By Naomi Schapiro
Bellingham Bells fans will have an easier time keeping up with the score this season. The Bells’ ballpark will inaugurate a new scoreboard at their first game of the season on June 2.
The old scoreboard was about 30 years old, so it was time for an upgrade, Bells Assistant General Manager Haily Tift said.
“A couple of ballparks in our league already had one, and it just adds an extra level of professionalism,” Tift said. “We take this really seriously, and [the new scoreboard] adds to the great atmosphere for families.”
Ownership is also changing this season as Glenn and Jennifer Kirkpatrick of White Rock, British Columbia, purchased the team.
“I don’t think fans will see a lot of changes, but when they do it will be for the better,” general manager Stephanie Morrell said. “Every time you have new ownership they have different perspectives, but they bought the team because they liked what we were doing.”
While the first game is in June, Morrell and other Bells employees have been working all year to make sure it is an amazing season. Jim Clem, pitching coach and recruiting coordinator, said he started recruiting players for this season last August, right after the 2017 season ended.
The Bells have two returning players this year. Ernie Yake is a Bellingham native who now plays third base for Gonzaga. Clem said Yake was a terrific player last season, and he will be great for the team this year. He said it was fun for the fans to have a local player on the team and someone people watched grow up.
Trevor DeLaite is also returning for his second summer with the Bells. DeLaite is a left-handed pitcher from University of Maine.
“He did a great job as a relief pitcher for us [last year],” Clem said. “He embraced being a Bell, and that is why we asked him back.”
Typically, there are five or fewer returners each season. Clem said since playing for a summer team is such a special experience, he likes to give as many people the opportunity as possible. He said they liked to have a few returning players to help lead the rest of the team.
Clem also said it was important to his players that Western students attend the games.
“There aren’t many communities that get a team like this,” Clem said. “We love to see college kids come and root for the team because they bring a great energy. It is fun for the players to play in front of anyone, but especially people their own age.”
The Bells play at Joe Martin Field, which is located on Lakeway Drive next to Civic Stadium.
In terms of food, the concession stand will hold old favorites, such as Little Caesars Pizza and Ralph’s Pretzels, and will be adding a few new items to the mix. The hamburger buns will be made at Avenue Bread, and Jack Mountain Meats will be providing the burgers.
With plenty of promotional nights, food and music, anyone can find fun at a Bells game, Tift said.
“There is nothing better than being outside, especially in Bellingham,” Tift said. “Sit on the grass, put down your chairs and blankets and make those memories.”
Tickets are available at http://www.bellinghambells.com.