By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
It has been 672 days since the St. Joseph Mustangs ended the 2019 season with their seventh MINK League Championship.
After a cancelled season in 2020, the Mustangs organization is thrilled to pack Phil Welch Stadium for a 12th season this summer.
The festivities get started with Fan Fest on June 1, which gets underway at 6 p.m. on the eve of the season opener.
Mustangs general manager Ky Turner is thrilled to welcome fans back after a long year off.
"Last time we sold a ticket to a fan walking up to a game was late July 2019," he said. "We're just now getting ready to get a chance, almost two years later. That's tough, but some people have really helped out and sponsorship sales and season ticket sales have gone well."
Food specials, national anthem tryouts, batting practice and autographs will highlight the Fan Fest event, and admission is free.
Fans will have the chance to meet players and get autographs from the entire 2021 roster following the completion of batting practice.
The Mustangs' roster features 13 players who are products of local high schools, including five from Savannah alone.
So while there's always a few new wrinkles for fans each summer, Turner says the experience will still be a familiar one.
"You'll see the heightened presence of the local players here," Turner said. "You're going to see that also on the field. There's a lot of stuff in the stands, in the concession stands but also a big part of it on the field."
Mustangs players, who started arriving last week, had their first practice Monday and open the season Wednesday against the MINK League's newest team - the Des Moines Peak Prospects. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.
All school and medical staff will receive two free tickets to Wednesday's game as a way of saying thank you for all of their efforts in the last 16 or so months.
"That's a big deal to us," Turner said. "Because we know those people specifically have dealt with a lot of stuff that you normally wouldn't on top of the stuff they already do for us."
There will also be a postgame fireworks spectacular after Wednesday's game, as well as June 5, July 3, July 4, July 17 and July 24. Dollar beer nights will be back on Fridays, along with other specials.
Preparing for the season takes many months, and many different people, and preparations last right up until the first pitch.
But, after a year off, Turner and his staff want to give fans that sense of normalcy back, and give them the same fun experience they remember.
"We always walk in our guests' shoes and always try and look at it from their eyes and see how we can make it better," Turner said. "That's the other thing, too. We have a whole new intern staff that comes in here and I'm sure they're just as nervous as heck, as our players are too, getting ready to play in front of that opening crowd."
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