MEMPHIS. Tenn. - - It'll be a night like no other. The Memphis Redbirds have their home opener tonight, and Penny Hardaway is throwing out the first pitch.
It'll be a good show with a packed ballpark, largely thanks to a promotion several weeks when a chunk of tickets were only a penny. It was a nod to Hardaway becoming the Tigers' basketball coach
"We thought we'd have a little fun with it," Redbirds President and General Manager Craig Unger says, "And we sort of allotted just a couple thousand tickets and within a couple hours we were putting more tickets out and more tickets out and ended up with almost 6,000 tickets sold as part of that promotion."
The game might sell out. The first 1,500 people through the door will get a pennant. It's a miniature version of the Pacific Coast League Championship flag the team will raise before the game, to celebrate last season's title.
"That was really a once in a lifetime experience where the team set a record in the number of wins," Unger says.
The Redbirds are 4-1 this year with 40 runs scored over the course of their victories. The goal this season is to win it all again.
"We've got a really good team. We've got a lot of great guys here, a lot of guys who played last year that are coming back this year. So, we got all the makings and Stubby's back as our manager. So, things look good right now," Unger says.
The team squares off against the Omaha Storm Chasers tonight, with some out-of-towners in attendance. That includes Bart Wilhelm, who's been to 255 ballparks across the country. He says there's nothing like an opening night.
"Just a little more, a little more fanfare to it. It just seems like a special event," he says.
On top of everything, it's $1 hot dog night with $2 beers all night long.