SALT LAKE CITY — The sharp crack of a bat as it makes near perfect contact with the ball.
The smack of a well-worn leather glove as a hard hit line drive is reeled in.
Vendors peddling their goods, with the smell of hot dogs and popcorn wafting through the air.
Public address announcers notifying the crowd of each new batter who steps up to the plate, each with their own personalized walk-up song.
The unique and almost unintelligible cry of "stee-rike" from a home plate umpire.
Any and all of those are indicative of just one thing: baseball.
As of Tuesday afternoon, baseball is back. More specifically, it is Salt Lake Bees baseball that is back.
The Bees hosted its annual media day at Smith’s Ballpark Tuesday, ushering in the 2019 season. The latest campaign is a special one, as it marks the 25th anniversary of the Triple-A franchise.
“This is our 25th anniversary season,” Bees general manager Marc Amicone said. “Usually we are asked about new things, but this year will be about a lot of old things.”
Among the things the Bees will bring back are throwback uniforms from the many incarnations of the team, such as the Buzz and Stingers.
There will also be an all new 25th anniversary gold uniform, in commemoration of the last quarter century.
“We are going to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this franchise,” Amicone said.
Tasked with leading the celebration will be a new manager — Lou Marson.
Fittingly, he is old, too.
Marson was the Bees’ hitting coach in 2017, serving on longtime manager Keith Johnson’s staff.
Last year, he managed the Los Angeles Angels Double-A affiliate, the Mobile Bay Bears, a stint which marked his first as a professional skipper.
At 32 years old, Marson is the 10th manager in franchise history.
“I am excited,” Marson said. “It is nice to be here in Salt Lake. They treat the players well here and have taken great care of me so far. I’m looking forward to it.”
Not too long ago, Marson was a major league catcher, with both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cleveland Indians.
In fact, he was one of the 10 best catchers in baseball as far as his ability to throw runners out.
Shoulder surgery in the spring of 2016 ended his playing dreams, however.
“I couldn’t even throw a party anymore,” Marson said with a laugh. “That was one of my strengths as a player, being able to catch and throw. I wasn’t able to do it anymore. I wasn’t able to play in the big leagues.”
Instead, he embarked on a coaching career that now has him managing one of the premiere Pacific Coast League franchises.
“We are happy to have Lou here and excited for the season to come up,” said Amicone.
Helping Marson in his inaugural season is arguably the most talented Bees roster in years.
The team boasts three of the Angels top-10 prospects, according to Baseball America, including shortstop Luis Rengifo and first baseman Matt Thaiss.
Thaiss brought home the coveted Fred Haney Award this spring, which is awarded to the most impressive rookie in Angels spring training.
Rengifo, meanwhile, was singled out by both Marson and Thaiss for his talent.
“I like Luis Rengifo,” said Marson. “Exciting shortstop, switch hitter. He is just an electric player. Keep him on the field and keep getting him at bats and we should do pretty well.”
“We have a very young clubhouse and it is a very talented clubhouse,” Thaiss added. “We have guys like Luis Rengifo. He is exciting. We are going to have a very good team.”
One of the new additions to this year’s club is BYU alum and former Bingham High star Brennon Lund.
Lund was an 11th round draft pick of the Angels in 2016, after which he spent time with the Burlington Bees, the Orem Owlz, the Bay Bears and the Inland Empire 66ers, all of whom fall under the Angels umbrella.
To make it to Salt Lake is a dream come true.
“Definitely a dream come true,” Lund said. “I am really excited to be here, excited to get to this level. Getting here is something I’ve looked forward to since I’ve been in the Angels' system.”
As for Lund’s potential, the majors may not be too far off.2 comments on this story
“He is a really good player, a solid center fielder and he will play a lot for us,” said Marson. “He just has to continue to progress and hopefully we can get him to the big leagues soon.”
Ultimately that is the goal for everyone involved with the organization: to help each and every player make it to The Show.
“It is great to win at this level, but that is not the most important thing,” Marson said. “We want to get as many guys to the big leagues as we can, to develop these players, to get them to the big leagues and to help the Angels win. That is what we are about.”