It will be a regular Three Rivers Conference baseball game between Manchester and Whitko Wednesday, but the atmosphere will be anything but ordinary.
Instead of playing the TRC contest in South Whitley, the teams will take the game on the road, playing at Parkview Field in Fort Wayne, the home of the Fort Wayne TinCaps.
“It’s going to be a good experience for the kids,” Whitko baseball coach Erik Hisner said. “I had a chance to play at Victory Field (in Fort Wayne) during my junior year in college, and that was a neat experience. We don’t have any professional talent on our team, so it will probably be the only chance they get to play in a professional setting. I think they’ll have a blast with it.”
Along with the game being played on the same field of the San Diego Padres’ Class A affiliate, it will also feature the TinCaps game announcer, players’ photos being used on the video board and will be televised on Xfinity television and broadcast on The Fan 1380 in Fort Wayne.
“They're treating it as if it’s a TinCaps game,” Manchester Athletic Director Jeremy Markham said. “It’s being broadcast on TV there and on the radio with their people. It’s just going to be a great experience and something our kids will remember, win or lose.”
The Parkview Sports Medicine Baseball Series is a joint effort between Parkview Field and SportONE, which supplies athletic trainers in the Fort Wayne area.
The series features 14 games on seven different days between April 22 and May 16.
Looking to attract Fort Wayne-area baseball teams, e-mails were sent out to prospective schools, and once Whitko Athletic Director Casey Stouffer received his, he got right to work on getting the Wildcats involved.
“It was a first-come, first-serve kind of thing, so within a day, I was on it,” Stouffer said. “I got with Manchester, and they were OK with it, because it was our home game. Once they said they didn’t have a problem with it, we jumped on it.”
Like Stouffer, Markham didn’t need to think too much about what to do after getting the invitation.
“It was pretty much a no-brainer,” Markham said. “If we could make it work, we thought it would be a great experience for our student-athletes. I know coach (Jack) Rupley was all on board, because he just wanted to experience thay type of ballpark and setting.”
Tickets for the game are $5 and may be purchased at the Parkview box office on the day of the game or at each school beforehand.
Of the $5, Parkview will keep $1 from each ticket, then distribute the rest of the money to that day’s participating schools.
If bought at the box office, the $4 will be split between the participating four schools of the day, as Norwell and Adams Central play at 5 p.m. Wednesday, followed by Manchester and Whitko at 7 p.m.
However, the schools will also pre-sell tickets, and the $4 from those tickets will go to the school in which it was purchased from.
Whitko tickets, which are the color blue, will be sold at any Whitko Community school, and red Manchester tickets may be purchased at the high school's athletic office or from a baseball player.
“We’re better if we have our fans buying (the tickets) from us, because more money goes back to Whitko that way,” Stouffer said.
Regardless of how the fans get the tickets, everyone involved seems to believe it will be a memorable night, especially with it being a 7 p.m. game.
“I think playing a 7 will just add a little more to the experience,” Hisner said. “Playing under a professional lighting system will be a pretty cool thing. It’ll feel a little more like a professional game being under the lights.”
“I don't think there really are any negatives,” Stouffer said. “It will be a chance for our athletes to play on a professional-level field and I think there will be a larger crowd.”