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LPS at Saltdogs

Homer the Haymarket Hound hands out high-fives to Lincoln Public Schools fifth-graders before the start of the Lincoln-Gary Southshore game at Haymarket Park last season.

For the first time since 2003, the Lincoln Saltdogs will begin the American Association season on home soil.

Normally the Saltdogs run into scheduling conflicts with the Husker baseball team, with both sharing Haymarket Park as their home ballpark.

“It's a deal with the league and our partnership with the University of Nebraska,” said Charlie Meyer, Saltdogs president and general manager.

With Nebraska facing Illinois in a three-game series in Illinois beginning Thursday, Haymarket Park was available for the season opener for the Saltdogs.

“We are actually able to start at home for the first time in 15 years,” Meyer said. “I just think it is going to be fun on opening night of the league and actually be the first game for the American Association for 2018.

“We are excited about that opportunity.”

Thursday's contest opens a four-game series with the Sioux City Explorers. The first 1,500 fans to enter Haymarket will receive a Saltdogs Scott Frost jersey. The new Nebraska football coach will throw out the first pitch of the American Association season.

Not only is the season opener at home a rare sight for the Saltdogs players, it is for the ballpark staff as well.

“We've usually had seven to 10 extra days to get ready for that home opener,” Meyer said. “The programs and the radio scripts all need to be ready because the game is starting, but it's all the behind-the-scenes kind of things from getting our interns trained up and delivering season tickets 10 days early.

“It's had an effect on where sometimes I felt like we were drinking out of a fire hose because everything was coming down on us so fast.”

Thursday's opener starts at 7 p.m.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or tgray@journalstar.com.

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