Pensacola, Florida
Monday April 22nd 2019

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Blue Wahoos’ Season of New

By Jeremy Morrison

Soon, spring will embrace baseball season in Pensacola, and Blue Wahoos Stadium at Maritime Park will once again hear the crack of the bat, pop of the ball and cheers during Saturday night fireworks.

But on a Wednesday afternoon in late March, the stadium is mostly quiet, except for a gaggle of media here to check out a new slate of food offerings being introduced for the 2019 season.

“My personal favorite—the grilled cheese hot dog,” smiled Jay Kudla, vice president for Blue Wahoos concessions. “It’s half baseball, half comfort food.”

In a minute, Kudla would dare people to try a decadent looking dish dubbed the Deep Fried Elvis, but for now, everyone was busy scarfing down hotdogs with mango salsa and pineapple mustard.

But the Wahoos’ 2019 season will bring more than a new menu. There’s also new sod on the field and, of course, a new team, with the Double-A Blue Wahoos beginning their relationship with the Minnesota Twins.

Kazoo’s Twin
Last fall, the Wahoos announced a big change. After being affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds since its inception, the team would be switching to the Twins.

For local fans, the affiliation switch means getting acquainted with a new roster of players and coaching staff. But with the natural flow of minor-league turnover, that’s pretty normal anyway.

For the Twins, the switch meant moving south from their old Double-A haunts of Chattanooga, Tenn. According to Twins General Manager Thad Levine, it’s a move the team is excited about.

“We enjoyed our time in Chattanooga. We won a lot of baseball games there,” Levine said. “But when the opportunity came to join with [team owner] Quint [Studer], it was something we didn’t want to miss.”

Among the reasons for pursuing the Wahoos was, of course, the stadium locale and the numerous awards the stadium has claimed, but it was also something else, something a little intangible—a chance to develop a symbiotically-beneficial relationship with the community, a chance to contribute to and learn from.

“I believe our players will weave into the fabric of this community. I think they will be better men for having that experience. That was something important to us as we were making this decision to change affiliations,” Levine explained.

The general manager cited how players coming out of Pensacola had benefitted from their time playing in the area.

“You can see how entrenched this team has been in this community and how it has impacted so many people’s lives beyond baseball,” Levine said.

As the Twins make the move to Pensacola, local fans should expect to see some impressive talent come through the area en route to the majors.

“The beauty of where you guys are in the cyclical nature of our development is that some of our best players in the minor league system are either ready to come to Double-A on opening day or they will be here at some point,” Levine said.

Some of the new Wahoos will be coming from the Twins’ Class A team in Fort Myers, Fla. The Fort Myers Miracle won the Florida State League championship in its class last season.

Also coming from Fort Myers will be Ramon Borrego, who managed that championship team. A native of Venezuela, Borrego is excited to be continuing his journey through the minor league ball system in pursuit of baseball dreams and looks forward to his time in Pensacola.

“Now is my time to show people what I can do as a manager in a higher league,” Borrego said. “What is my goal? Working in the big leagues. So, this is part of reaching that goal.”

Borrego is also excited about working with some of the players he knows from Fort Myers. “They know me; I know them,” he said.

He’s also got a feeling that Blue Wahoos fans are in for a good season.

“I really like this team. I think it will be an exciting year,” Borrego said. “You are going to enjoy these guys with the way they play, the passion they bring. It’s going to be a fun, interesting year.”

Menu Anew
The Blue Wahoos’ new affiliation with the Twins is this season’s biggest news, but fans will also see other changes in 2019. In addition to the new sod, a new 20-foot LED video scoreboard behind home plate and the new radio broadcast contract with ESPN Pensacola, there are also the new food offerings.

The stadium’s new menus represent a shift in culinary philosophy.

“We’re getting rid of concession stands,” explained Wahoos President Jonathan Griffith. “We wanted to take our customer service to another level.”

Whereas previous seasons have seen traditional ballpark fare served at the stadium’s various concession areas—hotdogs, pretzels, nachos and beer—the 2019 season will begin a new era. This new era will feature tacos with mahi-mahi, octopus and pickled onions at one place and soft serve chocolate, whiskey-infused ice cream at the next.

Each of the stadium’s concession areas now features a new facade designating each with a different theme. Each theme is meant to highlight an aspect of local culture, with menu items ranging from the nachos conquistadors at Cantina Espanola to the footlong chili cheese hotdog named after Gen. Chappie James.

Bubba’s Sandtrap, the stadium’s bar behind home plate, also got some upgrades this season. Fans can now enjoy their drinks from an outdoor area outside the Sandtrap.

“This, right here behind home plate, pretty much one of the best views in town” Kudla said.

BLUE WAHOOS HOME OPENER 2019
WHAT: Blue Wahoos vs. Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
WHEN: 6:35 p.m. Wednesday, April 10
WHERE: Blue Wahoos Stadium, 351 W. Cedar St.
DETAILS: bluewahoos.com

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—The Daily Show—
Sure, baseball is the main reason to make your way to Wahoos Stadium, but there are a few other things you might want to plan your ballpark outings around. Here’s a rundown of the 2019 promotional schedule.

Military Mondays and Giveback Mondays
The Wahoos will begin each week by honoring local military members and helping local nonprofits raise money through a dual promotion.

Fat Tuesdays
For $24, you can get a ticket to the Winn-Dixie Party Deck, which includes access to a 90-minute pre-game buffet dinner, unlimited soda and water throughout the game and a free Wahoos hat.

