AMERICAN PASTIME BORROWS A PAGE FROM AMERICAN IDOL: Fans will vote to decide Boulders opening day starting pitcher

THE BILL VEECK OF ROCKLAND COUNTY: Boulders President Ken Lehner isn’t afraid to entertain his audience
REPLACED BY YOU: Rockland Boulders Manager Jamie Keefe will experience role reversal next week as Boulders fans decide the starting pitcher of May 18’s home opener and a fan turns in the team’s lineup card to umpires

POMONA-The Rockland Boulders announced Sunday that Boulders fans will choose the starting pitcher of the team’s home opener via internet voting.

Beginning Tuesday, May 8 at 9 a.m. and lasting through Tuesday, May 15 at 12 p.m., fans will be driven via social media to the Boulders website at www.rocklandboulders.com/sprint-starting-pitcher to vote on one of three possible pitchers to start the home opener, which takes place May 18. Boulders manager Jamie Keefe announced the three possible pitchers – Bo Budkevics, Richard Salazar and Markus Solbach – on May 8 via Facebook.

The Boulders said the promotion is the first of its kind in the history of professional baseball, calling it “the ultimate convergence of professional sports and social media.” Telecommunications giant Sprint has partnered with the Pomona-based franchise on the project.

Boulders President Ken Lehner said, “In this day and age sports are being consumed differently.  Due to emerging technology fans expectations have changed and we recognize that. We are creating an experience that is truly the essence of fantasy baseball. Fans essentially become Manager Jamie Keefe. This is not an on-line All-Star vote. This is a critical decision that sets in motion the starting rotation for the entire season.”

All fans that vote will receive two ticket vouchers to the Boulders home opener. Fans who vote for the winning pitcher and then attend the game will be able to enjoy a meet and greet with the pitcher post game. Completing the fantasy experience, one winner will be able to throw out the first pitch and present the Boulders lineup card to the umpires at home plate prior to the game. Lehner said this fan will “in essence [become] the Boulders manager.”

The Boulders begin their seventh season when they host the Sussex County Miners on May 18, 7 p.m.at Palisades Credit Union Park in Pomona.