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Pandemic Relief: Fans See Yard Goats For First Time Since '19

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Joe Amon
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Connecticut Public
Dunkin' Donuts Park stands ready to welcome back fans for the first home opener since 2019

The Yard Goats are back in Hartford.

“Today’s the first day that something kind of feels a little bit normal,” said Jason Behan, a fan of the team.

“Outside of a few people missing in the crowd, it feels like 2019 again.”

2019 was the last time minor league baseball was played in Hartford. COVID-19 claimed the Yard Goats’ 2020 season.

“We had tickets to opening day last year, but it got shutdown, so we’re back here today,” said Michael Lewis.

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Credit Joe Amon / Connecticut Public
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Connecticut Public
Fans at the stadium must still stay masked and socially distanced.

A lot has changed in the 621 days since the Yard Goats last played at home. Fans now wear masks and have to keep away from people they didn’t buy tickets with. Despite a new normal, Marc Perez, Lewis’ brother-in-law, said he jumped on the opportunity to buy tickets.

“It’s something to get used to, but it’s good to be back in the stadium, back here celebrating the Goats and just being back with the people I love being around,” Perez said.

The last year’s been tough on Barbara Breu. She’s been cooped up in the house. But now, the season ticket holder is back in her element.

“I’ve always loved the look of a baseball field under the lights so this is just magnificent,” Breu said.

While she loves it now, she’ll be a little apprehensive when there are less restrictions on capacity. 3,021 people were let in to Dunkin’ Donuts Park Tuesday night – half of what it would normally hold.

“I’m a little bit more worried, but I’m older and have some underlying health conditions,” Breu said.

“If you look around right now, there are a very large number of people without masks on and so, I’m a little bit more concerned and I’ll have to see how my comfort level goes over the next weeks.”

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Credit Joe Amon / Connecticut Public
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Connecticut Public

Next week, attendance won’t be limited by the state. Connecticut lifts COVID-19 restrictions on businesses on May 19.

Attendees will still be required to wear masks.

Count Tuesday’s re-open as a success – at least in the record books. The Yard Goats slugged past Portland 8-4.

If you read any of Frankie Graziano’s previous biographies, they’d be all about his passion for sports. But times change – and he’s a family man now.
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