Volume 93, Issue 5
Friday, June 11, 1999
Howling good time at the Werewolves opener
RAISE YOUR HANDS IF YOU'RE SURE. Werewolves batter Willie Edwards (24) feels the cool breeze blow by his arms as a pitch gets a little to close for comfort in a game against the Chillicothe Paints on Tuesday.
Saturday night there was a full moon over Labatt Memorial Park as the London Werewolves prowled the field for the first time.
It has been five years since professional baseball has been in London and the Werewolves came in with a bang.
I walked around the main gates for a little while when the general public entered the park and was amazed at what the Werewolves had to offer. The instant people entered they were met with a picnic area, concessions and an array of entertainment which included jugglers and a town crier.
As I stood there taking it all in, I was approached by two men wearing Kalamazoo Kodiaks shirts (the city that lost the team to London). Fans Kelly Martin and Greg Blair had made the trip from Michigan to London to watch the first game.
"The facility is great," Martin said. "When you walk in everything is there, they are really prepared and the people are very friendly."
Blair added they were disappointed to lose the franchise but were glad to see it come to London.
Martin heaped praise on Werewolves general manager John Kuhn and the players. "John will give a lot of entertainment," he said. "It is fun and affordable with a great atmosphere. The players are good quality and they are kids playing for the love of the game."
After leaving the entrance, I walked onto the field to talk with a few players to get their thoughts on the home opener.
"It is pretty exciting," said Matt Kuseski, Werewolves second baseman. "We have a really good crowd, the park is great and the people are nice and friendly."
Field manager Andy McCauley added the schedule the team plays can be taxing. "The schedule takes it's toll on the players," he said. "But these guys are happy to play."
Pitcher Eric Jackson could not wait for the game to start. "We are set to go," he said. "I'm just ready to play."
After talking to the players I strolled up to watch the action. The game soon started after the opening ceremonies which included the town crier decreeing the game underway.
From pitcher Bret Gray's first pitch, the crowd was alive. When Kuseski made the first out of the game, the fans reacted like it was the last out of the World Series.
Throughout the evening, there were numerous giveaways and prizes but the highlight of the night came when Cameron "Super Fan" Hughes surprised the crowd with his fourth inning antics. Hughes danced around the stands throwing free T-shirts to the fans and lead the crowd in many a cheer.
The fans erupted again in the seventh inning when outfielder Jason Borghese hit the first home run in Werewolves history. The fans remained in the game, enthusiastic throughout, even when their team lost 6-3.
At the end of the night there were fireworks for the crowd and the kids were allowed on the field to mingle with players and get some autographs.
Borghese said he thought it was a great idea to let the fans onto the field. "It is a good feeling to have kids calling your name and wanting your autograph," he said.
When asked about hitting the first home run in Wolves history and the atmosphere of the game, he said the whole night was incredible. "I had my family and friends here and to hit the home run was really special," he said. The atmosphere was great and the fans were very supportive."
Kuhn said he just hoped everyone had a good time. "I liked the stuff that was going on," he said. "It was a fair show, we will do better."
The night was a success off the field, even though the Wolves lost on the field. Attendance was 4,757 and everyone seemed to have fun. The Werewolves players and staff made a great first impression on the city and hopefully they will continue to get support throughout the season.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999