Sizzling Grizzlies open homestand Tuesday

News-DemocratJune 30, 2014 

— The red-hot Gateway Grizzlies return to GCS Ballpark this week to celebrate the Fourth of July as only they can with fireworks both on and off the field.

Leading the Frontier League's West Division by four games, Gateway (28-13) will take on Florence in the first of a three-game series beginning at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. Second-place and archrival River City (23-16) then comes to calling for single games on Friday and Saturday.

Gateway enters the homestand with a seven-game winning streak after completing a three-game sweep at Joliet on Sunday.

But the fireworks won't be limited to just the playing field by the Grizzlies, who are as hot as a firecracker.

Speaking of firecrackers, in celebration of the Fourth of July holiday, huge firework shows will be held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night following the ballgame.

The fireworks shows are a point of pride by the smooth running and efficient Gateway organization.

"GCS Ballpark is the place to be for fireworks for the Fourth of July celebration. I've told people that we're putting five fire departments on alert that we're shooting off that many fireworks,'' Grizzlies general manager Steve Gomric said. "It's the biggest promotion in all of minor league baseball and it's out biggest promotion as well."

The Grizzlies will take on Florence on Thursday at 6:05 p.m. and River City at 6:05 p.m. on Friday. The game on Saturday begins at 7:05 pm. Fireworks will follow all three nights.

The Fourth of July festivities begin a busy month at GCS Ballpark with the 2014 Frontier League All-Star Game to be played in Sauget at 7:05 p.m. on July 16.

The annual game features the best players from the East Division against West Division. It will be the highlight of three days of activities surrounding the league's version of the annual mid-summer classic put on by Major League Baseball.

Fans entering GCS Ballpark for the first time this season will notice a new video board, new concession area and improvements to the pressbox, among other additions to the facility.

"Preparations are coming along. I will say that. We've done alot of physical things like the concession area and video board that we were going to do,'' Gomric said. "It's almost like we're relaunching the Grizzlies around this All-Star game and that's a good thing.

"These were all things we were going to do eventually. Having the all-star game accelerated the process. We just realized that you know what? It's time. If we're going to show off the Gateway Grizzlies and we're going to be showing off the best fans in the country, then this is how we're going to do it.''

The activities begin July 14 when the Chicago Bandits -- a nationally known women's softball team -- will conduct a girls softball camp at GCS Ballpark beginning at 1 p.m.

The camp continues on Tuesday morning. The cost is $75 per person and includes a ticket to the home run derby and all-star game.

The all-star luncheon is set for 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday at the Casino Queen. The event includes the introduction of the all-stars from both divisions and first ever inductions into the Frontier League Hall of Fame.

The list of inductees includes Morgan Burkhart, Brett Gray, Fran Riordan, Aaron Ledbetter, Kirk Taylor, Scott Pinoni and Frontier League founder Chris Hanners.

Tickets are priced at $50 per person and $400 for a table of 10.

The gates at GCS Ballpark open at 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday and from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m., fans will have the opportunity to meet the all-stars and get autographs.

A youth home run derby championship will also begin at 5:45 p.m. with the Frontier League home run derby set to begin at 7:05 p.m.

Following the home run derby, the Chicago Bandits will take on a group of Frontier League all-stars in the annual Battle of the Sexes.

"It's a fun night for everyone,'' Gomric said. "But I tell you, the Battle of the Sexes, if it's like it was last year in Washington (Pa.) will be fun, but it will also be competitive."

Tickets are priced at $15 for box seats and $10 for lawn seats.

On July 16, the Frontier League Commissioner Bill Lee's Open Golf Tournament will be held at Far Oaks Golf Course in Caseyville.

The cost is $100 per person or $400 for foursome. Space is extremely limited so persons wishing to play need to contact the Grizzlies as soon as possible.

As an added bonus, those people who enter foursomes will given $400 in tickets for both Tuesday and Wednesday nights at GCS Ballpark.

"It's a great way to promote the all-star game. It's a great way for someone who wants to see an all-star off the field,'' Gomric said. "I'm anticipating 35 to 40 players who will play golf that morning.

The 2014 Frontier League All-Star Game, presented by the Casino Queen, is set for 7:05 p.m.

Gates open at 5:45 p.m. Tickets are priced at $15 per person.

The all-star festivities conclude with a gigantic fireworks display following the game.

For information, persons can call 618-337-3000 or you can also visit gatewaygrizzlies.com for more information.

Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or dcriddle@bnd.com

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