Play Ball! Myrtle Beach Pelicans Open Baseball Season

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The smell of freshly cut grass, the sounds of cheering crowds and the crack of the bat, and the taste of hot dogs and Cracker Jacks: Those unmistakable signs can mean only one thing on the Grand Strand – the start of spring, baseball season and the arrival of our beloved home team, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

The Class A minor-league franchise of the Texas Rangers kicks off the 2014 season at 7 p.m. Thursday at TicketReturn.com Stadium on 21st Avenue North in Myrtle Beach across from Broadway at the Beach, and the opening weekend series features four home games through Sunday afternoon. A sellout crowd of nearly 6,000 is expected to see the Pelicans play the Salem Red Sox on opening night, and a full weekend will feature specials events and promotions, not to mention the long-awaited arrival of baseball.

Thursday’s traditional opening ceremonies include pre-game autograph sessions with the new crop of players, as well as a post-game tradition of allowing kids under 12 to run the bases before heading home. Of course, the highlight of the night is the post-game pyrotechnics shows, giving fans the chance to stay in their comfy seats and see some of the best fireworks in Myrtle Beach. The first 5,000 fans through the gates will receive a 2014 schedule magnet, and the return of Thirsty Thursday offers $1 draft beers from 6 to 8 p.m.

Although opening night is traditionally the busiest night at the ballpark, the crowds drop off considerably for the remainder of the weekend series and fans can participate in some of the many wacky promotions the team has in store for this season. Friday is Harry Potter Night as fans compete in a costume contest of their favorite character from the book series and Saturday is Superhero Night, when fans dress as their favorite cartoon good guy. Post-game fireworks will also light up the sky following Saturday’s contest. Sunday's series finale is a rare 2 p.m. start and features a baseball gear giveaway to the first 1,000 kids through the gates.

The Pelicans offer a full season of similar promotions, from the annual Bark at the Park Night when fans can bring their four-legged friends to the game and the fan-favorite dog and monkey rodeo, featuring chimps riding bareback on shepherds. A full list of promotions, giveaways and game schedules are available at www.myrtlebeachpelicans.com.

(posted 4/3/14)