Cleveland’s national holiday is less than a week away and feels closer than ever with a successful and eventful season opening win by the Indians under their belt with their 8-5 Monday night win over the Rangers in Texas. Now, fans will have less than a week to wait until the club completes its brief return trip to Arizona for a three-game stay in Phoenix against the Diamondbacks and comes home to Cleveland for its long anticipated debut at Progressive Field.
The Indians announced on Monday the list of festivities scheduled when the Indians open the home portion of the 2017 regular season schedule on Tuesday, April 11, against the Chicago White Sox, and it is once again chock full of pomp and circumstance.
After weather interfered with the excitement and pageantry of the Indians’ home opener in 2016, all will be hoping for clear skies and no drama regarding any needed last minute cancellations due to rain, sleet, snow, hail, cold, ice, or impending apocalypse.
The opener will mark the start of the 24th season of play at Progressive Field. The game, long since sold out, will be the 25th consecutive Opening Day sellout for the Indians organization, dating back to the final season of play at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
Fans attending the event are encouraged to arrive early to take in the pregame ceremonies celebrating the Indians’ 2016 season, one that included an American League championship and one of the more dramatic finishes in World Series history. Players and coaches will be on hand prior to the game to receive their championship rings and a banner will be displayed in the Right Field Terraces to commemorate the season, in addition to a new flag to be raised in center field.
The team will welcome three legends of the Cleveland sports scene to throw out ceremonial first pitches prior to the start of the contest. Longtime Tribe slugger and home run king Jim Thome will represent the Indians organization. One of the voices of the Cavaliers, Austin Carr, has been selected to represent the Indians’ Gateway neighbors. Three-time NFL MVP and a member of the last football championship club in town, Jim Brown, will take the field for the Cleveland Browns organization.
The Cleveland Orchestra’s string section will play the national anthem, marking their return to Progressive Field after playing prior to the final game of last season’s World Series. At the conclusion of the anthem, there will be a flyover by a US Air Force F-16.
Members of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard will come together in the presenting of the colors. As has been seen in previous openers, a large American flag will also be on display on the field during the events and will be held with the assistance of 250 employees of Progressive Insurance.
First pitch of next Tuesday’s home opener against the Chicago White Sox is scheduled for 4:10 PM ET. Gates are scheduled to open at 2:00 PM ET. Indians’ number two starter, Carlos Carrasco, is in line to make the start.
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak