Great FallsAaron Weissman’s Teriyaki Shop was featured in the Great Falls Tribune! Teriyaki Madness will be at Opening Night of the Great Falls Voyagers vs. the Helena Brewers. Read the story below!

Fun at the old ballpark begins Friday night in Great Falls

The roster of the Great Falls Voyagers has yet to be released, but the team is headed to town Wednesday night and preparations are well underway for its Pioneer League home opener Friday night against the Helena Brewers.

“Opening night’s going to be awesome,” said Voyagers’ general manager Scott Reasoner. “And of course we’ll have fireworks afterward.”

The return of professional baseball is always a sure sign of summer in Great Falls. Friday night’s promotion giveaways include refrigerator magnet schedules and wooden nickels redeemable at Ace Hardware.

The team is scheduled to fly in from the Chicago White Sox training facility in Phoenix about 6 p.m. Wednesday. An open practice at Centene Stadium is planned from 1-5 on Thursday afternoon, with fans welcome to watch and stay afterward to mingle with the team and obtain autographs.

Much is the same about the season, which features 76 games – first pitch at home is 7 weeknights and 4 on Sunday – but there are also some new wrinkles.

“We’ve got a brand-new two-story bounce house, with a slide and a basketball hoop inside,” Reasoner said. “It’s really cool for kids. If they haven’t been out and checked out our ‘Kids Zone,’ it’s a must-see. We also have a new concession item: Teriyaki Madness will be here at the stadium.”

And the old staples also return.

“We’ll have cold beer and hotdogs, don’t worry about that,” Reasoner smiled.

And not just domestic beers.

“We focus on all our craft brews available here in Montana, from Black Eagle Brewery to our Jeremiah Johnson stand on the third-base line to the popular Mighty Mo Bottoms Up,” Reasoner said. “And if you haven’t had our concessions before, come and try it out. We’re making things from scratch more and more every year.

“This year we’ve got home-made buffalo chicken dip in the third-base concession, and we make our mac and cheese from scratch every single day out here.”

He grinned.

“And you can put all that stuff on top of a hotdog if you’re really feeling adventurous,” Reasoner said.

The Voyager coaching staff, led by manager Tim Esmay, returns to the team after guiding last year’s club to the brink of the Pioneer championship. Great Falls lost in the final game of the 2017 season as the Ogden Raptors won the pennant.

The team has special events every night of the summer at Centene.

“We have more than 12 different giveaways this year, everything from hats, baseballs to virtual reality goggles,” Reasoner said.

The Great Falls Baseball Club, under the direction of president Vinney Purpura, also has a popular nonprofit-of-the-night promotion. On select nights at the ballpark nonprofit organizations sell game and 50-50 tickets and earn a portion of the proceeds.

“One of those nights we’re really excited about is for the Heisey Youth Center on Wednesday, July 11,” Reasoner said. “That’s ‘Sandlot Night.’ We’re going to do the ‘Sandlot’ movie after the game. Everyone can bring their blankets and sit on the field after the game and watch the movie. That’s something we’ve never done here at the stadium.

“We’ve got a big inflatable screen for it and they’ll be setting it up right on the field. It will be a ton of fun.”

Last year was the Voyagers’ first that targeted nonprofit organizations.

“Our goal this year is $50,000 in cash donations to local charities raised here throughout the summer,” Reasoner said. “We’ll also be the first ones in the state of Montana to have digital 50-50 available, so credit cards can be used for 50-50 tickets.”

The Voyagers also plan special nights to benefit local youth organizations, including Little League baseball factions in Great Falls.

“Opening Night is Americans Little League, and we also have Westside and Riverside, plus an American Legion Night,” Reasoner said. “If you want to come and support local sports, find the nights on our website. Those dates are on our pocket schedules as well.”

All Voyager games will again be live on the radio at AM-1400 Fox Sports, with veteran play-by-play man Shawn Tiemann at the microphone.

“He is by far the best in the league and as good as you’ll ever hear in minor league baseball,” Reasoner said. “We are beyond fortunate that he’s back here again.”

The Voyagers have three more years remaining on their player-development contract with the Chicago White Sox.

                     
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