Even for a hearty Wisconsin native like Timber Rattlers general manager Rob Zerjav, the weather during the team's opening homestand last week was too much to bear.
After celebrating Wisconsin's first Midwest League championship in franchise history and an offseason $6.2 million renovation to Fox Cities Stadium on Opening Day last Tuesday, a combination of rain, sleet and snow—sometimes all in the same day—forced postponements in five of the team’s next six games. The Timber Rattlers managed to get in a doubleheader on Saturday—in 36-degree temperatures and 17-mph winds—and were optimistic about playing another one yesterday before a morning snowstorm dashed those hopes.
"A mini-blizzard showed up at around 11 (Sunday morning) and snow was coming down sideways. Within an hour we had an inch of snow on the ground," Zerjav said. "It's been more frustrating than disappointing. We've been through it before, so it's nothing too new. We'll lose games in April."
Zerjav is right—five lost openings to start a season is not unprecedented. In 2003, six of Wisconsin's first seven games were canceled.
"What's different this year is it has been a never-ending stretch of cold, wet weather. In the past, we'd see a couple of days (of bad weather) and it would be back up to 60 degrees. I'd don't know if we've 60 degrees this year . . .
"This year is just cold, cold, wet, wet, and it doesn't look like it's going to get better any better anytime soon."
Wisconsin did manage to pass out bobbleheads of Timber Rattlers manager (and Appleston, Wis. Native) Matt Erickson on Opening Night. Over 3,000 fans braved low-40s temperatures that night. "I've got to give them credit," Zerjav said. "Most of them looked like they were going to a Packers game, not a baseball game."
No Fighting In Reading
There was plenty of grumbling among fans and media this offseason in Reading after the Double-A Eastern League affiliate changed its name from Phillies to Fightin Phils and unveiled a new logo based off the team’s famed, ostrich-riding Crazy Hot Dog Vendor mascot. However, any concerns appear to have been erased after a successful opening homestand last weekend at FirstEnergy Stadium, in which Reading attracted 20,538 fans over three games.
Team officials have promised that the same promotions and ballpark experience that has made the club one of the top attractions in the minors won’t go away. And as proof, fans were welcomed to the ballpark on Friday night by the Fightins newest mascots, Ruth and Judy, a pair of ostriches. Also on display over the weekend was a lineup of promotions that included a Darin Ruf home run king bobblehead and 28-inch wood bat, and an on-field hitting challenge for kids.
Below is a round-up of last night's promotions and attendance. As always, attendance can be influenced by more than just promotions—just ask the Timber Rattlers.
ClintonCedar RapidsFamily Day Sunday, All Faiths Day and Sandwich Wrap Sunday2,0072,135GreensboroLakewoodFamily Sunday Funday5,1836,528
|Buffalo||Scranton/WB||Kids Weekend ($6 tickets); Buster’s Kids Club Sunday; Postgame Kids Run the Bases||7,537||6,976|
|Columbus||Indianapolis||Jake “The Diamond Dog” Appearance||6,248||5,888|
|Pawtucket||Rochester||Kids Run The Bases||5,657||7,537|
|Toledo||Louisville||Autograph Sunday, Kids Run the Bases||5,643||6,861|
|Syracuse||Lehigh Valley||High School Sports Day, MeetUp Day, Whistlestop Autograph Session||3,931||2,589|
|Charlotte||Durham||Family Day with the Knights, Umbrella Giveaway, 2013 Magnet Schedule Giveaway||2,597||4,199|
|PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE|
|Oklahoma City||Memphis||Kids Run the Bases||5,501||7,503|
