty of renovations that must be completed, but the city workers and personnel aren’t shying away.
As of late last week, there is no power to the ticket booth and bathrooms, the brick work around the gate and entrance area needed to be completed, concrete needed to be poured in the concourse area and an additional bleacher may be added down the right field line.
The area down the right field line needs to be completed and a number of buildings and a playground are still planned for the future.
Between the American Legion baseball teams and the ZooKeepers, there will be game action just about every night for the rest of the summer.
“We see the staff working their tails off to make this special,” Dunbar said. “We’re seeing the people put in the time. (The players) see the people working and putting in the time.
“They are doing everything they can to make sure these kids have an enjoyable summer.”