THE OPPOSITION: Memphis will face divisional rivals for the first time this season after playing Oklahoma and New Orleans exclusively in the first 15 games of 2005. Omaha arrives for a four-game set starting Saturday. The Redbirds went 7-9 vs. the O-Royals in 2004, including 4-4 at home. After an off day April 27 (when AutoZone Park will play host to the University of Memphis), the Iowa Cubs come to town for their first of two trips to the Bluff City this season. The Redbirds were also 7-9 against the I-Cubs, 4-4 at home. Iowa finished first in the PCL Central last season and is now in the same division as the Redbirds (the American Conference North) following the off-season realignment.
HOMESTAND HIGHLIGHTS: Rockey will celebrate his birthday on April 24, when several of his mascot friends join him at the ballpark, and Rockey growth posters will be given away. The homestand also features four community nights: Tupelo (April 23), Whitehaven (April 26), Orange Mound (April 28) and Tipton (April 30). Zooperstars, the popular inflated sports-themed characters, will make their first appearance at AutoZone Park on April 28.
HOOTERS HOME RUN DERBY: Prior to the homestand finale on Sunday, May 1, the Redbirds will host the Hooters Home Run Derby. As seen last fall on Fox Sports Net's Best Damn Sports Show Period, Scott Brown and Tim Cocco of the Easton/Hooters Bomb Squad 2005 Home Run Challenge will step to the plate to hammer softballs over the fence. Each participant will get two rounds of 10 pitches, and, if time allows, additional rounds of five pitches each. The event is sponsored by Easton Sports and Hooters.
ADOPT A SCHOOL: The Redbirds have partnered with Memphis City Schools to sponsor several Adopt-A-School nights in April, including the Monday and Tuesday games. Anyone who would like to adopt a school can purchase reduced-price tickets for students, families and staff. Money from each ticket purchased will also go to the school. For more information, call the Redbirds group sales hotline, 901.722.0299. The MCS Reads program also garners some attention, with a pre-game presentation on April 26.
GREAT GIVEAWAYS: Fans coming out to the ballpark this homestand will get a chance at two bobbleheads – the traditional Bobble Mania Monday on April 25 that features Chris Carpenter and a make-up giveaway for the Tony LaRussa bobbles that were originally scheduled for April 11.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Redbirds next travel to Omaha and Iowa before returning to AutoZone Park to take on Pacific Conference rivals Las Vegas and Tucson May 10-17. It will be the only trip to Memphis for the 51's and Sidewinders in 2005.