Altoona Curve set for Fifth Anniversary season at Blair County Ballpark

Professional baseball is here again for the fans in Northern Blair County and beyond..
The Altoona Curve conducted a Media Day and workout for the first time in its Altoona facilities, Tuesday afternoon,
The 2003 Curve home season begins on April 10, with an evening game against the Reading Phils. Starting time for all evening games will be 6:35 p.m. until June 1,. After that date, the starting time will be moved back to 7:05 p.m. New this season will be 3:05 p.m. game times for Sunday ballgames until May 11. Beginning with the club’s next home weekend series, the May 25 contest against the Binghamton Mets, Sunday home games will start at 6:05 p.m. for the rest of the season.
Former Penn State running back Larry Johnson, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards during the 2002 Penn State season will throw out the first pitch on Saturday, April 12.
The Curve’s promotional schedule is taking shape as well. Among the highlights will be “Retro World Series Night” a joint promotion between both the Curve and Reading which will take place at both ballparks. The Curve will don black and gold uniforms worn by the Pirates when they won their last World Championship in 1979.
Another promotion will be “Trading Spaces Night” highlighted by an appearance by Amy Wynn Pastor, popular cast member and carpenter from the Learning Channel’s hit show Trading Spaces.
As part of “Super Sunday Summer Shootout Series” fans will be treated to post-game fireworks extravaganzas following each of the Curve’s seven Sunday evening contests from May 25 through the remainder of the season.
The Curve will also run several season-long promotions and giveaways in celebration of the franchise’s fifth anniversary series in 2003. Player magnet sets, MVP cups and commemorative baseballs will be featured five times throughout the season.
In addition to the above, there will also be a number of traveling mascots visit the ballpark as in the past. The inflatable, Celebritoons (April 19 and June 20), Reggy (May 25), The Blue Brothers (June 7 and August 14) and the first-ever Blair County Ballpark appearance of Myron Noodleman (May 10) and several others.
Twelve players who led Class-A Lynchburg to one of Minor League baseball’s best records and the Carolina League’s championship last season have earned spots on the Altoona Curve’s Opening Day 24-man roster. The Curve opens its 142-game schedule on Thursday at Reading.
Among the 12 players, 10 will be making their Double-A debuts, including left-handed starting pitcher Sean Burnett and infielder Jose Castillo, the Pirates second and fourth-rated minor league prospects, according to Baseball America for the 2003 season. Burnett and Castillo were joined on last season’s Carolina post-season All-Star squad by catcher Ronny Paulino, infielder Ray Navarrete and outfielders Josh Bonifay and Chris Duffy-all of whom are also on the Curve’s opening day roster. Other members of the Hillcats championship club making the move to Altoona are starting pitchers Mike Connolly and Landon Jacobson, relievers Jeff Bennett, Brady Borner and Mike Johnston and outfielder B. J. Barnes, who along with Bennett has previous Double-A experience.
Of the remaining 12 players, seven will return from last year’s club, including Double-A All-star outfielder Shawn Garrett, who will be the Curve’s everyday right fielder and starting pitchers Ben Shaffar and John Grabow. Also back are infielder Joe Caruso from nearby Lock Haven, and relief pitchers Brad Guy, Neal McDade and Rick Palma. Infielder Shaun Skrehot and reliever Clint Chrysler also return, but both, along with catcher Chris Snusz, will open the season on the disabled list.
Five minor league free agent signees will round out the club’s opening day roster, including two with previous major league experience-second baseman Kevin Nicholson (San Diego, 2000) and Chan Perry (Cleveland, 2001 and Kansas City , 2002). Reliever Todd Ozias, catcher Chris Hentz and first baseman/outfielder Brett Roneberg were also signed to bolster the Curve’s roster.