Social Media Wednesdays
You already do it for the ‘gram, why not for a chance to win prizes? Make sure your phone is fully charged and come ready to get social with Wahoos players and staff throughout the game every Wednesday.

Thirsty Thursdays
Because the only thing better than a ballgame is a ballgame with happy hour.

Giveaway Fridays
Be one of the first 2,000 fans at the ballpark on Fridays to get special edition Wahoos giveaway items. They’ve got some pretty great stuff planned this season—like a Pensacola Beach Towel on May 31 and a LandShark Margaritaville Bobblehead on Aug. 16.

Fireworks Saturdays
Win or lose, the Wahoos celebrate every Saturday night with post-game fireworks.

Family Sundays
Bring the kids, and after the game, they can take the field, run the bases and play catch in the outfield.

Special Events
In addition to these regular promo nights, there will also be special events throughout the season combining themed food and drink specials, costumes, giveaways and specialty jerseys. Here are a few to go ahead and put on your calendar:

Field of Dreams Night (April 20)
Star Wars Night (May 4)
Bark in the Park (May 16 and Aug. 4)
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure Night (June 4)
Mermaids and Pirates Day (June 16)
Ghostbusters Night (June 29)
Mardi Gras Night (July 16)
Christmas In July (July 26)
Anchorman Night (Aug. 3)
Summer of ’69 Night (Aug. 17)

*All giveaways, promotions and event dates are subject to change

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2019 Home Game Schedule

April
Wednesday, April 10 vs. Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Thursday, April 11 vs. Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Friday, April 12 vs. Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Saturday, April 13 vs. Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Sunday, April 14 vs. Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Saturday, April 20 vs. Mobile Baybears
Sunday, April 21 vs. Mobile Baybears
Monday, April 22 vs. Mobile Baybears
Tuesday, April 23 vs. Mobile Baybears
Wednesday, April 24 vs. Mobile Baybears

May
Wednesday, May 1 vs. Biloxi Shuckers
Thursday, May 2 vs. Biloxi Shuckers
Friday, May 3 vs. Biloxi Shuckers
Saturday, May 4 vs. Biloxi Shuckers
Sunday, May 5 vs. Biloxi Shuckers
Thursday, May 16 vs. Mobile Baybears
Friday, May 17 vs. Mobile Baybears
Saturday, May 18 vs. Mobile Baybears
Sunday, May 19 vs. Mobile Baybears
Monday, May 20 vs. Mobile Baybears
Tuesday, May 28 vs. Mississippi Braves
Wednesday, May 29 vs. Mississippi Braves
Thursday, May 30 vs. Mississippi Braves
Friday, May 31 vs. Mississippi Braves

June
Saturday, June 1 vs. Mississippi Braves
Sunday, June 2 vs.Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Monday, June 3 vs.Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Tuesday, June 4 vs.Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Wednesday, June 5 vs.Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Thursday, June 6 vs.Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Wednesday, June 12 vs.Tennessee Smokies
Thursday, June 13 vs.Tennessee Smokies
Friday, June 14 vs.Tennessee Smokies
Saturday, June 15 vs.Tennessee Smokies
Sunday, June 16 vs.Tennessee Smokies
Tuesday, June 25 vs.Biloxi Shuckers
Wednesday, June 26 vs.Biloxi Shuckers
Thursday, June 27 vs.Biloxi Shuckers
Friday, June 28 vs.Biloxi Shuckers
Saturday, June 29 vs.Biloxi Shuckers
Sunday, June 30 vs. Mississippi Braves

July
Monday, July 1 vs. Mississippi Braves
Tuesday, July 2 vs. Mississippi Braves
Wednesday, July 3 vs. Mississippi Braves
Thursday, July 11 vs. Montgomery Biscuits
Friday, July 12 vs. Montgomery Biscuits
Saturday, July 13 vs. Montgomery Biscuits
Sunday, July 14 vs. Montgomery Biscuits
Monday, July 15 vs. Montgomery Biscuits
Tuesday, July 16 vs. Montgomery Biscuits
Monday, July 22 vs. Mobile Baybears
Tuesday, July 23 vs. Mobile Baybears
Wednesday, July 24 vs. Mobile Baybears
Thursday, July 25 vs. Mobile Baybears
Friday, July 26 vs. Mobile Baybears

August
Thursday, Aug. 1 vs.Birmingham Barons
Friday, Aug. 2 vs.Birmingham Barons
Saturday, Aug. 3 vs.Birmingham Barons
Sunday, Aug. 4 vs.Birmingham Barons
Monday, Aug. 5 vs.Birmingham Barons
Tuesday, Aug. 13 vs.Chattanooga Lookouts
Wednesday, Aug. 14 vs.Chattanooga Lookouts
Thursday, Aug. 15 vs.Chattanooga Lookouts
Friday, Aug. 16 vs.Chattanooga Lookouts
Saturday, Aug. 17 vs.Chattanooga Lookouts
Friday, Aug. 23 vs. Jackson Generals
Saturday, Aug. 24 vs. Jackson Generals
Sunday, Aug. 25 vs. Jackson Generals
Monday, Aug. 26 vs. Jackson Generals
Tuesday, Aug. 27 vs. Jackson Generals

Game Times: Regular season home games start at 6:35 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays. Sunday games start at 1:05 p.m. now and 5:05 p.m. later in the season. Stadium gates open one hour prior to first pitch.