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Joplin Blasters: What to expect from the team - KOAM TV 7

Joplin Blasters: What to expect from the team

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The city of Joplin will soon be the new home of a professional baseball team.

The Joplin Blasters open up their season in less than a month at the renovated Joe Becker Stadium.

Earlier this month, KOAM's Tawnya Bach talked with one official about what fans can expect on opening day.

Shawn Suarez loves to talk about baseball, but the team he enjoys talking about most is not a Major League Baseball team like the Kansas City Royals or the St. Louis Cardinals.

He's most excited about the Joplin Blasters - a professional baseball team new to Joplin.

"The American Association is a very high level of talent, so we need to put out a good product on the field to compete with the other teams," said Shawn Suarez, Joplin Blasters general manager.

The Blasters will play in the south division of the American Association against teams like the Kansas City T-Bones and the 2014 American Association champions - the Wichita Wingnuts.

"We have two big leaguers that are on our roster... Robinson Tejeda who pitched for the Kansas City Royals for four seasons. We also have Winston Abreau who pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays, among other teams in the major leagues," Suarez said.

Suarez says Tejeda and Abreu will be the anchors for the Blasters' pitching staff.

He hopes they'll be able to bring the big league mentality and professionalism to a stadium filled with history of a former Major Leaguer.

"The fact that you're able to play on a stadium that Mickey Mantle did play on back when he was playing is something that's extremely exciting for us. Actually, if you look past out outfield bleachers that we have our here, there's houses in the distance which Mickey Mantle hit a ball off that as a homerun ball, off of one of those roofs, which is extremely exciting for us. I mean to be able to have that is a unique characteristic of the stadium," Suarez said.

"He was known for power, and that's just one example of it," said Tawnya Bach, KOAM Morning News anchor.

"He was, and that's a shot," Suarez said.

Joe Becker Stadium is the home of the Joplin Blasters.

It is undergoing renovations to suit the needs of a professional baseball team - including a capacity of 4,200 fans.

The stadium now features outfield reserve bleacher seats, an upper reserve and a dugout reserve.

Fans can experience the game behind home plate in lower-level box seats, and for those willing to swing at a higher ticket price, there are luxury suites, which are already sold out, and a party deck for groups.

There's also a general admission gras area where a family of four can experience the game for $20.

"I see us as part of the community. I think that's the biggest thing that we want to do is to be able to integrate ourselves into the community, to be able to offer a family-friendly and affordable option to entertain themselves during the summer," Suarez said.

Suarez is trying to make it family-friendly with a number of amenities that add to the baseball game experience, including fireworks on Fridays and either traveling acts or giveaways on Saturdays.

The players report to Joplin on May 9th. Spring training begins May 10th.

"We have about 11 days for those guys to get ready," Suarez said.

The Joplin Blasters open up their season against the Wichita Wingnuts on May 21st.

Suarez hopes to have a sold-out first game.

For ticket information, visit www.joplinblasters.com.

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