Parked outside Eastwood Field approximately a half hour before the gates opened, William Vingle, 7, of Girard, threw a baseball back and forth with his uncle, Brad Vingle, 23, of Niles.
The Vingles, with William's grandfather, Mark Vingle of North Jackson, were waiting for Mark's father, Leonard Vingle of Southington, to show up for a multi-generational day of baseball for the home opener of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers minor league baseball team.
"William has been asking almost every day when opening day was happening," Mark Vingle said with a smile. "It is finally here."
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Scrappers center fielder Tyler Naquin (27) signs an autograph for Andrew Zajac of Struthers, far right, as Twila Custer of Farrell, Pa., second from right, and Shawn Titus of Girard wait their turn before the start of the home opener Wednesday.
Playing baseball and going to both minor and major league games have been part of the Vingle family tradition for generations.
"My father's father used to take him to games," Mark said. "It is something we all like to do."
Sitting behind his car so he could soak in whatever shade that was available on the especially warm afternoon sun, Mark Vingle said he believes baseball has been the common denominator among family members.
"Its fun," added William, who says he especially likes hitting the ball.
Wednesday was the first time the family as a group attended the opening day ceremonies.
"We come to the stadium several times a year," he said. "Before this stadium opened, we used to go watch the Akron team and, of course, went to some Indian games in Cleveland."
As the time grew nearer, hundreds of people, many wearing Scrappers and Indian uniforms, began streaming into the parking lot and walking towards the green metal gates. Eastwood Field employees wearing dark blue tops welcomed the first crowd of the 2012 season.
Kimberly Liggett, Daisy Taylor, James Stubbs and David Brown, along with other friends, decided that a 90-plus degree temperature day was perfect weather to see the Scrappers play and to enjoy one another's company.
"I've been coming to see the Scrappers for years," said Liggett, who organized the outing.
Stubbs said he is trying to pick up pointers for managing his children's league teams.
"He's not learning a lot," Liggett quipped to the laughter of their other friends.
Taylor added she was there "...to find a man in a uniform."
Warren resident Dolly Snider, surrounded by Madison Lindus, 2, Junior Auxier, 3, Jen Snider and Jessica Japuncha, said she has been attending every opening day game for the last five years.
"We just love baseball and this team," Snider said. "Junior has been waiting for this."
Herbert and Sibyl Cook of Warren sat under the shade of large umbrellas reading information about the new-look Scrappers.
"This is exciting to watch," Herbert Cook said. "Watching games at this level is more personal. Players will talk to you. There is more of a connection."
Season ticket holders Bob and Shirley Jackson have sat in the same two seats since the Scrappers first game in 1999.
"I used to play ball," Bob Jackson said. "I've gotten too old to play, so I like to watch the young people."
The couple's seats are right behind the batter, so Bob can keep the umpire's calls right. In addition, the couple can greet their baseball family and friends who know them as they walk to their seats.
Hugs and laughs great the Jacksons as dozens of people welcome them and the new season.
"Coming to Scrappers games provide good entertainment for both young and older people," Bob Jackson said. ''It is really family friendly.''
Because Wednesdays are military night, dozens of veterans wore older military jackets, hats and carried other items that identified them as military so they could get discount tickets.