Community members invited to celebrate 175 at Community Baseball and Softball events

Katie Thomas has been coming to Marietta College baseball and softball games for as long as she can remember.

But there are two dates she and her family look forward to most—Community Baseball Day (April 17) and Community Softball Day (April 10). Her children, Hannah, 12, and Peter, 8, won’t let her forget to mark the calendar each spring.

“They both love those days,” Katie says. “My daughter was the batgirl for softball the past four season and Peter’s hopes and dreams are to be a batboy for the baseball team one day. He idolizes the players, and what I like most is they take the time to teach him things. If you were at a bigger college the players probably don’t have the time for the little ones, but at Marietta any kid can go out and meet the players and they talk to them. That means so much to the children around here.”

Thomas also believes the baseball and softball events are a great way for the College to do something special for the people of the community.

“This helps bring in the whole community to see the College baseball and softball players,” she says. “A lot of people know what the baseball team has accomplished over the years, but this is a way to let them see how good the softball team is and what they are accomplishing.”

Community Baseball Day began in the spring of 1999 and has been going strong ever since. The idea started with former Marietta women’s basketball coach Annamarie Lang (formerly Annamarie Wyant), who was also an instructor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies.

“The idea for the Community Baseball Day was born from wanting to provide a course that would give students the opportunity to put their classroom learning into practice. In working with Charlie Fair (formerly the Chair of the Mass Media Department), we decided to combine the need to have a structured event allowing students the opportunity to practice sports marketing and public relations skills in a real community setting,” Lang says. “Of course the Marietta baseball team was a logical choice for this experiment because there was already grassroots support for such a well-established program. This set the students up for success because they were creating a sports marketing event around a known commodity.”

Lang says her expectations were low, but she quickly learned the class was gaining momentum.

“I was surprised in some ways and in others in awe at what the students achieved the first year. The community support through dollars and in-kind donations was incredible, the turn-out was fantastic, the students worked very hard to provide an excellent product and of course the one thing no one could control…the weather was perfect,” Lang says. “I think ultimately, I enjoyed it as much as the students did.”

Lang, who is a Senior Consultant-Leadership Solutions Group with Development Dimensions International, Inc., recently helped to re-create the idea at another university and it will be kicking off next spring.

This year there are 15 students in Marietta’s Sports Marketing course who have spent the semester getting sponsors and planning for third annual Community Softball Day and 12th annual Community Baseball Day. While some of the activities remain the same—free T-shirts, hot dogs and Pepsi products—some are new. All fans should remember that during the baseball doubleheader that any foul ball hit out of the ballpark is a free souvenir, thanks to former baseball player John Hefner ’85.

The class partnered with the College’s 175th anniversary committee to allow Marietta College to celebrate this milestone with the community. The groups have worked with Broughton Foods of Marietta, a full-line dairy distributing an expansive line of products including a wide variety of milks, Premium and Homestyle ice cream, novelty ice cream, juices and fruit drinks, cottage cheese, sour cream, and chip dip. Broughton is supplying Birthday Cake ice cream, which will be scooped out for free to help celebrate the College’s 175th birthday.

“The opportunity for Marietta College and the community to celebrate the milestone of a 175th anniversary together is one we didn’t want to miss and consecutive Saturdays with Pioneer softball and baseball seems a natural,” says Hub Burton, Associate Vice President of Alumni and College Relations. “We’re also very appreciative of the interest and partnership of Broughton’s, a long-time friend of the College and community as well and we should not overlook the fact that they’re celebrating a birthday of their own this year with their 100th so it promises to be a very special April indeed.”

More than 500 fans are expected for the softball game when the Pioneers take on Ohio Athletic Conference rival Ohio Northern. The gates at Marietta Field open at 11 a.m., as students from the class will begin handing out T-shirts and serving cotton candy. The students plan to start serving hot dogs and Pepsi around 12:30 p.m. and the first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. Ice cream will be hand dipped into bowls around 2:30 p.m. Admission is free.

The students are also pleased to welcome representatives from the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley to the April 10 event. Animals will be on hand for fans to meet, pet and potentially adopt.

“Community Softball Day is an event we really look forward to. It has clearly become one of the highlights of our season,” says softball coach Jeanne Arbuckle. “The array of activities associated with the event makes this a very special day. All the extra fanfare and special promotions really set this day apart from all the others.”

More than 1,000 fans should be in attendance for the Etta Express baseball game against OAC rival Heidelberg at Don Schaly Stadium. Gates open at 11 a.m. with the handing out of T-shirts and cotton candy. There will also be an Extreme T-Ball inflatable game for the children from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Like softball, hot dogs and Pepsi will be served around 12:30 p.m. and the first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. Ice cream will be hand dipped into bowls around 2:30 p.m. Admission is free.

“Community Baseball and Softball Day is a unique and meaningful hands-on experience for students. It has given me the opportunity to utilize the management, communication and fiscal principles I’ve acquired in my classes,” says Katie Oden ’10 (Twinsburg, Ohio). “There is a lot more planning that meets the eye, but judging from past Community Days, it is just as rewarding. Being a part of the Marietta Community has helped shape me as a person and it feels good to pay it forward.”

Click here to view photos from last year's Community Baseball Day.