Norman Rockwell could not have painted a more picturesque day for baseball in Toledo on Wedensday.
The Toledo Mud Hens hosting the parent-club Detroit Tigers for the first time since 2000 and for the first time ever at Fifth-Third Field.
Detroit won the game 8-3, thanks in-part to former Mud Hen Ryan Raburn, who hit a two run triple, part of five run third inning.
"It was awesome," said Raburn. "Especially coming back here. I had some great memories coming back here. Playing in front of this crowd at this park, you know. I've had some great times here but I think I'm a little better off being on the other side right now."
Hens Manager Phil Nevin was not as interested in the outcome of the exhibition but the fact it was even being played.
"It was a special day for this city, without a doubt," said Nevin. "I know everybody's been looking forward to it for a long time. I don't think it disappointed."
Tigers skipper Jim Leyland said he hoped the game would be played on Tuesday, so his team could get a workout at Comerica Park prior to tomorrow's opener against Boston.
However, the Perrysburg native recognized the significance of playing in northwest Ohio.
"This is great," said Leyland. "The Mud Hens are a great affiliation with us. We really appreciate that. We're very grateful for that. We wanted to do something nice for them."
Detroit pitcher Duane Below had a nice 36 hours.
Just yesterday we interviewed him in the Mud Hen clubhouse after he drove all night from Tigers camp in Florida to Toledo, arriving at 4:00 in the morning.
Then, before the sun went down, he was re-called to Detroit to replace Luis Marte who injured himself in the final spring training game.
On Wednesday morning there was Below at Fifth-Third Field, not wearing Hens gear but the old English 'D'.
"I figured I'd be here awhile until I could figure things out," said Below. "It's unfortunate Marte got hurt but...I'm going to try to do my best to fill-out the position."
Detroit hosts the Red Sox at 1:00 on Thursday.
The Mud Hens season opener is Friday against Indianapolis at Fifth-Third Field at 5:00.