By Sports editor Brian Hoffman
The Salem Baseball Booster Club is met this past week to elect new officers. It’s been a quiet year for the group, who haven’t had a lot to boost as today is day 169 AG. That’s 169 days “After Gobert” tested positive for COVID-19 and all sports as we knew them came to a halt.
One of those we knew, and loved, was Carolina League baseball. This summer is the first time in over 50 years Salem has not had CL baseball for Roanoke Valley fans. It’s been a long summer for the booster club, who work hard with little fanfare to create a nice atmosphere for the Salem Red Sox players.
“They do a great job,” said Salem general manager Allen Lawrence. “When the players arrive they welcome them with a Salem packet, then help them furnish their apartments. They also feed the players all season long. They’re a huge help.”
Bonnie Hiner, the wife of Vinton Public Works Director Joey Hiner, is the Fundraising Chairperson for the Booster Club and she’s had a hard time raising money with no ballgames. Usually the club has a nightly 50-50 raffle at ballgames, silent auctions and other fundraisers, but the pandemic has put much of that on hold.
“We still have bills to pay,” she said. “We have to pay for storage for furniture and stuff and we want to have some money for when baseball starts up again. My fundraising committee is amazing and their love of baseball is unwavering. ”
One of the fund raisers will be on Friday night, September 4, when the “Crazy Paint Lady” will be at Salem Memorial Ballpark. She instructs folks on how to paint a designated picture and it’s been a popular event. Cost is $25 and it will be combined with a free movie on the rightfield video board. “Into the Spideverse” will be shown at 7:30 pm and the concession stand will be open.
Hiner urges prospective painters to sign up on the club’s Facebook page as soon as possible. Of the $25 fee $18 goes to the paint lady and the booster club gets the rest. The club has also sold bobbleheads to raise money and urges fans to join the club.
“You don’t have to be a season ticket holder, you can just be a fan,” said Hiner. “We just love our Salem Red Sox.”
Meanwhile, the Sox management has been scrambling to make a buck after the Carolina League season took a third strike. The team had a concert with country music star Chase Rice recently rained out, and that will be made up in May of 2021. On September 11 the team will host the “911 Stair Climb” for firefighters with food and live music. “Salem After 5” will be at the ballpark on September 18th and Lawrence has another movie, yet to be decided, on September 26th. That will be combined with “Dining on the Diamond,” an event that already proved to be successful where fans can eat a dinner of ballpark food on the Haley-Toyota Field infield.