BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Birmingham Barons are opening their baseball season on Tuesday evening at home.
For Birmingham Barons pitcher John Parke, returning to Regions Field was going to be special because of his family ties.
“My mom actually went to Ensley High School,” says Parke, who will pitch his first game of the season on Saturday. “My uncle still lives here, so I grew up coming to Birmingham.”
Parke and other players who spoke the day before the Barons season opener say they are grateful for the chance to suit up again. Despite staying in shape by playing with other minor leaguers and major leaguers in his hometown of Greenville, S.C., he says the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling last season was a humbling experience.
“At some point in our lives, every player’s told, you know, the game is taken away from them, and last year it felt like that because we had no certainty on anything. So for me personally, just getting to come to a ballpark on a Tuesday afternoon tomorrow and get to play this game for a living is definitely a new experience and something that I’m never going to take for granted again.”
Second baseman Mitch Roman said he looks forward to being back with his teammates, who he says are close as a team, fun to be around and comfortable being themselves. “I’m just thankful just to be able to be back here and in a great city, like Birmingham, with the community that supports the Barons the way they do.”
The Barons open the season at home against the Biloxi Shuckers at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday. Regions Field will be at half of its 8,500 seat capacity and masks and social distancing will still be required, at least for now.