MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - For the first time in nearly two years, AutoZone Park is alive with the sights and sounds of baseball.
Mother Nature threatened Tuesday night’s season opener, but the Redbirds would not be denied. After a nearly two-hour rain delay, it was finally time to play ball in Memphis.
Baseball is officially back in the Bluff City, and it’s been a long time coming for Memphis Redbirds General Manager Craig Unger
“I was more emotional tonight than I thought I would be,” Unger told WMC Action News 5. “I saw people I haven’t seen in 600 days.”
The last Redbirds game was played in August 2019. It’s been an agonizing wait for season ticket holders Rich and Susan Helms. They’ve been going to ball games since the Redbirds were the Chicks.
“We were laughing because we watched corn hole on ESPN,” Rich Helms said. “What else is a baseball fan supposed to do when there’s no baseball? Between the two of us, we’ve been in this stadium for 1,800 games.”
“So yes,” Susan Helm added, “we really missed last year a lot.”
Current capacity at AutoZone Park is reduced because of COVID-19. Just 3,000 fans are allowed so there can be social distancing, and masks are required.
It’s pandemic protocol the Patterson men, grandfather James, son Terence, and grandson Trey, have no problem following if it means they can go to games together again.
“I started with my oldest son Terence,” James Patterson said. “And we’ve continued the tradition of going to games with my grandson.”
“It’s great to be back,” said Terence Patterson.
“And its safe because everybody has their mask up,” Trey said.
Whether it’s family bonding, friends celebrating a birthday or just love of the game, the Redbirds are back in action. That’s good for the fans and for Memphis.
“It’s been hard for us,” said Unger, “but this is like Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s wrapped into one for us!”
The Redbirds play the Durham Bulls five more days this week. Plenty of tickets are available and the First Alert weather team says Memphis should have beautiful baseball weather.