Batter up: Amarillo Sod Poodles host sold out home opener tonight

Before the first pitch, take a look at the journey that brought baseball back to Amarillo

Batter up: Amarillo Sod Poodles host sold out home opener tonight

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: The Amarillo Sod Poodles are hosting their sold out home opener this evening for the first game ever at Hodgetown.

You’ve been waiting for tonight for 37 years. Happy Opening Day, Amarillo. Can’t wait to show you our brand new home!

Posted by Amarillo Sod Poodles Professional Baseball on Monday, April 8, 2019

Tonight’s Sod Poodles home opener is years in the making.

The controversial vote for construction of the MPEV in downtown Amarillo, later named Hodgetown in recognition of Jerry Hodge, was approved in November of 2015.

NewsChannel 10 covered the breaking news three years ago at a watch party and spoke with former Mayor Paul Harpole:

THROWBACK

Here is a throwback from November 2015 when voters approved the downtown ballpark. After covering this controversial story for several years, it's surreal to see the Amarillo Sod Poodles throw their first pitch at home tonight in Hodgetown. Will you be at the game tonight? ⚾

Posted by Madison Alewel on Monday, April 8, 2019

“Amarillo, there have been critics, there’s been some sweat, there’s been some blood,” said Mayor Ginger Nelson at the groundbreaking. “But today we recognize those many citizens who have been on this team and who fit the description of those who dare greatly.”

After the groundbreaking, the reality of Amarillo baseball gained swift momentum.

One of the biggest Amarillo baseball stories that took the area by storm was regarding the team name.

“It’s going to be a team they are living with and their loving to come out and watch everyday at the ballpark and really it’s going to be the identity of Amarillo," said Tony Ensor, Amarillo Sod Poodles President and General Manager. "It’s the community baseball team and we want them to have a say in naming it.”

After the announcement, many Amarilloans called for the team to go back to the drawing board. Someone even started an online petition asking the team to choose five other finalists.

Despite a mixture of opinions ranging from anger to confusion to excitement, Amarillo Sod Poodles was chosen as the official name for the new baseball team in November of last year.

Sod Poodles is said to be a pioneer’s nickname for the “Prairie Dogs", a fun loving local animal that is very aggressive in protecting its family and home.

The name was a home run not only in our area, but in the nation when the Sod Poodles name was officially deemed the best in Minor League Baseball.

Along with finding the perfect team name, the organization has had a busy few months finding their team mascot, Ruckus, their team field manager and coaching staff for the season, and their official team broadcaster.

Last Thursday it was official: After a long three years, the Amarillo Sod Poodles hosted a public ribbon cutting, opening Hodgetown to the public.

Before their season opener, Team Manager Phillip Wellman expressed his optimism for this year’s inaugural season.

“If we play the way we played in spring training, I think we’ll be pretty exciting," said Wellman. "We have guys that can steal bases, I think we’ll hit some home runs, our starting pitching staff looks pretty solid. There’s a few of them that are top prospects in our organization, and then we have some that are returning that pitched in double a last year and had good years.”

On April 4 through the 7, the Sod Poodles dropped their first series on the road in Corpus Christi 3-1 to the Hooks.

The Soddies are back home tonight for their first game at Hodgetown which has been sold out. The team will take on the Midland Rockhounds with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Tonight’s game will surely be a hit with temperatures still in the 70s by the start of the game. To round out the perfect evening, there will be a firework show at the end of the game.

Play ball!

Happy Opening Night! Please be advised that HODGETOWN is a clear bag policy stadium. We will be holding a grace period...

Posted by Amarillo Sod Poodles Professional Baseball on Monday, April 8, 2019

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