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Hops season opens with full house, happy fans

Fans galore donned the green and blue and turned out in force June 18 at the sold out opening night game for the Hillsboro Hops.

The city’s minor league baseball team stormed into town on a 4-1 record after early season play against the Everett AquaSox.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - Andrew Zohar takes a practice swing at the Hillsboro Hops home opener June 18 at the new kids play area behind center field. Members of the Zohar family, from Hillsboro, were attending their first Hops game.

Festivities began early in the evening with the inaugural lighting of the new Ron Tonkin Field sign. Ron Tonkin Family of Dealerships and the Hops announced a 10-year, $1.5 million naming rights agreement for the ballpark in May.

A warm evening and eager members of the “Hopspitality Team” greeted visitors to the ballpark, as did the home-cookin’ smell of grilling burgers and hot dogs.

The Tonkin brothers, Brad and Ed, threw out first pitches to get the Hops’ second season in Hillsboro started.

The Hops, an affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks, moved from Yakima, Wash., last summer, where they were they known as the Yakima Bears.

Nevermind that the team lost the game to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. That didn’t put a damper on the festivities off the field.

The team shop was standing room only as fans lined up out the door to shop for Hops swag.

A new addition to the ballpark this year drew plenty of young fans behind center field. A huge inflatable slide and batting cage kept the kids busy while parents kept track of the game.

Grant Gamble, a student at Oregon State University, attended the game with his aunt and uncle, city councilor Aron Carleson and Pete Carleson.

“It’s too hot,” Pete Carleson said before the game started. A second-year season ticket holder, he came prepared. “I have my jacket, hat and gloves” for later, he said.

Hillsboro residents Karla and Brian Brokaw bought season tickets this year after attending a handful of games last season.

“I thought it would be fun,” Karla said.

She had another reason to be in attendance opening night: She sews patches on the team’s uniforms, and was there to make sure her handiwork looked sharp.

What’s more, Karla keeps the “Barley the Hop” costume in good repair — not an easy task, she said.

“He gets a lot of use all year,” she pointed out. The big green mascot makes many appearances throughout the year in schools, parades and other public events.

Barley even “went undercover” late last summer as a pedestrian in a Hillsboro Police Department crosswalk safety campaign. But it’s not always easy duty.

“His arm fell off once last year,” Karla said.

Despite the number of hugs Barley gave out to happy fans on opening night, his arms stayed intact.

One extra-happy fan summed up the atmosphere at the ballpark. Cheryl Aker, who hosted two Hops players last summer and is hosting more again this summer, put it simply: “Isn’t this great? Everyone here tonight really wants to be here.”



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  • 24 Nov 2014

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