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Myrtle Beach Pelicans Baseball helps put Myrtle Beach in the swing of things

Myrtle Beach got its game when “The Birds” landed in 1999.

That was when the Myrtle Beach Pelicans baseball team made their debut in the city.

Before “The Birds” made Myrtle Beach their coop, the city endured seven years without a minor league team after the departure of the Myrtle Beach Hurricanes, a minor league club of the Toronto Blue Jays. That team was sold after the 1992 season and moved to Maryland where it was renamed the Hagerstown Suns.

The 7-year drought the city went through now seems like a distant memory since the farm team of the Texas Rangers made Myrtle Beach its home.

Myrtle Beach residents and folks in surrounding communities were ecstatic about joining family and friends to watch America’s quintessential sport.

The crowds came, and they stayed. And they enjoyed tasty food sold at the ball field, including hot dogs, popcorn and later fried pickles, giant turkey legs, fried bologna and funnel cakes.

Game after game, people came with their children and neighbors in tow to watch the Myrtle Beach Pelicans take on teams in the Carolina League. Vacationers staying at the Island Vista Resort were among fans, too, because they also knew this was a team worth cheering for.

Elvis Andrus, who joined the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in 2007, now plays shortstop for the Texas Rangers, for which he debuted on April 6, 2009.

Jason Heyward is another former standout of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. In September 2009, Baseball America and USA Today named him the Minor League Player of the Year. He started playing Major League Baseball for the Atlanta Braves as a right fielder on April 5, 2010.

The profile of Minor League Baseball in Myrtle Beach began rising.

Baseball America rated the BB&T Coastal Field, where the Myrtle Beach Pelicans play their home games, as the No. 2 Class-A level ballpark nationwide in 2004. Ironically, in 1998, when the city of Myrtle Beach was building the stadium for Myrtle Beach Pelicans, it was called the “Field of Dreams.”

And dreams did start coming true.

In 2008, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans won the first and second-half Southern Division titles under its then manager, Rocket Wheeler, who was named manager of the year for the Carolina League.

Jason Wood, who played in Major League Baseball for the Oakland Athletics and Florida Marlins, is the present manager of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

Wood isn’t the only one, however, with some celebrity – he has to share the spotlight with Splash.

Splash is the effervescent dancing, shaking-his-booty mascot of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

He (or she) is also an ambassador of good will. From the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk to Oktoberfest, Splash is there keeping smiles on faces.

Around town, Splash can be seen dancing with members of  Coastal Carolina University’s Marching Band and spending hang time with Mayor John Rhodes at nonprofit events.

Splash simply knows how to make a splash.

Take in a game, and you will see why the Myrtle Beach Pelicans soar.

If you go:
What: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Where: 1251 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach, S.C. 29577
When: The 2013 Season begins April 4 with a home game against the Wilmington Blue Rocks that begins at 7:05 p.m. The season ends at home as well with a game against the Carolina Mudcats at 6:05 p.m. Monday, Sept. 2.
(Season Ticket) Cost: The Field Box price is $630, while the Reserved Box and Grand Strand Reserved price is $560. Call for individual ticket prices.
Information: Call (843) 918-6077 or visit http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t521
. Directions: Start out going southwest on North Ocean Boulevard/S.C. 73 toward Sunset Trail. Make slight right onto Haskell Circle. Turn left onto North Kings Highway/U.S. 17 Business. Turn right onto 21st Ave. N. BB&T Coastal Field, home of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, is on the left.

Posted 11/14/12

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