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Again within the swing of issues: The pandemic has hit minor league baseball, however Harrisburg Senators take the lead – The Burg Information

Photo courtesy of the Harrisburg Senators.

Pam MacNett went from her home in downtown Harrisburg to games on City Island when she was 8 years old.

It was one of the few fun things to do in town at the time, she said. From then on it got stuck. She has had Senators season tickets every year since 1999 and even has players at home during the season.

"I'm pretty involved," she said. "It's a very big part of my life."

It was no surprise to hear that MacNett already had their 2021 season tickets. She was eager to return to her happy place – beer in one hand, hot dog in the other. After all, the pandemic had robbed them of baseball in 2020 when the small leagues canceled their season. It was the first time in years that she missed a season.

"It's super exciting to have something back that has been such a big part of my life for the last 20 years," she said.

Really tough

Senator fans, players and officials are all ready to get going, and this month they will.

"We are very happy to be able to play again," said Senator-President Kevin Kulp. "We live for the game day."

You start the season on May 4th against the Patriots in Somerset, New Jersey, and play against the Richmond Flying Squirrels on May 11th. In total, the Senators will play 120 games, 60 at home and 60 away.

The season starts a month late due to COVID restrictions in spring training complexes, but lasts two weeks longer than usual.

The team will play six series of games Tuesday through Sunday. You will play against almost every team in the league and play six games in a row against the same team. Kulp said this will help reduce travel time and costs – a huge benefit.

With the cancellation of the 2020 season, the Senators' income fell by over 90% compared to the 2019 season, said Kulp.

"We were without income for a year and a half – this is not how minor league teams should support themselves," he said. "We don't make a lot of money in our prime. The last 20 months have been really tough."

It's not magically getting better at the start of the 2021 season either, Kulp said. You'll be around 30% busy at the booths to make up for social distancing.

However, Kulp was quick to say that doesn't mean fans won't experience the usual fun, family atmosphere.

"We're not going to miss out on what fans can expect when they get to the ballpark," he said.

time to party

MacNett and others can still purchase essential matchday groceries. Families can also safely participate in activities for children. Most importantly, fans should be able to cheer on their team as they play.

As excited as the fans are, players like Rhett Wiseman are even more ready to prepare for the field after months of missing the diamond.

"I look forward to getting out on the field and playing the game I love," said Wiseman, who played for the Senators in 2019. "If COVID showed me something, then I love the game."

At the same age, MacNett started watching baseball games regularly, Wiseman started playing baseball regularly since he was 8 years old. 2020 was also the first one he missed.

Minor league players discovered on the first day of spring training in 2020 that the season had been canceled. They should pack their bags and go home.

"You realize that all of this training that you do is going to be for nothing," said Wiseman. "It was difficult."

For the free year, players had to find a way to keep practicing and staying in shape. Wiseman bonded with a group of players in his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, and played pickup games together in the backyard and trained together. However, he knows that not everyone has had the same experience.

Wiseman predicts there will be some rust for the players to shake off, but he feels ready to play whichever team he plays with.

"I have a feeling these guys will make sure that their minds and bodies are ready for the season," said Kulp. "It will be impressive to see them recover."

It's not just the players who are hoping for a recovery, but the Senators as a whole. Kulp emphasized that the team needs fans to travel to City Island more than ever.

"We are here as a point of sale for affordable family entertainment and now we need community support," he said.

For the hardcore sports fan and those just looking for food or entertainment, baseball is another sense of normal as society approaches post-pandemic life. May 11, the Senators' first home game, cannot come soon enough.

"It's going to be a very emotional day," said Kulp. "It will be a time to celebrate."

Tickets for the 2021 senatorial season will be sold in two, three, four, or six pods to allow for social distancing. May tickets are on sale now. Please visit the Harrisburg Senators website for more information.

Swing battery!

The Senators' home schedule for 2021:

Tuesday May 11 through Sunday May 16 – Richmond Flying Squirrels

Tuesday May 18th to Sunday May 23rd – Altoona Curve

Tuesday June 1st through Sunday June 6th – Portland Sea Dogs

Tuesday June 15 through Sunday June 20 – Reading Fightin Phils

Tuesday June 29th through Sunday July 4th – Somerset Patriots

Tuesday July 13 through Sunday July 18 – Akron RubberDucks

Tuesday August 3 through Sunday August 8 – Erie SeaWolves

Tuesday August 10 through Sunday August 15 – New Hampshire Fisher Cats

Tuesday August 24th through Sunday August 29th – Hartford Yard Goats

Tuesday September 7th to Sunday September 12th – Bowie Baysox

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