Curve, EL stars shining

Our city has a chance to show off its support for the Altoona Curve and Eastern League baseball over the next two nights.

The Eastern League All-Star Game will take place Wednesday at Peoples Natural Gas Field. The last time the EL stars aligned here, eight years ago in 2006, they set a then-Blair County Ballpark record by drawing 9,308 fans.

PNG Field seats 7,210, but many games over the years have surpassed that number as the Curve can accommodate 3,000 more in standing-room areas around its spacious concourses. In fact, the team’s all-time attendance record was set for the March 2013 exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates as 10,116 turned out.

With the Curve having a subpar-season on the field this year – they limped into the all-star break in last place in the EL’s Western Division with a record of 37-61 – the all-star game clearly has a chance to mark the high moment of the season.

In addition to the main event on Wednesday, the Curve are hosting a charity softball game tonight against the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. You certainly don’t have to be a baseball fan to find the Wounded Warriors inspirational.

Curve legend Adam Hyzdu, whose No. 16 was retired by the team in 2000, is back in town to participate in tonight’s benefit along with former Pirate shortstop Jack Wilson and outfielder Tike Redman. All three played here during the Curve’s inaugural years, and their names are etched into franchise lore.

Their presence should help provide a fun preliminary before local fans get a chance to see and perhaps meet, through the pre-game autograph sessions, the Eastern League’s stars of today – Major League Baseball’s stars of tomorrow.

Over the last five years, more than half of the players in the Eastern League all-star game have advanced to the big leagues.

We congratulate the visiting all-stars and hope they enjoy their stay.