FARGO — The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks season looked different last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed the start of the season into July and limited fan capacity and the regular season to 60 games.
That atmosphere surrounding the game at Newman Outdoor Field also changed due to COVID-19 with the RedHawks not running their customary promotions and between-inning games for fans.
“It’s such a big part of minor league baseball is the experience outside of the lines so having that back brings the whole show back to 100%,” said RedHawks manager Matt Rau.
The RedHawks open their American Association baseball home schedule at 7:02 p.m. Tuesday, May 25, against the Chicago Dogs at Newman. F-M, which had its inaugural season in 1996, is celebrating its 25th anniversary season as the American Association is returning to its customary 100-game regular season.
“It will feel good to get back to some normalcy here this year,” said RedHawks assistant general manager Karl Hoium, who is in charge of promotions.
The RedHawks plan to have seven fireworks games this summer, including Friday night games at Newman and the final game of the regular season Sept. 2, which is fan appreciation night.
“We always consider a game as a night of entertainment,” Rau said. “If you’re there to watch baseball, that’s for you. If you’re there to see all the minor league antics, that’s also entertaining. Everybody kind of has their own reasons to enjoy the game.”
Below is a fan’s guide to some of the more notable promotions, giveaways and entertainment acts scheduled for Newman Outdoor Field.
The RedHawks have four bobblehead nights scheduled, including three for notable players from the franchise’s history.
The Hawkeye bobblehead giveaway is scheduled for May 29, the Darryl Motley bobblehead giveaway is set for June 19, the Joe Mathis bobblehead giveaway is slated for July 3 and the Zach Penprase bobblehead giveaway is scheduled for Aug. 21.
“Bobbleheads are always popular,” Hoium said. “I know we’ve already gotten phone calls from collectors all over the region and the country, wanting to know how they can get their hands on it. ... Those who want all of them, they’re going to be in line pretty early (for each bobblehead night) I think.”
The first 1,000 fans at each of those games receive bobbleheads. All four bobbleheads connect to make one complete bobblehead for fans that are able to collect all four.
“That’s a very unique one in that it forms a set,” Rau said.
Motley played for the RedHawks from 1996-99, Mathis played for F-M from 2003-2008 and Penprase played with the team from 2008-2015.
“We kind of broke down the 25 years into kind of segments,” Hoium said of selecting which players to feature for bobbleheads.
Old-school opening night
The RedHawks played their first official home games at Jack Williams Stadium during the 1996 season. They played their first home game at Newman Outdoor Field on June 21, which is why this summer, June 21 is themed “1996 Opening Night.”
F-M will have throwback ticket prices for that game and it’s also $1 hot dog night. Ticket prices for that game are $6.50 for reserved and $4 for general admission. Hoium added the game will have throwback promotions, too.
“We’re going to try to throw in some fun throwback promotion games from our beginnings,” Hoium said.
The RedHawks are set to have their official “25th Anniversary Night” on July 17, including a 25th anniversary T-shirt for the first 1,000 fans. Hoium said the evening should have a nostalgic feel.
“I’m sure we’ll have at least a speaker or two in a little pregame ceremony,” Hoium said. “I think it’s going to bring back a lot of memories. We’re hoping to invite back some former players and some former staff members. Just a night of history.”
Entertainment triple play
F-M is set to have three entertainment acts this summer, including Birdzerk! (June 23), the Inflatamaniacs (July 14) and Tyler’s Amazing Balancing Act (Aug. 12).
The Amazing Tyler performed at Newman Outdoor Field during the 2019 season and has also made multiple television appearances. He can balance a ladder on his chin among other unique items.
“What he can do is very unique,” Hoium said.
Birdzerk! Is self-described as “America’s Ballpark Prankster.” The Inflatamaniacs is an ensemble of inflatable characters.
“From a fan perspective, I think the excitement is there,” Hoium said. “The light is at the end of the tunnel of what we’ve all been going through the last year, last year and a half. … I think we can help bring that ‘normal’ back to people.”