PITTSFIELD -- It’s Emmett Esko’s first baseball opening day.
"I’m a really big fan," said the 8-year-old from Dalton. "I play it, too. It’s really exciting."
Esko walked away from his father, Mark, to exchange high-fives with the 2014 Pittsfield Suns players as they left their locker room to head for the field at Wahconah Park. Maybe some day, Emmett Esko might get to play here.
"He’s been a baseball fan since he was 9 months old," Esko’s father said with a laugh. "I’d say at 9 months old, he was hitting a wiffle ball."
The Eskos were part of the opening-night crowd for the third year of the Suns at Wahconah Park.
The pregame festivities included live music from the Mike and Mike Band, which performed on the concourse outside of the Suns locker room.
The Goldklang Group, owners of the Suns along with several other minor-league teams, was in full force. Marvin Goldklang, his son Jeff and Tyler Tuminia were here to welcome manager Tom Conley and his players.
The team may be called the Suns, but opening night was anything but sunny. Clouds hovered over Wahconah Park, but that didn’t seem to put a damper on anyone’s good feelings about the start of another Futures League season.
"Every opening day is special, but Pittsfield, doubly so," said Jeff Goldklang. "Our hearts are in the Berkshires.
"This is now the third year we’ve done it. I think I’ve become a little more nervous in some ways. Between the lines, I’m more nervous. Outside the lines, I’m less nervous because we have an experienced staff and expect the same entertainment factor."
Lou Markham, of Pittsfield, is here for another opening day, and said he couldn’t wait for Friday night to come.
"It’s great for the city of Pittsfield. It’s nice to see that baseball is back here," said Markham. "It’s nice to see a bunch of college kids act, and play for the love of the game, to improve their game and perhaps to move to a higher level."
The crowd was a little thin when the gates opened at 5 p.m., but as is a Wahconah Park tradition, the crowd grew as the hour of the game grew closer.
Jay Anderson, president of the Pittsfield Co-op Bank, and Mayor Daniel M. Bianchi, threw out the ceremonial first pitches.
"It was my first throw since last year," Anderson said. "It was too high. We have to get it down a little."
And as Suns general manager Kevin McGuire said, both throws were better than the one rap star 50 Cent made at a Mets game.
"Absolutely right," said Anderson. "I know where home plate is."
Joanne Hayes, of Pittsfield, was attending with the Berkshire Community College OLLI group, and while not a regular at Suns games, was happy to be in attendance.
"It’s fun. I love it here. I wish they had a better night," she said. "I like hot dogs. I like beer. I like baseball. What could be better?"
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