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Open houses are home runs with Red Sox, Twins fans

By Nathan Mayberg - | Feb 19, 2020

Matt Faller of Naples plays catch with his 6-year-old son Cameron at JetBlue Park in front of the Green Monster at the Boston Red Sox spring training open house Feb. 15. NATHAN MAYBERG

Free open houses at Hammond Stadium and JetBlue Park drew thousands of fans to the spring training sites of the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox this past week.

The teams opened up practice fields and the main stadium field to fans, allowing families to gather along the outfield grass and play catch and other games. At Hammond Stadium, Twins prospects played catch and threw to young baseball players.

The Fort Myers Beach Little League was the recipient of equipment such as baseballs, softballs and bats, said Mark Weber, director of Florida operations for the Minnesota Twins.

Jannine Traficante, whose young daughters Gianna and Gemma play softball in the league, was in attendance with several other parents and children. She also made the trip last year. “The stadium is beautiful,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for the kids.”

Kelly Thawlet of Fort Myers, brought her 5-year old son Brantley to the same open house. Brantley, who was wearing face paint, swung the bat at T-ball baseballs which are softer than a normal baseball, which were thrown to him by Twins prospect Sean Mooney.

The Minnesota Twins donated equipment to the Fort Myers Beach Little League on Feb. 17 at their spring training open house at Hammond Stadium. Among the Little League players in attendance were (left to right) Mia West, Gemma Traficante, Gianna Traficante, Kai West and parents Jannine Traficante (left to right) and Kim West. NATHAN MAYBERG

“It’s our first time. We loved it,” Kelly said of attending the open house. “We are trying to expose him to different sports.”

Two days earlier at JetBlue Park, it was a similar situation with Red Sox fans.

Kate Ellie and Jenny Zink of Cape Coral enjoyed getting a close look at the players and the field, going up on the Green Monster, as well as $1 cotton candy and $1 hot dogs. “We come every year,” Ellie said.

Matt Faller of Naples played catch with his 6-year-old son Cameron. “This is our third time at the event,” Faller said. “He has a blast playing out here on this outfield. It’s good for the kids to get on the field.”