HILLSBORO, OR (KPTV) – "Playball!" is something that hasn’t been heard for the Hillsboro Hops since the Single-A Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks won the League Championship way back in September 2019, but that changed Tuesday after having all of the last summer canceled during the pandemic.
The tan lines may look funky this spring and summer, but they are safe at home. Barley the hop hasn’t been at work in 604 days, looking slim, trim and ready to play ball.
“It feels good to be back. It almost feels like normal,” one fan said.
Hoppy opening day, covid style.
“It’s like, if you can just go see your family for a holiday, it’s like coming to Hops Stadium again,” another fan said. “Tickled pink that there is an opportunity that we can come out here, having a cold beer, baseball, it’s the best thing we can do in spring.”
“The hoppiest place on earth” is open for business—a thrill ride brewing for some 18-months.
A sellout crowd of 825 fans for season nine up the vine offers some healing.
“Hopefully, we can prove this is a safe place to have fans. We have safe protocols, and we can continue to ratchet things up and hopefully get to 25-50% by the end of the month,” KL Wombacher, Hillsboro Hops General Manager.
The defending Northwest League Champs from 2019 have leveled to the newly formed High-A West League now fully under the stewardship of Major League Baseball as the Hops have a new 10-year affiliation agreement with the Arizona Diamondbacks and doubling the amount of Hop nights for the future and for now.
“Before, I used to say maybe 1 or 2 guys on our roster had major league potential. Now, we’re at the point where half of them have major league potential,” Mike McMurray, Hillsboro Hops President and Owner said.
Come out and watch ‘em grow.
“To have special moments like this, it’s nice to have those firsts, you know? This is really awesome,” another fan said.
Safety first, who’s on first? The Hops are here, and that’s all that matters right now. The Canadians from Vancouver are also calling Ron Tonkin Field home when the hops are on the road as the U.S.- Canadian border remains closed for non-essential travel.