Memorial Day set the tone for the inaugural home game of the brand new Sussex County Miners, a Can-Am League baseball team in Sussex County’s Augusta. The fans were thrilled to have baseball back in the area and it was a great night of baseball that happily ended in a Miners’ win. In the summer of 2013, we visited all the minor league teams in New Jersey so when the Miners were announced, we knew we needed to be there for their home opener against the New Jersey Jackals to make sure our coverage remained complete.
Skylands Stadium opened in 1994 for the New Jersey Cardinals who were a New York-Penn League affiliate for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals broke attendance records and were very popular but eventually were sold in 2005 and moved to State College, PA. The Sussex Skyhawks moved in the next year. They were an independent minor league team owned by the same owners as the New Jersey Jackals. The Skyhawks played in Augusta from 2006 to 2010. With this rich recent history of baseball, it’s no wonder Augusta is excited to have the Miners! The new team is owned by a group of investors including the organizer of the Meadowlands State Fair, Al Dorso.
Since the home opener was set for Memorial Day, there were lots of armed forces related displays and events on that evening. Outside the park, there were military vehicles and cannons to gawk at.
Veterans from many wars threw out multiple ceremonial first pitches and veterans also presented the flag for the Star Spangled Banner.
The Miners fans sitting behind us were busy making up nicknames for their favorite players throughout the game. Many people in the stadium already had Miners shirts and hats. The team store was jam-packed with even more people trying to grab their own Sussex County Miners gear.
The B Street Band, a Springsteen cover group, played for the fans before the game. Everyone was really excited and friendly despite the large crowd.
Toward the end of the evening, we walked around the stadium a bit to see how other sections felt. The crowd behind the away team’s dugout was practically frantic with excitement for the Miners. Maybe they were trying to intimidate the Jackals?
If intimidation was the name of this guy’s game, it worked. The Miners won their first home game with a score of 4-1. The attendance was announced near the end of the game to be 3,819 fans. Nearly all those 3,819 people jumped out of their seats and broke into applause and screams when the last strike was thrown to close out the win for Sussex County.
Check out all the pictures from our visit to Skylands Stadium to see the Sussex County Miners:
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