Tomorrow marks opening day for United Shore Professional Baseball League season

DSC_0194United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL), metro Detroit’s first independent professional baseball league, will open its second season at 7:05 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday, May 11, at Jimmy John’s Field in downtown Utica. The Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers will face the hometown favorite, and reigning champion, Utica Unicorns. Games will be played every Thursday through Sunday until Sept. 10, 2017.

New team
Fans can expect an array of new and exciting sights, sounds and scents in 2017. For starters, the league has added a fourth team to the roster. The Westside WoollyIMG_4223 Mammoths will battle it out with the Utica Unicorns, Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers and Eastside Diamond Hoppers for this year’s pennant.

New ballpark features
The league is adding new outdoor bars to its three picnic patio areas (Right Field Patio, Left Field Patio and Chevrolet Pavilion). The full-service bars will feature fountain soda, draft beer, and TVs to catch all the latest scores. The league also is adding a new stage beyond the right centerfield wall to showcase the many bands that play at the ballpark throughout the season.

New food
The league has hired new executive head chef Joseph Johnson – most recently from The Inn at Stonecliffe on Mackinac Island and The Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth. Joining him is David Parker, the league’s new director of food and beverage, who brings considerable experience via the Montgomery Biscuits (AA affiliate team of the Tampa Bay Ray’s), Lansing Lugnuts and The Great Lakes Loons. Also new to the food and beverage staff is Nathan Liska, assistant director of food and beverage. Liska was formerly a chef at Andiamo restaurant and the Tiger Den in Comerica Park.

The new staff has made significant changes to the type and quality of food that will be served at Jimmy John’s Field during the 2017 season. Fans can expect a lot more cooked-to-order foods made with fresh ingredients—the league is even planting its own herb garden to use in its recipes. The USPBL also hired a barbecue pitmaster and will be serving fresh, smoked-on-site barbecue favorites such as pulled pork, wings, ribs and chicken. Fans will also be able to enjoy such wide-varying fare as: Philly cheese steak nachos, foot-long hot dogs and sausages, garlic fries and more. Additionally, fans will be able to enjoy Chick-fil-A on Thursday nights and

Lou & Harry’s, an East Lansing institution, on Friday nights.

Night photo of JJF

New promotions
The USPBL is all about affordable family fun and has lined up an exciting season of promotional game days and nights, including:

  • The Human Cannon Ball
  • World-famous Team Ghost Riders (the cowboy monkeys who performed at the inaugural Opening Day in 2016)
  • Helicopter candy drops for kids
  • The Zooperstars
  • America’s Got Talent’s Quick Change
  • Jake the Diamond Dog
  • Jimmy Buffett Night
  • Star Wars Night
  • Peanut-Free Night
  • Family Campout Night
  • WCSX Classic Rock Saturdays
  • WYCD Country Music Nights
  • Heritage Nights to honor the German, Greek, Irish, Italian and Polish communities
  • Bobblehead, hat and T-shirt giveaways
  • Firework spectaculars every Friday night
  • Kids run the bases after every game.

A complete list of promotions and dates can be found at uspbl.com/promotions.

Tickets are affordably priced and start at just $12 in the grandstand and $6 for lawn. Tickets can be purchased at the box office at Jimmy John’s Field or online at uspbl.com/tickets. Parking is free.

Dana Schmitt is chief operating officer for the USPBL.

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