The Sock 'Em, Bust 'Em Board Because that's our custom

March 17 right around the corner

One of my many cousins from Cleveland was in town for the weekend, and though he’s familiar with the city and the state after spending many years of his career here, there were some things and places he wanted to see and things and places I wanted to show him. On the list: the site of WVU’s new baseball stadium. We’re Indians fans. We like ballpark architecture.

So my wife and I took him out there Saturday evening. I told him about the TIF district. He wondered about traffic, and I said there’s a plan to create a new interstate exit. We all believe wind, at that elevation atop the hill, will be a major part of the experience and that patrons should expect it to be cooler there than in town.

And then, as though it was no longer something we could avoid, we got to the heart of the matter.

“When’s the first game?” he asked.

“March 17.”

“March 17?”

The looks we exchanged, the laughs we shared, they both said one thing. There is a lot of work to start and finish to make sure the Mountaineers aren’t playing some home games at Hawley Field this season.

The baseball team had its media day before the Baylor game Saturday, and the questions about the readiness of the field were answered as you might expect. After my totally uninformed and informal visit in the dark with a cousin who is equally unqualified to opine about the pace of ballpark construction, I sent texts to three people who are affiliated with that project, one way or another. They agreed that March 17 seemed unlikely.

You hope that’s not true.

Maybe you miss first game. If so, the next home game is 10 days later. That’s a good cushion. Then again, WVU is playing Division III Waynesburg University in the home opener.

The significance of the game is that West Virginia hosted Waynesburg in the first game in school history to open the 1892 season.

“We’re really excited to play Waynesburg. One hundred twenty-two years ago the very first game WVU ever played was against Waynesburg,” Mazey said. “In the new era with the new facility, we’re going to renew that old rivalry so to speak by playing Waynesburg in that first game. There is a lot of nostalgia and we’re going to try and bring some alumni back and show the people that we’re making progress.”

If WVU misses the second series March 27-29, the next home dates are April 10-12 against Butler. There are “only” 22 home games, and you don’t want to dig too deep into the schedule because of team moral and season-ticket holders who were made to pay more this season, seemingly solely because of the new attraction.

And before you get the wrong idea here, understand no one wants to see this happen, OK?

Plus, a possibly good sign came in the email this morning:

February 11, 2015

TO:      Media
FR:       WVU Baseball/West Virginia Black Bears
RE:       Monongalia County Ballpark

Members of the media are invited to the site of Monongalia County Ballpark to shoot footage of the ballpark today, Wednesday, at 1 p.m.

AstroTurf arrived yesterday and the unrolling began on Tuesday evening.

Something we noticed and commented on Saturday night? There was no green on the field.