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Flying Squirrels Celebrating Opening Night With Panik Appearance

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Former MLB All-Star Joe Panik will be on hand at The Diamond on Tuesday, April 9 as the Richmond Flying Squirrels celebrate Opening Night.

Panik, who played for the Flying Squirrels in 2013, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the team’s home opener against the Akron RubberDucks.

“I’m excited to share with you that I’ll be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch that night,” Panik said. “I can’t wait to see you all there.”

The Flying Squirrels’ home opener is set for 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9 with the ballpark gates opening at 5 p.m. Individual-game tickets for all 2024 home games, including Opening Night, go on sale Saturday, March 2 at Nutzy’s Block Party.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Joe join us to kick off the 2024 season,” Flying Squirrels Vice President and General Manager Ben Rothrock said. “It’s the first time we have had the opportunity to honor a former Squirrel in this capacity. The fact that he is a former All-Star and World Series champion makes it even more special.”

PREVIOUS OPENING NIGHT CEREMONIAL FIRST PITCHES

2010 – Gov. Bob McDonnell

2011 – James Farrior, Brandon Rozzell & Chris Mooney

2012 – Dale Murphy

2013 – Javy Lopez & Ryan Kerrigan

2014 – Michael Robinson

2015 – Will Wade (caught by Gov. Terry McAuliffe)

2016 – Jerome Bettis

2017 – David Justice (caught by Mayor Levar Stoney)

2018 – Fred McGriff & Gov. Ralph Northam (caught by Mayor Levar Stoney)

2019 – Ryan Klesko

2022 – Will Clark

2023 – Robert Wuhl

Panik played a record-tying 137 games during the 2013 season with the Flying Squirrels. On May 13, 2013 against the Trenton Thunder, he started a game-winning triple play in the ninth inning. He began the 2014 season with Triple-A Sacramento before making his MLB debut with the Giants that June. In Game 7 of the World Series that fall, he made a famous diving stop and glove flip to start a double play and helped the Giants clinch their third championship in five years.

He spent six season with the Giants, earning a National League All-Star selection in 2015 and a Gold Glove Award in 2016. Following his time in San Francisco, Panik played for the New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins. He now serves as a special assistant for the Giants.

Opening Night group packages are on sale now at SquirrelsBaseball.com, by phone at 804-359-3866 or in person at the Flying Squirrels ticket office.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.