Morning dew glistens on the freshly cut grass of the Duck Pond in Madison. A light humid breeze foreshadows a scorcher of a Spring day. Mallards staff are scrambling around making every last preparation so that the new season will indeed be a fresh start as the Mallards embark on another campaign. Everything feels new. It’s the smell of the fresh grass that does it, really.
Wait. That was last year.
Blizzard snow, slush and freezing rain still covered the Duck Pond just over a week before the Mallards are set to host fans for the Ballpark Bash at 9am on Saturday, April 28.
Single game tickets go on that morning and the Mallards want to reward fans for coming out to support the team as it enters its 19th season.
“We’re going to make a big deal about tickets going on sale,” Mallards General Manager Tyler Isham said. “We’ll have a hot dog and a soda for free for anyone and beer for purchase. We are going to have some of our kids games and have our inflatables out there to celebrate tickets going on sale.”
Isham said that this years team is going to have a slightly different look than in recent years. The Mallards have gone after players from smaller colleges and programs in hopes of having a fuller roster at the start of the season. In years past, the Mallards have had big school players on the roster who were still playing their college season when Mallards games started.
Isham felt the dynamic of having several players joining the team late could be a distraction to team chemistry. Following a 38-34 campaign in 2017, the Mallards are trying to build the strongest team possible.
As always, Isham has prospects he’s really excited about. Outfielder Drew Campbell of Louisville will join the team along with returning standouts such as David Vinsky and pitcher Ryan Schmidt.
“We’ve got a ton of talent,” Isham told Madison365. “We kind of had a philosophy change and we recruited a lot more players from smaller schools in hopes of getting our roster here earlier. The big school players are still in the College World Series and so we diversified our roster a little bit to get people here opening day.”
On June 8, the Mallards will have Chris Farley bobblehead night presented by Dentistry for Madison’s Dr.Jay Hazen.
The Mallards will also host actor Chauncey Leonardi, who played the character “Squints” in the film The Sandlot.
There will be a brand new promotional schedule unique to the Duck Line, which the team has never done before. They will feature a different local brewery on Wednesday nights. On Saturdays they will feature various DJs. A butter beer night and Harry Potter night are also on tap!
As for the smell of fresh grass and a warm spring breeze? We’ll have to see.
“Let’s get all the snow melted and get started,” Isham said. “We’re kicking it into high gear as we wind down the offseason.”
The Ballpark Bash is open to the public at the Duck Pond at 9am on April 28.