Cabarrus

Kannapolis Intimidators include the whole family in a night at the ballpark

From left, Harrisburg resident Hannah Birkemeier, 10; Kevin Birkemeier, dad; Sam Birkemeier, 7; Jennifer Birkemeier, mom; Eli Birkemeier, 6; and Gretta Birkemeier; 11, take the physical challenge to earn a discount ticket.
From left, Harrisburg resident Hannah Birkemeier, 10; Kevin Birkemeier, dad; Sam Birkemeier, 7; Jennifer Birkemeier, mom; Eli Birkemeier, 6; and Gretta Birkemeier; 11, take the physical challenge to earn a discount ticket. Marty Price

There’s a lot more than baseball going on at a Kannapolis Intimidators game.

Local fans come to Intimidators Stadium to see minor-league baseball, but the team does its best to make the evening fun for the entire family – even kids who might not enjoy watching the game.

The stadium’s Kids Zone includes playground equipment and a giant inflatable slide for those with too much energy to stay in their seats.

The team holds promotions throughout the season to draw crowds. On July 17, the Intimidators joined the city of Kannapolis and the Cabarrus Health Alliance to present Get Healthy Kannapolis Night, one of its regular promotions. Sports fans who took the physical challenge – complete five pushups or 10 jumping jacks – received a voucher for $3 off general admission.

Once Sam Palian, 17, of the promotions team explained the offer, Kannapolis resident Eli Birkemeier, 6, and his two sisters – Hannah, 10, and Gretta, 11 – jumped down and started doing pushups.

After watching Eli and his sisters finish, their father, Kevin Birkemeier, did his pushups while mother Jennifer and another brother, Sam, 7, did 10 jumping jacks. Noting that the group had just saved $18, Jennifer Birkemeier said, “It just makes sense. It takes nothing but a minute and saves us money.”

Kevin Birkemeier said, “This is terrific. It gets people out and involved with the community. We get some exercise for a cheap ticket.”

The promotions didn’t stop there. When the family walked in the front gate, Meghan Charpentier, program coordinator with Cabarrus Health Alliance, challenged the group to Hula-Hoop.

Those who took the challenge and spun the hoop around their bodies were entered into a raffle for a $25 gift card.

“We are doing this to encourage physical activity,” said Charpentier.

In addition, all items on the Ballpark Fit and Fresh menu were two for one during Get Healthy Kannapolis Night. Hungry fans could save money while trying the healthy alternatives to normal ballpark fare.

Every game provides entertainment in the stands between innings. Young fans scurry among older ones to get autographs from favorite players and chase the team’s mascot, a big alligator named Tim E. Gator, around the stands before the first pitch. If you talk with the promotions team, you can arrange to be the lucky child to race Tim E. Gator around the bases on the field between innings.

The visiting Hagerstown Suns lost to the Intimidators in a game that added plenty of excitement from the field.

John Ziznewski hit a grand-slam home run in the second inning to make the score 4-0. Yency Almonte pitched seven scoreless innings in the 5-2 win July 17.

There also were squishy-ball giveaways, in which the promotion staff throw the balls from the back of a passing pickup into the stands, but the favorite activity for some is the Scream for Pizza contest. As the team mascot walked around with a pepperoni pizza, fans gathered in groups screaming to see who could be the loudest, to win the pizza.

Tim E. Gator milked it that Friday night, walking back and forth through the stands holding his hand to his ear before settling on a group and handing over the pizza.

The pizza was quickly devoured by the winning group, as if it was a race to finish their coveted slices before they returned to watching the game.

Marty Price is a freelance writer: martyprice53@gmail.com

Learn more:

There are several home games through the end of the season Sept. 7, with the next Get Healthy Kannapolis Night on Aug. 14.

▪ For a complete schedule for games and promotions, as well as information on the Kannapolis Intimidators, visit www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t487 or visit the team’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KannapolisIntimidators

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