Return of the Whitecaps in West Michigan gives fans hope

West Michigan Whitecaps

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Minor League Baseball came back to West Michigan as the Whitecaps hosted their first home game in more than 600 days.

The Whitecaps played the Great Lakes Loons at the newly named Tuesday night. The Loons took a 9-1 victory.

The play on the field was the same, but COVID-19 protocols threw a curveball on the usual gameday experience for fans — many of them glad to be back at the ballpark.

“Only difference is the amount of people. It still feels like a good atmosphere. Everyone here is into the game, pretty excited to be here,” home opener attendee Taylor Bond said.

Capacity was limited to 2,000 fans. Ballpark leaders asked spectators to wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking.

“Getting used to it. I mean I’m a little too use to the mask thing at this point,” Whitecaps fan Jake Kelsey said. “Being back here is more than enough to keep me happy and keep all of the boys happy too.”

The halt on sporting events last year was a disappointment to fans like Karen Wila, who’s been to every Whitecaps home opener.

“I haven’t missed one,” Wila said. “It’s just great to be here. The masks, it’s just something you got to do. We’re here. At least we’re here outside.”

While measures are being taken to ensure safety, the Whitecaps received some good news last week: on-field activities with fans were given a green light by Major League Baseball. But once again, distancing will be in mind.

“You’ll see the dizzy bat race take place maybe in the corner between the edge of the dugout and the first baseline, rather than right in front of the dugout. So, were moving out further away from people,” said Steve VanWagoner, director of marketing and media relations for the Whitecaps.

LMCU leaders say fans can expect several entertainment activities.

“The mascots are out and about, but we’ve got handlers. We just are asking folks to kindly stay back,” VanWagoner said.

The Whitecaps will be back in action Wednesday at LMCU Ballpark for part two of a six-game series against the Loons, with the first pitch set for 6:35 p.m.

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