Annual LPS fifth grade Lincoln Saltdogs outing returns

LPS fifth grade students greet the Saltdogs Mascot Homer during their visit to Haymarket Park.

Lincoln Public Schools brought back an annual tradition this spring.

After a five-year hiatus, more than 3,000 LPS fifth-grade students packed into Haymarket Park to watch the Lincoln Saltdogs on May 23. 

They cheered on the team as they faced off against the Fargo Moorhead RedHawks. Seats were filled with students adorned in colorful shirts to showcase their school pride. With only a few more days left in the 2022 - 2023 school year, the mini fans said the trip to the ballpark was a great way to cap their fifth-grade experience.

“I’ve hung onto school for a long time and it’s just a really nice way to end the school year like this because I actually really love baseball. It’s my favorite sport,” Randolph student Mason said. 

LPS played key roles before and during the game. Superintendent Paul Gausman started the festivities with the first pitch. Two mini managers, Sam from Wysong and Rylee from Brownell, helped the team managers with the lineup and shouting “play ball” before the game.  After that, fifth graders named junior watchdogs rushed the field with each starting player. Kloefkorn serenaded the stands with the national anthem. 

A group of students also got a chance to practice their broadcasting skills in the booth as mini PAs like Wysong student Olivia. She announced players up to bat as they approached the plate.

“It was really cool because I got to see the game from an area that I’m not used to. I always hear people announcing and I never got to, so I just thought it was really fun,” Olivia added.

East High School’s Varsity boys’ baseball team stepped onto the field for recognition during the pregame. The Spartans recently clenched the state baseball title making them the first Lincoln class A team to have the honor since 1977. 

LPS has been taking fifth-grade students to watch the Saltdogs play for more than a decade. The day not only teaches them about sportsmanship but also reinforces the school district’s work toward positive behaviors. It also opens the door for kids to go to a professional baseball game for the first time.

“Once you get every kid in here, the energy is unbelievable. It’s great. It’s become one of my favorite days of the year,” Matt Avey said.  

Avey is the Health and Physical Education curriculum specialist for LPS. He helps organize the outing.  The day at the ballpark is successful thanks to the partnership with the Lincoln Saltdogs. The Saltdogs organization helps with the busing from all the elementary schools, feeding students and ensuring each student gets a ticket. 

“It’s just really an awesome opportunity. We appreciate the Lincoln Saltdogs and Charlie Meyer,” Avey added. 

“To have LPS back after five years is really incredible. I forgot how much energy comes into this place when all these kids come into the ballpark,” Saltdogs President Charlie Meyer said. “It’s a great fun day for Lincoln and the community. It’s great for Lincoln Public Schools to have the kids come out and enjoy the game.” 

LPS plans to keep the tradition going strong, welcoming another group of fifth graders to the stadium next spring. 

Check out the game's highlights below in our photo gallery.

CLICK HERE to see the event's interactive timeline.


Published: May 26, 2023, Updated: May 30, 2023