ARCATA – On Humboldt State graduation weekend, while most of the U-Haul trucks in Humboldt County were helping students vacate their dorm rooms en masse, one them was helping someone move in.
Out of that truck came the tents, the fences, the signs, the barbecues, and yes, the beer coolers, that the Humboldt Crabs will need as they begin their 71st consecutive season this Saturday, against their traditional opening weekend opponent, the Fairfield Indians.
Of course, for the truly hardcore fans, the season doesn’t start on the field Saturday night against the Indians; it starts the night before at the Arcata Community Center, where the Crabs will hold their season-opening fundraiser dinner. But after that, it’s all baseball.
This season’s schedule brings a mix of familiar names and new opponents. Two weeks into the season, the Seattle Studs of the West Coast League visit Arcata for the third time in four years. The Crabs also face their rivals from over State Route 299, the Redding Colt 45s, in a pair of three-game sets this season, one in the cool confines of the Arcata Ball Park, and one in the not-so-cool confines of the newly renovated Tiger Field in Redding.
The Crabs will also be renewing an old rivalry with the Corvallis Knights, although if you want to see those games, you’ll have to hit the road, as they’re playing up in Oregon on June 30 and July 1.
One major difference to this year’s schedule is that the Crabs are hosting an end-of-season tournament. Without the playoff system that came with a league affiliation, the team was looking for another way to put an exclamation point on their season, so say hello to the inaugural Humboldt Invitational Tournament.
The four-day tournament will run from July 30 through Aug. 2, and will feature the Crabs, the Solano Mudcats, the Auburn Wildcats and the Pacific Union Capitalists, aka the PufCaps. The Mudcats and Wildcats will also be coming up earlier in the year, but the tournament will be the PuffCaps’ only appearance in Humboldt this summer. And in case you forgot, the PuffCaps swept a two-game series from the Crabs in 2014.
The roster is made up of players from up and down the West Coast. Only one player returns from 2014, Gonzaga University’s Beau Bozett. Bozett hit .311 for the Crabs last year, and was particularly hot in the final weeks of the season. But he won’t be the only familiar face to local fans. Two members of this year’s College of the Redwoods team will also don the Crabs’ red, white and blue: Donald Robinson and Tyler Keil.
For the Corsairs, Robinson was a force both as a hitter and as a pitcher. In 34 games, he hit .372 in the box, and sported a 1.93 ERA on the mound, striking out 52 batters in just over 60 innings. Keil hit .297 in 35 games, and was a perfect 10-for-10 on stolen base attempts.
Of course, it’s not just what’s going on between the lines that makes the Humboldt Crabs Baseball experience the great time it is. And once again, there’s a great slate of promotions and special events on tap in 2015. There are the fan favorites – Pirate Night, ’80s Night, Tie-Dye Night and Cowboy Night – and a host of other fun events. Not least among these, on the heels of its overwhelming success last year, is Fireworks Night on July 25. Half an hour after the game, rockets will shoot off from a platform in center field. That game will likely sell out, so make sure you get there early.
The full schedule and list of special events is available at humboldtcrabs.com. [Note: A clip-and-save version appears on page C2 of this edition of the Union – Ed.] Information on buying game tickets and opening dinner tickets can be found online as well. The dinner is Friday night, May 29 beginning with a social hour at 6 p.m. Tickets must be bought in advance as they will not be sold at the door. First pitch Saturday, May 30 is at 7 p.m. See you at the ballpark!