|Omaha||Nashville||Family FUNday, Canned Food Sunday, Hit the Books Night||4,256||4,185|
|Reno||Sacramento||Family Funday (baseball bingo, facepainting), Championship Banner Giveaway||4,058||6,696|
|Tacoma||Salt Lake||Day Games at Cheney, Kids Run The Bases||3,864||4,616|
|New Orleans||Round Rock||Kids Day, Bark In The Park, Gumbo Appearance||3,855||7,081|
|Las Vegas||Colorado Springs||51s Soccer Scarf Day||3,142||6,079|
|Reading||Erie||Darin Ruf Home Run King 28″ Wooden Bat, Kids Club FREE Ticket Game with On-Field Hitting Challenge, Crazy About “Reading” w/ Fightin Phils Player Reading Session, Youth Baseball Day||5,411||6,846|
|Trenton||Richmond||Fred Beans Auto Group Customer Appreciation Day||5,163||5,259|
|Bowie||Akron||Capitals Day, Kids Fun Day, Read and Hit a Home Run Reading Day||5,103||4,302|
|New Britain||Portland||Pink T-Shirt Giveaway||4,097||3,885|
|Altoona||Harrisburg||Customer Appreciation Day, Youth Baseball Clinic, Kids’ Club Day, Kids Run the Bases||3,043||3,455|
|Tennessee||Chatttanooga||Youth Baseball Clinic||3,176||3,985|
|Birmingham||Mississippi||Breakin’ BBoy McCoy Appearance, Salute to Armed Forces||3,160||6,092|
|Huntsville||Jacksonville||YP Sunday specials (baseball bingo)||1,592||2,895|
|Mobile||Pensacola||Teddy’s Birthday/$1 Hot Dog/Kids Club||1,063||2,570|
|Frisco||Northwest Arkansas||Kids Run the Bases, Raising Cane’s Grand Slam Sunday, RoughRiders Horse Race||9,259||8,866|
|Tulsa||Corpus Christi||Souvenir Sunday, Kids Eat for FREE, Kids Baseball Skills Clinic, Drillers Pennant Giveaway, Kids Run the Bases||5,704||7,095|
|Springfield||San Antonio||Ice Cream Sundays, Kids Run the Bases||4,238||4,368|
|Midland||Arkansas||Family Day Discount – Midland Chamber Night||3,578||4,891|
|Lake Elsinore||Inland Empire||Sunday Funday||6,451||6,722|
|San Jose||Visalia||Salute to the Military Day Kids Run the Bases, Pre-Game Parade, Kids Eat Free Sunday, Pregame Clinic||2,802||2,714|
|Modesto||Lancaster||Sunday Funday & Catch on the Field||1,619||3,615|
|High Desert||Rancho Cucamonga||N/A||734||1,691|
|Bakersfield||Stockton||Opening Weekend Kids Club BBQ Sunday||547||963|
|Wilmington||Frederick||Sunday Fun Day||3,498||4,523|
|Salem||Myrtle Beach||Bark in the Park, Player Poster Giveaway and Autograph Session||1,655||2,804|
|Lynchburg||Potomac||Faith Sunday, Postgame Kids Run the Bases, Pregame Autographs, Kids Club Members Eat Free||1,310||2,709|
|FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE|
|Bradenton||St. Lucie||Wendy’s Family Fun Sunday||957||1,733|
|Fort Myers||Charlotte||Family Fun Sunday, Miracle Mini-Golf Tournament||909||2,134|
|Brevard County||Clearwater||Bark in the Park, Mini-Tees Night, Silver ‘Tees Night||760||1,506|
|Bowling Green||West Michigan||None||3,978||3,152|
|Fort Wayne||Lake County||Magnet Schedule Giveaway, Post-Game Autographs||2,818||3,512|
|Lansing||South Bend||Boy Scout Day||2,480||1,799|
|Clinton||Cedar Rapids||Family Day Sunday, All Faiths Day and Sandwich Wrap Sunday||2,007||2,135|
|Quad Cities||Peoria||Flat Screen Family Sunday, Bark in the Park, Kids Run the Bases, Affiliate Welcome Weekend||1,402||1,390|
|Wisconsin||Kane County||Brewers Sunday||ppd||2,612|
|SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE|
|Charleston||Augusta||Kids Opening Day, Kids T-Shirt Giveaway, Dog Day #1||3,282||4,536|
|Lexington||Greenville||Kids Club Sunday||2,402||3,256|
|Asheville||West Virginia||Family Fun Day||1,978||2,355|
|Savannah||Rome||Kids Eat Free Sunday||1,281||1,839|
|Hagerstown||Delmarva||Kids Run the Bases, Red Out Sundays||1,083||1,468|
|Kannapolis||Hickory||Schedule Magnet Giveaway, Kid’s Day, Lego Store Ballpark Build, Lego Store Night||1,026||2,111|