GTPulse: Celebrate The Pit Spitters Opening Day Today

COVID-19 has left a hole in the hearts of sports fans everywhere. Stadiums will be one of the last venues to open to the public amid restrictions, which means that summer sports like baseball will be postponed for at least part of the season and potentially until next year.

Pit Spitter games were a source of comfort and relaxation for me last year. They were something I felt comfortable going to with friends or alone, and more than a few times I got by on a dinner consisting of hot dogs and beer for under $10. Watching a Pit Spitters game is a summertime experience that I and many others will sorely miss, but you can still get a taste of some Pit Spitters fun today, on what would have been their opening day for the season.

“We have a great group of people in the front office and we’re like a family. Not being able to be around them sucks, and knowing that we’re supposed to be at a game..it stinks. We have the best fans. Everyone in Traverse City really opened their arms and their hearts to us last year.”

Britani Eaton is the Promotions and Community Engagement Manager for the Pit Spitters. She hasn’t seen her colleagues or any players since restrictions began.

“We actually are all working from home now. Non-pandemic, we get there at 8:30, we kind of go through everything that needs to be done as far as our different departments. Food and Beverage is handling food and beverage, I’m handling all the promotions and community relations aspects. Getting everything ready. There’s a lot of planning in the offseason too. One thing [General Manager] Mickey [Graham] is huge on is making sure we have a good plan in place so it looks good for everyone and it runs smoothly.”

Tonight’s stadium would have probably been packed with friends and fans. To soothe some of the longing that fans have for a game, The Pit Spitters are providing some of that experience through a virtual game instead.

“We’ve been creating videos from our staff, our manager, some of our sponsors. We have video highlights from last season, we have a thank you video from our staff thanking the essential employees. We have the shortened version of the championship game, all of that stuff.”

They’ve worked to enhance the experience by opening up their concessions with drive-thru style ordering from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“It really starts at 11. We have our curbside ballpark lunch pickup where people can come to the ballpark, stay in their car. We have a lunch option of a hot dog, a bag of Great Lakes chips, a cookie and a Pepsi product for $7. We’re also running a promo where they can donate $5 and purchase a lunch for a Munson employee. Virtual Opening Day starts at 7 on our Facebook.”

Part of what makes their games so much fun is that it’s not just going to watch a game. Halftime shows hosted by Connor Miller and mascot Monty are as fun as they are interactive. Games, jokes and other entertainment make for a great way to engage fans of all ages and interest levels. Even as someone who isn’t a huge sports fan, it’s hard to get bored at a game, and it just doesn’t feel the same to dance the cotton-eyed-joe without a crowd. As it stands, the NCAA committed to the health and safety of college athletes. The Pit Spitters are hoping for a reopening later in the season with safety rules in place but it’s still touch and go at the moment. 

“As it is right now our season is delayed. We don’t know when for sure we’re going to open. We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to play baseball in Traverse City this summer but as of right now we don’t know when that will be.”

Britani and Mickey have ideas brewing for how to stay engaged with the community should the season get canceled.

“With us, our goal is to make every game entertaining for everyone. When everyone leaves, no matter what the score was, we want everyone to leave with a smile on their face. They had fun, they wanna come back. That’s our main goal. If our season doesn’t happen we’re going to work to get more entertainment on social media and be more engaging to keep the fans there and keep our presence in their mind.”

Even as a passive, quasi sports fan I know I’ll be holding out for games to come back, no matter when that is.

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Categories: GTPulse