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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
TinCaps’ employee Austin Allen leads a group of fans in a tour of the home dugout Saturday at the Parkview Field open house. Visitors were given a behind-the-scenes look at the ballpark.

Crowd soaks up sun, ambience at ballpark

Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
TinCaps fans tour the clubhouse during Saturday’s open house at Parkview Field. Some of the players’ luggage has already arrived.

– Saturday was a day meant for a ballpark, and hundreds of people from northeast Indiana took advantage of that at the TinCaps’ open house at Parkview Field.

The wind was a touch too brisk for the weather to be called “warm,” and the sun was a touch too warm for it to be called “chilly,” making for a perfect day for light jackets and cheap concessions – nearly everything was $1, including hot dogs, beer and sodas.

Dan Moord of Fort Wayne often stops by Parkview Field on his Saturday afternoon bicycle ride. As he enjoyed his Starbucks coffee with his red bike parked in front of him, he said he didn’t even know the open house was going on but was happy to have stumbled upon it.

For Moord, baseball has memories rooted in his childhood, when his father managed an industrial league team in Constantine, a tiny town in southern Michigan. As TinCaps employees worked on the field, Moord said, he flashed back to sitting in the stands or helping his father when he was a boy.

“It’s just nostalgic,” he said. “That’s what baseball’s all about.”

As an adult, baseball is part of Moord’s life, too: His son plays for the Spiders, a local youth baseball travel team, and Snider High School – “They’re going to be state champions this year,” the proud papa said.

The McChesney family of Fort Wayne hadn’t been to a TinCaps open house before Saturday, but they wanted to take their children, Josh McChesney said. The family went on the tour, where people learned about the workings of the ballpark.

Despite the sun, son Joel, 8, found Saturday a little too chilly; his favorite part of the tour was the suites, where it was warm, he said. Josh and Stephanie McChesney favored getting to see the clubhouses. She enjoyed getting to see the jerseys, and he enjoyed learning the history of the uniform. The jerseys the players wore in Parkview Field’s inaugural season of 2009 will be discontinued this year and auctioned off, Josh McChesney said.

The family makes it to opening day every year, Stephanie McChesney said.

“Last year, it snowed,” Josh McChesney said. “It wasn’t fun. We left early.”

While baseball fans milled about the stadium, enjoying a drink or chowing down on a hot dog, Parkview Field employees continued preparations for the TinCaps’ home opener April 11.

The team opens the regular season Thursday at Midland, Mich., against the Great Lakes Loons.

Because the first home game is 11 days away, workers have a little extra time to get the ballpark ready, said David Lorenz, vice president of corporate partnership for the TinCaps.

Lorenz chipped in by adding stickers to all the cup holders in sections 101, 102 and 114 – about 1,300 seats – for new sponsor Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance. Lorenz said he completed the task, which took about 16 hours, with his friend Katelynn Nutter, 8, whose father is Mike Nutter, TinCaps president.

The open houses began when the stadium opened, Lorenz said, though the first year was just for employees only.

Attendance depends largely on the weather. Temperatures in the 50s brought considerably more people than last year, he said, when there was snow.

“You never know when you might reach new people,” he said of the open house. “It’s nice to get out of the house. People love to see the green grass and (smell) the smells of ballparks.”