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Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp: Steppin' Up to the Plate, Home Opener April 11

At Shrimp & Suds Craft Beer Fest in March.
(Yes, the coconut shrimp are back!) (photo by Linda Johnson)
April 9, 2018: The first official pitch at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville isn't until Wednesday, April 11, but the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp have already hosted Shrimp & Suds Craft Beer Fest and a media preview day at the ballpark with early looks at the team, the field, and new menu items for 2018.

Baseball season is underway, both on the major and minor league schedules, and the Jumbo Shrimp (AA Affiliate of the MLB Miami Marlins) take the field at 7:05pm Wednesday night to begin a five-game home-opening series against the Mobile BayBears. Last year's opening homestand, with an attendance of 41,276, was the highest-attended series in the ballpark's history. 




(photo by Linda Johnson)

At last week's media preview day, enthusiasm for the upcoming season was the prevailing theme. Manager Randy Ready believes that the team "should match up well with the teams in the Southern League," while acknowledging that "every season is challenging." There was also quite a bit of talk about the new ownership group of the Marlins, headed by Derek Jeter, with catch phrases like "there's new energy in the organization." Pitcher Nick Neidert, acquired in December in a trade with the Seattle Mariners, sees "a lot of opportunity over here." Outfielder Austin Dean, now in his third season in Jax, also gave credit to the local fans: "There are a lot of fans here, and the atmosphere in Jax is one of the greatest in the league." Further, he's optimistic that the Jumbo Shrimp will "have one of the better lineups in the Southern League."


Great day on the field!
The team assembled for its team photo, and then fielded questions from media. 


(photo by Linda Johnson)
Hitting coach Kevin Witt sees the composition of the team as a good combination of newcomers and existing players alike. Overall, it's a group of "good kids," and he "loves those guys who can do a little of everything." Witt's philosophy is to "develop players," from handling themselves on and off the field through "how we practice." He added, that by going about it the right way, "winning will take care of itself."


Kevin Witt looking forward to the season
(photo by Linda Johnson)

In addition to the upcoming season's activity on the field, the Jumbo Shrimp are also stepping up to the plate, literally, with new menu items available in the concession areas. And, be prepared, you'll have to be a "heavy hitter" for a few of these, and you may even want to dig in with a few friends.

Take the new "Duval Heavy Hitter," for example. It's a large concoction of crispy chicken tenders topped with fries, cheese, scallions and bacon bits, served in a replica batting helmet. That's a score right there (and be sure to grab some extra napkins).


Duval Heavy Hitter. (photo by Linda Johnson)
If marinara sauce is your thing, check out the Meatball Marinara Sub on a hoagie roll (yes, you'll need more napkins, as this one will have you licking your fingers, too). 


Meatball Marinara. (photo by Linda Johnson)
And, of course, there has to be shrimp, right? The coconut shrimp are back this year (see top photo), along with the new Shrimp and BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos, with fresh Mayport Shrimp, also served up in a helmet. You'll be running the bases for a home run with these food options!


Shrimp and BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos. (Photo by Linda Johnson)
For a real Southern experience, there are also Fried Pickles served with creamy ranch dressing. To top it all off, try the new Apple Pie Bites topped with powdered sugar, you know, for the win!

Back to baseball: the preview day also featured pitching and hitting practice:


Up close on the field. (photo by Linda Johnson)
Let's see a "swing and a miss!" (photo by Linda Johnson)
The venue is fan-friendly, and there's not a bad seat in the house -- along with plenty of seating options from individual stadium seats to the "Hot Corner" to the outfield Tiki Bar. 


Shrimp & Suds Craft Beer Fest on the mezzanine level with a view
(photo by Linda Johnson)

Yes, you'll need beverages to go along with those menu choices, and there are a number of liquid options on the roster, with craft beer (local and regional) and macro beer selections available. For a local flavor with the team theme, try the draft "Shrimp & Grit" Cerveza, by Bold City Brewery. It's a refreshing lighter, crisp Mexican-style lager sure to quench a thirst. As Kevin Miller, Bold City Brewery's Sales Manager, will attest, the beer is made with a "substantial" amount of corn -- Shrimp & Grit!


With Nate and Kevin of Bold City Brewery, at Shrimp & Suds:
Shrimp & Grit Cerveza is a line drive! 

You'll be signing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," as it promises to be another fun season at the home games at the Baseball Grounds. Lots of promotions all season long: 




And, don't forget your Shrimp gear:




Fans will notice the extended protective netting around the first and third baselines this year, but there's a clear view of all the action happening on the field. 


(photo by Linda Johnson)
Daytime or nighttime, root, root for the hometeam!


When the sun does down, the lights come on! (photo by Linda Johnson)



With affordable ticket prices, a range of seating options, a kids zone, great views all around, and food and beverage choices that round the bases, move your tails to the Jumbo Shrimp games this season! 

And, here are a few shrimp-bites: 

Last year's total attendance: 325,743. That's an increase of 61,342 from 2016 to 2017, which is the largest increase for a AA-ballpark from 2016 to 2017, and the second largest of any ballpark in domestic Minor League Baseball. 

Stadium seating: 6,042 seats; can accommodate over 11,000 with berm and bleacher seating.




420 feet: the longest distance between home plate and center field in the Southern League.

Stadium has the largest roof of any open-air venue in the minor leagues.

The home opener is Wednesday, April 11, at 7:05pm. 

Let's go Shrimpin'!

It's already been a fun few visits to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp field, and the season hasn't even started yet! See you at the ball game!

Til next time,
Cheers .... 





Linda



Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®
www.brewnymph.com

(all photos by Linda Johnson)

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