In a sure sign the team’s support is growing, many fans showed up to this year’s Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks home opener already wearing their team’s red, white and blue gear. One of those fans was little 3-year-old Theodore Manolas IV, who toddled into Loretta French Park wearing a proud grin and a blue Chinooks t-shirt.
Manolas’ mom, Reagan, said the family has become die-hard supporters of the team, which opened its second season in Chugiak June 10. Her husband is Chinooks radio broadcaster T.J. Manolas, while her father-in-law is hosting a pair of the team’s players.
“It’s kinda becoming a family affair,” Manolas said.
With burgers and dogs on the grill, team apparel flapping in the warm breeze and even the mayor on hand, the festive home opener couldn’t have turned out better for the Chinooks, who even provided a 3-1 victory in the nonleague game.
The Chinooks hope their second season in town will continue to show growth for the team. A new concession stand facility is currently under construction at Loretta French, a municipal park that’s slowly but surely turning into a baseball stadium.
Anchorage mayor Dan Sullivan wore a Chinooks jersey and hat while throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in the bright summer sun.
Sullivan praised the Chugiak-Eagle River community for working together to turn the community into an Alaska Baseball League town.
“You do have a lot of spirit out here,” said Sullivan, who served as executive director for the 1996 Arctic Winter Games held in Chugiak-Eagle River.
It wouldn’t be a visit to Chugiak without a bit of friendly ribbing from the people living in the community Sullivan likes to refer to as “the breakaway republic of Chugiak-Eagle River.” Before the mayor threw out the first pitch, Chinooks booster club president Lee Jordan jokingly doubted Sullivan’s baseball prowess.
“Basketball players don’t know how to throw a baseball,” Jordan said of the former basketball player.
After lobbing his pitch across the plate, Sullivan said he was pretty sure he’d fired a strike.
“I swear the batter would have swung,” he said.
Sullivan then posed for pictures with the Chinooks team before exiting the field to grab a burger and watch the game with the rest of the fans.
“It’s a great day for baseball,” he said.
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or [email protected].