West Virginia Power baseball team begins 10th season

Appalachian Power Park Head Grounds Keeper Brent Szarka, does what grounds keepers do the day before opening day, cuts the grass one more time before the season debut. Things were were coming together Tuesday as the finishing touches were put on Charleston ballpark. Bob Wojcieszak/Daily Mail
Tracy Koenig and Steve Davis of Reaford Signs hang signs on the Appalachian Power Park score board Tuesday afternoon as they and others were getting the ballpark ready for opening day. Bob Wojcieszak/Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When the gates open Thursday night at Appalachian Power Park, the West Virginia Power will make its 2014 home debut for its 10th season in Charleston. Fans can expect to see a few new features at the ballpark today, and a season filled with special promotions and fireworks to celebrate the Power’s milestone.

Adam Marco, director of marketing and media for the West Virginia Power, said the organization will not only celebrate the Power’s nine-year history in Charleston. It will also pay homage to the other minor league teams that have come and gone over the past 105 years.

“Any baseball season is a chance to do some fun things,” Marco said, “and this year is a nice compilation of paying tribute to Appalachian Power Park and remembering the history of Charleston baseball.”

The first thing guests will notice when they arrive to the park is less time standing in line to enter the park and get their pre-game snacks and drinks. A new point-of-sale system was installed over the offseason that will speed up credit card transactions and help Power staff have a better indication of what concessions and souvenirs are most popular among fans.

“Once our cashiers and customer service representatives get comfortable using this system, it will make the transactions run more smoothly,” Marco said. “It’s a one-stop place. You don’t have to go to another place to swipe the credit card. It will expedite orders from the window to the kitchen.”

Marco also said several upgrades and renovations were done as part of routine maintenance throughout the offseason that fans wouldn’t necessarily notice. A new “batter’s eye,” — a large wall beyond the center field fence that helps batters see the ball better — was installed, and the netting around the backstop that protects fans from foul balls was replaced.

There will also be a new option for groups attending Power games. The “Party Plank” can be rented by groups of up to 10 people and includes game admission, pizza, wings, water, soda, beer and access to an HDTV for $350.

The Power has unveiled a special 10th anniversary logo, which will be seen throughout the ballpark and on promotional merchandise throughout the season. Tonight, blankets with the special logo will be given to the first 1,000 fans and schedule magnets will be given to the first 2,500 fans.

On April 26, two new names will be added to the Charleston Baseball Wall of Fame in a special pregame ceremony at 6:30 p.m.

The new inductees include Watt Powell, a former professional baseball player who helped build Kanawha Park, then Watt Powell Park after Kanawha Park burned down in 1947. Powell passed away two months before the park named for him opened in 1949.

Marco said without Powell, “there may not have ever been a Charlies, or a Wheelers, or an Alley Cats.”

Omar Moreno, a Charlies outfielder in the 1970s who was a catalyst on the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates World Series team, was also voted onto the Wall of Fame by fans. Marco said Moreno will be at Appalachian Power Park on April 26 for the ceremony.

The season will also feature 17 fireworks shows, two “Bark in the Park” games where fans can bring their dogs to the ballpark, and a 100-bike giveaway to kids 12 and under on June 14 in celebration of Power mascot Chuck’s birthday.

Tickets for the Power’s home opener tonight against the Lexington Legends can be ordered at the gate, online at wvpower.com or by calling the Power box office at 304-344-2287. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Contact writer Marcus Constantino at 304-348-1796 or marcus.c@dailymailwv.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/amtino.

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