Jul. 3—TRAVERSE CITY — Fireworks were plentiful at Turtle Creek Stadium, just not in the form of home runs.
For the first time this weekend and the second time this season the Traverse City Pit Spitters brought back a fan favorite from their first season in 2019 — Firework Fridays.
With the technical help of Great Lakes Fireworks, fireworks filled the air after the Pit Spitters’ 5-4 loss to the Kenosha Kingfish in extra innings Friday at Turtle Creek Stadium. The team didn’t have fireworks last year when only 500 fans were permitted to attend games.
Pit Spitters general manager Mickey Graham said fireworks nights are such a big part of baseball season.
“Those are the ones people circle on the calendar as soon as they get it,” Graham said.
That certainly showed. The Spitters hosted a season-high attendance of 2,719 fans, more than double their season average of 1,228.
For the Spitters season opener, only 25 percent of the stadium’s capacity was allowed before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration lifted restrictions on outdoor gatherings effective the next game.
The team added a firework night June 18 when the stadium could return to full capacity.
“We started with just two dates of fireworks on our initial promotions schedule, as things started to open up we added some more,” Graham said. “They’re the most popular nights we do at the ballpark and their their the things that fans really look forward to, our staff really looks forward to and makes it a great night at the ballpark especially over Fourth of July weekend.”
Great Lakes Fireworks does all the technical work with the fireworks show, though the team assists in getting workers set up.
Graham said fireworks can create a mess on the field, depending on the way the wind blows.
That was the case the day after fireworks at Traverse City St. Francis’ graduation at Turtle Creek Stadium on a night the wind was blowing in. The following day team staff members spent several hours picking up firework shells from the infield.
The Spitters have fireworks for their home game Saturday, then July 16 and 23.
“Win or lose, a fireworks show at a Pit Spitters game is a great way to end the night,” Graham said.
TC loses early lead
Traverse City scored two runs in the first inning but failed to hold onto the lead in a 5-4 loss to the Kenosha Kingfish in extras Friday night at Turtle Creek Stadium.
The Pit Spitters scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game at four. The Kingfish scored at the top of the tenth and held onto the lead despite two Spitters pitching changes.
John Beuckelaere (1-1) took the loss.
The Pit Spitters (21-13) now just hold a one-game lead over the Kingfish (18-13). The two teams play again Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Follow Andrew Rosenthal on Twitter @ByAndrewR