‘The unknown’: Whitecaps home opener put on hold

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The West Michigan Whitecaps were supposed to be hosting opening day and the beginning of their 27th season Thursday at Fifth Third Ballpark.

Instead, the ballpark that has long served as West Michigan’s community summer gathering spot stood empty and silent.

“It’s really tough,” Whitecaps Vice President and General Manager Jim Jarecki told News 8, “because really what the Whitecaps are, we’re the beacon for the community.”

For the previous 26 years, opening day has marked the unofficial start of spring. The Whitecaps’ home opener had been postponed a few times by rain or even snow, but never indefinitely and never by anything like the closures aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.

“We’ve always known a date that we would come back,” Jarecki said. “Even after the 9/11 tragedy, after the fire at the ballpark (in 2014), we knew we were going to play on a set date. And now just the unknown is the hard thing because there’s no targeted date and we just don’t know when it’s going to be safe to come back out.”

But there is hope of brighter, louder and physically closer days ahead.

“We’re right there with you,” said Dan Hasty, the voice of the Whitecaps. “I think we miss baseball just as much (as the fans).”

The first big community celebration could be held at the park sometime in the summer.

“I know we’re going have the ballpark ready to go and that’s what we want people to do, come to enjoy and get back to the normal,” Jarecki said.

The lingering question that no one really has the answer to is when that might be.