Salt Lake Trapper general manager Steve Pearson was pacing the floors of his Salt Lake City office Wednesday, and not just because of the pitching personnel problems that helped lead Wednesday night to the team's first loss of the season, 10-5 at Butte in a game that set a Pioneer League record for walks with 23.
Pearson was uptight about what will happen Thursday night at Derks Field turnstiles.Last year, 7,165 showed up for the home opener. It was that game, a 12-6 win over Pocatello, that kicked off the 29-game Streak.
"We'd like to increase that to about 8,000," said Pearson, who planned no opening-night promotions and now is wondering "if baseball will sell itself. I'm nervous."
Game time is 7 p.m.
At Butte Wednesday, the Trappers came up short for the first time after twin 7-6 wins over the Copper Kings Monday and Tuesday to start the season.
The Trappers once held a 5-3 lead, but a four-run Butte sixth, back-to-back run-producing triples doing the major damage, put the Coppers in control.
Salt Lake managed only four hits for the game, called third strikes a problem.
Actually, only one walker, Jeff Frye, scored in the Butte sixth, and the five Copper King pitchers issued 13 walks to the 10 given up by two Trappers. Still, the clubs blasted the old league record of 18 walks in a game. It had been reached three times, the last in 1976.
Salt Lake went into the opening series with only eight pitchers because the two Japanese imports have yet to arrive with visa problems. Middle-distance relief quickly becamed scarce, and Moss used his short relievers longer than he wanted in the first two games.
Wednesday Dean Tanner got into trouble from the start and finally had to leave in the sixth for Myron Gardner. Tanner took the loss after giving up a two-run triple to Thayer Swain. Gardner came on and allowed Rod Morris the Copper Kings' second straight triple.
Swain, recently cut by the U.S. Olympic team, was the night's batting star with four hits in five at-bats, two RBI and three runs scored, including a steal of home in the third.
In the third, Butte took a 3-0 lead with two runs to add to the one it got in the first when No. 1 draftee Monty Farris doubled in a run with two out. Travis Law walked to open the third, Swain singled, Morris had an RBI single and Swain later stole home.
A walk, groundout and two wild pitches scored Frye again in the Butte seventh, and Butte got two in the eighth on two walks, a fielder's choice and back-to-back singles.