The Courier Post Reports: Riversharks return to Campbell's Field
CAMDEN — Even though the weather refuses to cooperate, spring has returned to the city.
We know that because the Camden Riversharks are back.
The familiar voice of public address announcer Kevin Casey, the great views of the Philadelphia skyline and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the cries of youthful delight from the right field fun zone and the left field carousel all add up to one thing.
“It’s Shark attack time,” as Casey belts out over the P.A. system.
The Riversharks opened their 13th home season of Atlantic League baseball on Tuesday night with a 10-8 10-inning loss to the Bridgeport Bluefish as a hardy crowd of more than 3,000 gathered at Campbell’s Field on a spring evening that was more reminiscent of a cold February night.
According to general manager Adam Lorber, 4,579 tickets were sold, but it wasn’t exactly baseball weather.
“We expect to have a good season in terms of ticket sales,” Lorber said. “I think people are in the habit of coming to Camden to be entertained, which wasn’t the case 13 years ago.”
When looking around the stadium, it’s evident that outside of the players on the roster, not much has changed around the quaint little ballpark that sits on the Camden Waterfront.
Casey, who has been announcing for the Riversharks since their inaugural season, believes stability is part of the charm of coming to the cozy setting.
“Part of what is great about coming out here is a lot of things haven’t changed,” he said. “There’s still the beautiful views, there’s still the beautiful stadium, there’s still the minor league atmosphere, and some of that stability is what’s really unique about this. It’s what makes it fun.”
On Tuesday night, there were a number of carnival games set up in the lobby with proceeds going to the victims of Superstorm Sandy. Want an animal balloon? There’s a guy folding them on the concourse.
Look on the first-base side, there’s a group of kids participating in the Wawa hoagie Tug of War. Down the third-base line two guys wearing sumo wrestling suits are banging bellies. Not only that, it was dollar hot dog night, and the evening was capped by the first fireworks display of the season.
We’ve come a long way,” Lorber said. “We have some neat things going on this year. I’ve seen a lot of growth in the organization, whether it’s what we do with the community, or what we do on the field.”
The fans seemed to enjoy it all.
Cherry Hill residents Gary Allbee and Theresa Emstead bought season tickets for the first time this year. Although Allbee lives in Cherry Hill, he grew up watching the Cubs minor league team play in Iowa.
“She knew I was a big fan of minor league baseball because when I grew up, my uncle was fan of the year for the Iowa Cubs for like seven years running,” Allbee said.
“So I grew up on minor league baseball, so when we came here it just brought so many memories back. It’s one of the most beautiful parks I’ve been in, so you can’t beat it.”
According Allbee, he and Theresa first came to a Riversharks game in 2010, and they saw about 75 games last season.
“I knew he had talked about baseball,” said Theresa. “I’m not a big fan of the Phillies, so I said, ‘let’s do this Camden Riversharks thing.’ I didn’t know much about it, but we were hooked.”