Oakland Ballers inaugural home open a win for fans, community

OAKLAND, Calif. - Oakland's brand-new professional baseball team, the Oakland Ballers or B's, played their inaugural home opener before a sold-out crowd at Raimondi Park Tuesday evening.

The independent Pioneer League team didn't close out the night with a victory - the score was 9-3 against the Yolo High Wheelers.

Still, it was a huge win for the community and for professional baseball in Oakland if you ask the sellout crowd of 4,100 people at Raimondi Park.

James Manion gave up his A's season tickets a few years ago and was fully decked out in Ballers gear.

"We got to be fully representing. I think this might have been the first Ballers cap off the line," he said.

Cesar Jauregui played bass drums with his friends before the game, taking their talents from Oakland Coliseum tailgate to the Ballers parking lot.

"We wanted to come support the Ballers, because they're going to be supporting our community," he said.

Team fan group Oakland 68s, which led the "SELL" movement to send a message to the A's owner to stay in Oakland, said this was the opening day they always look forward to.

"Opening day is always a holiday, obviously with the other team trying to move, we didn't really get that holiday this year," said president Jorge Leon. "This is a good one, because this team actually wants to be here."

Oakland rapper Mistah F.A.B. had the honor of being the first at bat.

Mayor Sheng Thao also cheered on the team from the stands.

A fixture at A's games, Hal the Hot Dog Guy, said the new digs felt like home.

"It feels like I'm back with my family. There was just so much bitterness, so much disappointment the last couple years and finally we're back to joy," he said. "Baseball's supposed to be about fun stuff, it's supposed to be about hot dogs, and sauerkraut, and mustard and ketchup."

The players also greeted fans as they walked into the refurbished park.

"We got out here this morning and finally got to see it and get out here, shocked to see how far it's come along since the beginning," said Oakland Ballers pitcher Elijah Pleasants. "Now to see it fully going is amazing."

"Six weeks ago this was mud, and there was no stands, so we're completely amazed because I kind of didn't think it would happen," said fan Katie Egeland.

The Oakland A's played Tuesday evening at Oakland Coliseum with an attendance of 5,624, about 1,500 more people than the Oakland Ballers hosted.