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Yard Goats Opener Was One For The Fans

Ryan Caron King
Hartford's Minor League Baseball team made its debut at its new stadium in front of a sellout crowd Thursday.

After 65 years, professional baseball made its return to Hartford Thursday, as the Yard Goats hosted -- and lost to -- the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

The Yard Goats played ball in their brand-new stadium downtown 371 days after they were first supposed to. The celebration of baseball’s return to Hartford included 13 ceremonial first pitches thrown, a few hundred fireworks shells that exploded, over 8,000 fans, and one goat -- Fancy Pants, one of the team’s mascots.

But there was also a man dressed up as a goat. Anthony Garcia, 36, wore hooves, a pair of furry goat legs, brown grease paint on his face, and a set of horns on his head.

"The most difficult part is the makeup—putting on grease paint followed with the prosthetic hat and the horns. And then you glue that all to your face," Garcia said.  "That takes about a half of an hour. The rest of the get-up is easy—you just slip it on and then you go."

Opening day tickets were sold out shortly after they went on sale, but on Thursday, the team released some standing room only tickets. The Yard Goats s those tickets sold out, too. West Hartford’s John Wenz wanted to see the game with his son, but he didn’t have tickets. So he hit the secondary market.

“Well, I dragged my feet a bit. I had to bite the bullet and buy tickets from StubHub a week ago,” which Wenz said cost $62 per ticket.

The most expensive seats are normally $16, but Wenz was okay with overpaying because he said he had to bring his 13-year-old son to witness the first game at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.

"History. And the best minor league ballpark in the country," he said.  "This is it baby."

The Yard Goats didn’t win the game. They fell to 3-5 on the season with a 7-2 loss to the Fisher Cats. But, for a city looking for an emotional win, the season opener fit the bill.

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.

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