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Chattanooga Lookouts photo / Chattanooga Lookouts outfielder TJ Hopkins is hitting .370 with 14 RBIs through 13 contests heading into Tuesday night's start of a six-game homestand against the Tennessee Smokies.

The Chattanooga Lookouts will stage their second homestand of the season this week, having already amassed more sellout crowds of 6,300-plus at AT&T Field than the past two years combined.

Okay, okay. So there wasn't a 2020 minor league season due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, and most of last year's crowds were restricted due to the continuing pandemic.

Still, when 6,361 fans watched the Lookouts and Birmingham Barons collide April 15 — a Friday night game that was followed by fireworks — it symbolized a turning back of the clock to better times.

"Everything feels back to normal and just like it was before," Lookouts president Rich Mozingo said Monday. "Every now and again something will pop its head up and remind you that it's not exactly the same, but everything the crowds see coming in, it's 100% back to normal. We're doing some little things differently, and there are some protocols that are involved in our clubhouse as far as who can go in and those sorts of things.

"As far as forward-facing and what everyone in Chattanooga is seeing, it's back to normal here."

The Lookouts are hosting the Tennessee Smokies in a six-game series that starts Tuesday night at 7:15 and runs through Sunday afternoon at 2:15.

Chattanooga's first homestand drew a total audience of 23,391 that included a healthy average of 4,307 for the first five games. That six-game set concluded on Easter Sunday, which is rarely a big draw at the ballpark and yielded a crowd of just 1,885.

"We knew Easter would be like that going in, but we had fantastic crowds and were super pleased about the other five games," Mozingo said. "It was an amazing homestand, honestly, and I was pleasantly surprised with how Chattanooga showed up."

There was fantastic weather for Chattanooga's first homestand, with more of the same projected this week. As for the team itself, the Lookouts dropped their first two games of the season at Tennessee by the combined score of 11-0 but have since reeled off nine wins in 13 contests to assemble a 9-6 record that matches the Biloxi Shuckers and the Rocket City Trash Pandas for the Southern League's best start.

Chattanooga is averaging 6.5 runs per game, having scored at least 25 more runs than every other league member.

The home staples are back this week with "Thirsty Thursday" followed by "Fireworks Friday" and "Used Car Saturday." The Lookouts adopted a single car giveaway each Saturday night last season instead of one huge evening in August and have maintained that this year.

"The dealers like it that way, we like it that way and the (sponsoring) Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union loves it that way," Mozingo said.

Saturday's game also will contain "Tyler's Amazing Balancing Act" featuring Tyler Scheuer, who balances everything from ladders to wheelbarrows on his nose or chin. He is the first of multiple entertainment acts the Lookouts have lined up this season, including visits from the inflatable Zooperstars in May and again in July.

"I love this guy because he does not stop," Mozingo said. "He'll start balancing things in the first inning and won't finish until the ninth inning. He is going to entertain all game long. There are some other acts that are designed to take an inning break here and there, but Tyler doesn't stop."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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