Fan Appreciation Day sets tone for new UFCU Disch-Falk Field
That blur from Bellmont Hall to the UFCU Disch-Falk Field the last several months was Derrick Grubbs, the new director of events at The University of Texas and the unofficial impresario for the unveiling of the ballpark that begins with Fan Appreciation Day on Feb. 17. Grubbs, late of the Round Rock Express baseball club and four months on the job at UT, sounds a bit like a child on Christmas morning as he puts the finishing touches on Fan Appreciation Day in the new ballpark.
"I say 'new' because it really is," Grubbs said. "For those who have been to UFCU Disch-Falk Field, well, it really will be something."
On Sunday, Feb. 17, the gates will open at 9 a.m. and the festivities begin with an autograph session with all of the members of the 2008 Longhorns, winners of two straight Big 12 Conference titles.
Fans will be able to have one item autographed per person.
The day will also feature a special photo opportunity with Bevo, who will make his first appearance in UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
Grubbs said he had always been intrigued by Bevo.
"To me, Bevo represents a quiet strength that is a part of Texas," he said. As patrons are getting autographs, there will be open auditions for those who would like to sing the national anthem at the home games this season.
"I have no idea how many people to expect," Grubbs said. "It will kind of be like 'American Idol' with a blue-ribbon panel of judges."
Do not expect Simon, Paula and Randy, however.
"We have 30 home games, but we won't necessarily have the national anthem sung live at every game," Grubbs said.
At 11 a.m., moms, daughters, dads and sons will be allowed to play catch in the UFCU Disch-Falk outfield, with an intrasquad scrimmage to follow from 1-3 p.m.
There will be ancillary activities, too. "We'll have a hot dog eating contest in between innings," Grubbs said.
Fan Appreciation Day is a prelude to the opening series of the 2008 season when the Longhorns entertain Virginia Commonwealth Feb. 22, 23 and 24. The games on Feb. 23 and 24 feature a first pitch at noon, while the Feb. 22 encounter begins at 2:30 p.m.
"Opening day is a re-dedication of UFCU Disch-Falk Field," Grubbs said. "We'll introduce the entire squad and have a ceremonial first pitch. We're working on a flyover and we'll have Smokey the Cannon there for opening day."
On Feb. 23, the first 3,000 fans in the ballpark will receive a commemorative miniature of UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
APO will unfurl the Texas flag as part of the pregame ceremonies that day.
Opening weekend wraps up on Feb. 24 with the Longhorn Band playing the national anthem.
Grubbs, who also will serve as the public address announcer at UFCU Disch-Falk, said that there is a whole new feel to the ballpark that people will experience when they arrive.
And don't be surprised to see some fireworks at UFCU Disch-Falk this season and not just the kinds emanating from the Longhorns' big bats.