Section 114, row 10, seat 10.
Since day one, 13 years ago, lifetime baseball fan Gary Kephart has sat in that seat. Thursday's season home opener was no exception.
With the smell of ballpark goodies in the April air and ballplayers taking to the field in their crisp uniforms, a large crowd took to their own seats inside the Peoples Natural Gas Field for opening day as the Altoona Curve went up against the Erie SeaWolves.
Mirror photos by Gary M. Baranec
Curve fans Doug and Carmen Hewitt of Altoona enter Peoples Natural Gas Field for the team’s opener on Thursday against the Erie SeaWolves. Altoona won, 7-4. For more photos, go to cu.altoonamirror.com.
Luke Murray, 11, attended the Curve game with his sister, Alexis, 11, and brother, Kyle, 9.
Curve player Adalberto Santos takes the field before the team’s season opener Thursday.
Owner Bob Lozinak said attendance was "not bad for a cool night," and people were still making their way to the ball field. The bottom bowl of the stadium was sold out, he said.
"The grass is green," he said of opening day excitement. "Look at that grass out there!"
Lozinak said it's good to see the fans again, and with a more experienced team, he was looking ahead to a good season.
Kephart, whose wife will re-join him at the games when the weather gets warmer due to her health, said he tries to make as many games as he can.
The Altoona Curve Booster Club photographer has taken more than 4,000 photos voluntarily for the Curve. His objective Thursday was to capture each player in the starting lineup in action.
Kephart has followed the franchise since before there was a field at all. He remembered when it was just a hole in the ground and watching the construction of the field with his son.
The first game was held April 15, 1999.
"It's probably the nicest baseball field in the minor leagues," he said. "Everything that's done here is done first class."
Kephart also praised Lozinak for his kindness.
Kephart appreciates the ballpark's new corporate sponsor. He said he was glad to see Peoples Natural Gas get involved. Some people might frown upon corporate sponsorship, he said, but good things such as energy savings are coming because of it.
Most exciting is the Curve's affiliation with the nearby Pittsburgh Pirates, he said. It's unusual for a minor league team to have such a close proximity to its major league affiliate. For example, Erie's major league affiliate is the Detroit Tigers, a few states away. Also, other teams have switched franchises, while the Curve and the Pirates have been together 13 seasons, he said.
Also there for 13 seasons is baseball fan John Lloyd.
Season ticket holders since the first year, Lloyd, and his wife, Michele, of Duncansville turned out for the season opener.
"I've been a baseball fan since I was a kid," he said. "I just think it's cerebral. It's a nice time of year to sit out and watch the games."
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.