With Opening Day 2016 just two weeks away, teams are beginning to release their plans for the first game of the year. For the Cleveland Indians, this means several guest appearances and other festivities all tied together by an "Only Here" ad campaign that kicks off on television and radio today.
This year's home opener sold out in a mere 40 minutes when tickets went on sale on February 29, making it the 24th consecutive sold out home opener for the Tribe, dating back to the team's last season at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Throwing out the first pitch to this sold out crowd will be Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, who grew up in nearby Akron, Ohio.
The big guests of the day will be Bill Selby, Kenny Lofton, and Travis Hafner. The last two names should ring a bell, obviously, as two of the most iconic Indians players of the last two decades, but Bill Selby is joining the festivities for different reasons.
Selby had a short and underwhelming career. He played only five seasons in the majors, three with the Indians, and finished with a -1.9 fWAR. However, Selby provided one big night in the form of a walk-off grand slam that propelled the Tribe over Mariano Rivera and the New York Yankees on July 14, 2002.
Hafner and Lofton each have dozens of memorable moments while they were members of the Tribe, but, in particular. the Indians will be honoring Hafner's walk-off single to end the infamous "bug game" in the 2007 ALDS. Likewise, Lofton is being remembered for his legendary catch in August of 1999 that robbed BJ Surhoff of a home run, as well as his game-winning run home that capped off a 12-run comeback against the Seattle Mariners in 2001.
It's all a part of the Indians new "Only Here" ad campaign, which hopes to remind fans of the exciting things that only happen in Cleveland. In reality, it will probably be used in countless snarky tweets when the Indians lose late in a game or get blown out by a bad team. You tried, marketing department. Kudos for that.
Opening Day for the Tribe will be on April 4 at 4:10 p.m. EST in a game against the Boston Red Sox. The national anthem will be performed by operatic singer William Clarence Marshall, a northeast Ohio native who frequently performs at local Ohio venues.