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vs. Lake County
When: 7:05 p.m. today
TV: Xfinity Channel 81
Radio: 1380 AM
Tickets: $12.50, $10, $9, $8, $5 (lawn)
Information: or 482-6400

As Parkview Field hits 5, it’s grown into a star

Fort Wayne TinCaps groundskeeper Keith Winter first stepped into Parkview Field in 2009 – a time when the venue was “nothing special.”

Four years later, it is the best it’s ever been, he said, thanks to the vision and effort of the entire organization.

“I think this is the best I’ve ever seen it heading into a season in all facets, whether that be the field, the stadium, just the overall cleanliness, the new signage,” Winter said.

“We want to showcase what we’ve done, and our staff works hard year-round to bring that all into focus and make sure the fan experience is as good as it can be.”

His staff, and the team, will get that chance at 7:05 p.m. today as the TinCaps open play at Parkview Field against Lake County.

Michael Limmer, the TinCaps’ vice president of marketing, said his team is excited for opening night, which will include a $5,000 giveaway that every fan who walks into the park will be eligible to win.

“We’ve sold out each of the four previous opening days, and we’re on pace to sell this one out, as well,” Limmer said in an interview Tuesday. “We don’t take that for granted. … We need to make sure we continue to evolve and improve.”

So too does the product on the field, and after a run to the Midwest League finals last season, the TinCaps have started the season well. Fort Wayne was 3-3 after Wednesday’s game and started the season 3-0 for the first time in nearly a decade. The TinCaps have found early success behind some hot bats and a group of young pitchers.

One of those young arms, Max Fried, is slated to start tonight.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Fried, an 18-year-old picked No. 7 in the 2012 draft. “To have the opportunity to go out and throw that night is really special, and I honestly can’t wait. I’m extremely excited.”

Manager Jose Valentin is enthusiastic about his group, as well, and expects to be a championship contender once again this season.

“I know it’s kind of early, but I think our pitching staff is great,” he said. “Hitting-wise, we’ve been really outstanding. We’re just getting the hits when we need them. And defensively, we’re playing good enough.”

Fried said the team has been “resilient” through the first few games of the season, which Fort Wayne started with seven games on the road. The clubhouse, despite a slew of newcomers, has meshed well thus far, he said, and the 6-foot-4 right-hander has heard plenty about the raucous atmosphere at last season’s opener in Parkview.

Limmer said that game had the highest attendance (8,577) of any in the park’s history as the TinCaps’ home.

“It’s kind of become an institution here in Fort Wayne,” Limmer said of opening day. “They’ve embraced us. They’ve given us such support. And it’s our responsibility to make sure we continue to provide that service back and we continue to improve.”