SLOAN COLUMN: Flamingos are ready to take flight
In just over a week, some young ball players in spanking new bright pink uniforms will step out of the dugout and take their positions on a brand new field in a brand new stadium.
The crowd will cheer, the National Anthem will be sung, and the home plate umpire will bark, “Play Ball!”
The Florence Flamingos are about to take flight.
The team formerly known as the RedWolves will open the season on the road against the Savannah Bananas on Thursday and the Macon Bacon on Friday before returning home on Saturday for their home opener against the Blowfish of Lexington County.
It will be a big night for the Flamingos and the new ownership team led by President Cameron Kovach and the City of Florence. The game will serve as a christening for Carolina Bank Field, the 1,400-seat centerpiece of the city’s new $16 million sports complex located next to the Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center.
The game has been sold out for several weeks. There will be fireworks following the game, but the Flamingos’ front office will sure be hoping for plenty of explosions off the bats of the “Pinkies” during the game. The new stadium will be feted and praised for a few weeks, but it will eventually wear off. The Flamingos success in the win column, on the attendance sheets, and in the financial ledgers will be dependent upon how well the team performs on the field.
Head coach Lane Harvey will lead the flock from the dugout. He’s a Coastal Plains League veteran who spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach in Holly Springs and Macon. He’s the current graduate assistant coach at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan.
The Flamingos’ inaugural roster is loaded with 40 players from every collegiate level. There are several players from Div. I schools. Pitchers Landon Lucas and Patrick Bott are on loan from Clemson. Brothers Clayton and Alex Peterson, who will man the outfield for Florence, played at Missouri last season. Both recently entered the transfer portal. Pitchers Lathan Todd and Devin Beckley are cadets at The Citadel.
There are also several local connections. Pitchers Todd Mattox and Corey Poulsen as well as outfielder Will Hardee suit up for Francis Marion.
It’s been some time since a team from Florence won the Coastal Plains crown. Wouldn’t it be great for the Flamingos era to begin with a championship feather to put in their caps?
Name the Mascot
The Flamingos revealed their new mascot last week. As one might expect, it’s tall, pink, and feathery. It’s bio on the team website says the bird loves eating Bacon, Bananas, Marlin and Blowfish but is afraid of Sharks. Those all happen to be teams in the Coastal Plain League where the Flamingos play. The one thing it’s missing is a name, and the team is now holding a contest to let fans do just that.
“Our new mascot could be either male or female, depending on the name selected,” said Kovach. “We want the local Florence community to help us name our feathered friend and make him/her part of the community.”
The mascot and name will be unveiled live and in person at the Florence After Five event on Friday, May 27 in downtown Florence. The lucky person who suggests the winning name will receive a $200 Flamingos merchandise shopping spree at the team store and tickets to Opening Night.
To suggest a name, go to www.florenceflamingos.com/about-us/namethemascot/ and enter your name suggestion.
The Flamingos are still looking for up to five families to be host families for players for the upcoming season.
A host family simply provides a place for the player to sleep and when occasionally needed, a place for them to cook dinner. It’s providing a home away from home for a young college player looking to further their professional aspirations.
“Our players are very respectful of their host families,” said Kovach. “Our host families set the rules and guidelines for the players and every one of our players follows them or they will not be part of our team.”
Not only does a host family get to develop a relationship with a potential professional baseball player but they also receive a variety of perks, including free tickets to Flamingos game.
Contact Editor Bob Sloan at editor @florencenewsjournal.com