Five things to know before the Akron RubberDucks home opener on April 12

The wait is over.

A sure sign of spring and summer arrives Tuesday with the return of minor league baseball in downtown Akron.

The RubberDucks return to the nest after starting the season on the road in Erie, Pennsylvania.

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Tuesday's home opener marks the team's first game back on the field in Akron since sweeping the Bowie Baysox in the fall to win the Double-A Northeast Championship.

Here are five things to know before the first pitch.

RubberDucks catcher Bo Naylor, center, celebrates with outfielder Will Brennan and infielder Brayan Rocchio after a walk-off win Sept. 24 against the Bowie Baysox in the Class AA Northeast Championship at Canal Park in Akron.
RubberDucks catcher Bo Naylor, center, celebrates with outfielder Will Brennan and infielder Brayan Rocchio after a walk-off win Sept. 24 against the Bowie Baysox in the Class AA Northeast Championship at Canal Park in Akron.

The lineup

The gates to Canal Park open one hour prior to game time. Season ticket holders can enter through the Suite Level entrance two hours before game time.

The scheduled first pitch for the home opener against the Reading Fightin Phils is 7:05 p.m.

The Union Home Mortgage Welcomes You Home Opening Night features a T-shirt giveaway along with postgame fireworks.

For ticket information, call 330-253-5151or visit milb.com/akron.

Can't make the game in person? The broadcast team of Marco LaNave and Jim Clark will be announcing home games on iHeartMedia’s 640 WHLO AM.

Canal Park has new seats for the 2022 season.
Canal Park has new seats for the 2022 season.

Seating arrangements

The ballpark will have a new-seat smell this season.

Gone are all of the old seats. Every single one of the original seats around the field that dated back to Canal Park's opening in 1997 have been replaced.

The seats are pretty much the same dimensions, but some of these 7,260 new seats are much more colorful than the old ones. The prime seats closest to the action mirror the team's colors.

This was part of a $2.95 million renovation project that included resealing the seating area and improvements to private loges by the city of Akron to upgrade the ballpark for this season.

Ceremonies celebrate the opening of Canal Park on April 10, 1997.
Ceremonies celebrate the opening of Canal Park on April 10, 1997.

Happy anniversary

This is a historic season for the RubberDucks.

Not only is it the first season the Double-A affiliate is playing for the newly renamed Cleveland Guardians, but it also marks minor league team's 25th season in Akron and at Canal Park.

The first game for the then-Akron Aeros and newly minted Canal Park was April 10, 1997, vs. Harrisburg Senators.

A young pitcher by the name of Jaret Wright took the mound and threw out the first pitch of the game. Senators shortstop Hiram Bocachica took a swinging strike.

Some 9,086 fans attended the game.

The team plans to mark the anniversary at a home game on May 14 with an anniversary pennant giveaway along with postgame fireworks.

Never Sausage a Thing, a new RubberDucks Extreme Food Menu item, is a jumbo hot dog topped with coleslaw, green onions and barbecue sauce served in a baked potato.
Never Sausage a Thing, a new RubberDucks Extreme Food Menu item, is a jumbo hot dog topped with coleslaw, green onions and barbecue sauce served in a baked potato.

Game menu

Sure there's a baseball game going on the field, but there's also a culinary challenge on the concourse.

The ballpark staples are all back.

Popcorn.

Hot dogs — the good news is they will still be 2 bucks this season.

And the ballclub's extreme foods.

This season's extreme food lineup includes newcomers Another Cheesy Canal Pork Dog, PopCONE Chicken and Never Sausage a Thing.

The Another Cheesy Canal Pork Dog is a foot-long hot dog topped with pulled pork, fried onions and Stouffer’s mac and cheese.

The PopCONE Chicken consists of crispy fried popcorn chicken tossed in a homemade honey-hot sauce served in a waffle cone.

And the Never Sausage a Thing is a Polish Boy topped with coleslaw, green onions and barbecue sauce served in a baked potato.

This is the 10th year for extreme food offerings at Canal Park.

The Akron RubberDucks lineup of mascots includes Orbit, Homer and Webster.
The Akron RubberDucks lineup of mascots includes Orbit, Homer and Webster.

Who's on first?

Knowing the players on the field for any particular game can be a bit confounding for fans.

An injury for the big league Guardians can create a shuffle of players that ripples through its minor league system.

The Columbus Clippers are at the top of the food chain, followed by the RubberDucks and then the Lake County Captains in Eastlake and the Lynchburg Hillcats.

Akron is a popular place for Guardians players to work through a rehab as it is close to Cleveland and the team's doctors and workout facility.

About the only certainty at game time in the RubberDucks lineup will be appearances by the team's mascots, Orbit, Homer and Webster.

Craig Webb, who never made his way out of right field in Little League, can be reached at cwebb@thebeaconjournal.com.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Akron RubberDucks host home opener Tuesday against Bowie Baysox