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Followers pack Raimondi Park for Oakland Ballers’ house opener

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Fans packed into Raimondi Park for the Oakland Ballers’ inaugural home opener Tuesday night.

The energy at the ballpark was electric. A’s fans turned B’s fans say it was exciting to root on a team that plans to invest in the Oakland community.

“l’ve been to about 100+ A’s games from the time I was 3. Huge Ballers fan already. So excited. Love having a local team for Oakland, a little disappointed the A’s are moving,” said fan Samuel Coleridge.

The Ballers sold out the 4,200-seat ballpark. The line to get in wrapped around the block. Players greeted fans at the door handing out rally towels.

At the same time, the A’s played the Seattle Mariners seven miles down the road at the Oakland Coliseum. Mayor Sheng Thao says it’s their loss. 

“We may have more fans than they do right now, but that’s okay because they have the Coliseum and we have Raimondi Park,” she said. 

Before the first pitch, the co-founders of the team thanked the community for volunteering and bringing the park to life.

“This was really a team effort. The whole community came out to make this happen,” said co-founder Paul Freedman. 

Oakland rapper Mistah F.A.B. got to hit the ceremonial first hit – after a whiff or two.  He says having this team rooted in Oakland is a major win for the town.

“Growing up playing ball in Oakland, actually coming to this field and other parts of Oakland, California to be a part of this, I’m so stoked. Some of the locals, giving them something to cheer about,” he said. 

The Ballers are an independent team playing in the Pioneer League. The first base and bench coach, former San Francisco Giants player JT Snow says this is great for the community and young players trying to make it to the major leagues.

“Everybody is excited,” he said. “Our kids have been great. They are working hard. A lot of these kids don’t get drafted, right? The draft is only 20 rounds now. When I came out of college it was 50 rounds.”

Some fans experienced a few hiccups during the first game, with long concession lines and crowding. But the team wants to assure fans it’s only going to get better. 

“We knew it wasn’t going to be perfect,” Freedman said. “Lots of growing pains, long lines in certain places. But we are here to listen and make it better every day.”

The Ballers dropped their first home game to the Yolo High Wheelers 9-3. They play against the Yolo at home through Sunday and will have plenty more home games throughout the season. 

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