From Tim Tebow’s arrival to the team contending for a division title, it’s already been a big year for the Columbia Fireflies.
It will continue this week as the organization hosts the South Atlantic League All-Star Game festivities Monday and Tuesday at Spirit Communications Park.
“It is great for fans and those coming in out of town to see what kind of gem we have in Columbia,” Fireflies general manager John Katz said. “It has been a lot of work by a lot of people throughout Columbia. It is a great opportunity for us to showcase this venue. But it is really an opportunity for the Midlands to showcase itself.
“Columbia has so much going for it. This brings in folks that haven’t been to Columbia and shows them the ballpark and the vision for Bull Street.”
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Katz said hosting an all-star game was high on list on priorities when the team arrived last year, but thought it would have been too much to ask to host it in the team’s inaugural season.
Columbia hosted the SAL All-Star Game in 1992 when it was held at Capital City Stadium. The game featured former New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettite. Other current MLB all-stars to play included Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Madison Bumgarner and Andrew McCutchen. Hall of Famers Tom Glavine, Nolan Ryan, Ryne Sandberg and Steve Carlton also participated.
Aaron Judge, this year’s sensation for the New York Yankees, played in the 2014 game for Charleston.
But it is more than just a game that Katz and his team has been preparing for the past the year. On Monday, there is the Celebrities vs. Soldiers Softball Game and SAL Home Run Derby, which features league all-stars and high school players from the Palmetto State. Some of the celebrities include former Gamecock greats Marcus Lattimore and Alex English as well as former Atlanta Braves slugger Ryan Klesko.
There also will be activities throughout the Midlands for players, their families, SAL staff members and people in town for the game. There will be a golf tournament, brewery tastings, tubing on the Congaree River and an outing at Riverbanks Zoo. Monday night’s festivities will conclude with an after-party in the Vista.
“We’ve had a group of people working on this for the past nine months to make sure it is a Midlands experience and not just a Fireflies experience,” Katz said. “This is really a spotlight on our community.”
On Tuesday, there will be a fan fest at Spirit Communications Park from 3-6 p.m. followed by the game at 7:05 p.m. Fireworks will be held after the game.
Note: Chapin’s Brandon White has been added to the roster of the Southern Division All-Star team. White is a relief pitcher for the Rome Braves and is 1-0 with a 1.67 ERA and eight saves this season.
5 p.m. – Gates open
6:15 p.m. – Celebrities vs. Soldiers Softball Game
7:30 p.m. – SAL Home Run Derby
3-6 p.m. – All-Star Fan Fest
7:05 p.m. – SAL All-Star Game
Ticket can be purchased at FirefliesTickets.com, the Spirit Communications Park ticket office or call (803) 726-4487 for more information.