‘Bull Durham’ Racing Mascots Lead Attendance Tracker

It was Opening Day all over again around the minor leagues, as four teams kicked off their home schedule—and did so with typical minor league flair.

The Durham Bulls drew the largest crowd of the night, as 8,035 fans came out to Durham Bulls Athletic Park to check out the Rays affiliate's prospect-laden roster. They also got a look at one of the ways the Bulls plan to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the movie that put the team—and minor league baseball as an industry—on the map.

As part of their tribute to "Bull Durham"—no, Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon were not at the ballpark—the Bulls unveiled a trio of racing mascots in the likeness of the film's stars.

The Brewers have racing sausages. The Nationals race the country’s forefathers. The Bulls, this season, will line up Crash, Nuke and Annie every game for a dash around the track. Durham Racers

And for anyone keeping track, Annie breathed through her eyelids all the way to a victory in the debut race.

Also celebrating Opening Day last night were the Bowling Green Hot Rods (South Atlantic), Lexington Legends (South Atlantic) and Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Midwest).

The opener in Wisconsin marked the first game at Fox Cities Stadium since the 18-year-old ballpark underwent a $6 million renovation during the offseason. Just over 3,000 fans braved chilly temperatures to check out the new-and-improved ballpark, which now features a club level that can seat 250 people, twice as many restrooms as before, an expanded concourse and team store, and a renovated home clubhouse. Fans in attendance also got to take home a bobblehead of Matt Erickson with a championship trophy. And just who is Matt Erickson, you may wonder. Only the hometown kid who guided Wisconsin to its first-ever Midwest League championship last season.

"I think (trainer Jeff) Paxson told me it's the first bobblehead ever that's going to be given out that's life-size," Erickson told the Post Crescent (Appleton, Wis.), poking fun at the former Brewers minor leaguer's 5-foot-11 frame. "So I just might put it at third base when I get hungry and go up top and get a bite to eat if I need some time off. Just have the bobblehead stand out there at third."

Conflicting Cardinals
Attracting fans to the ballpark on an early April Monday evening can be challenging enough—just ask the seven teams that drew fewer than 1,000 fans last night. That task can be even more challenging when the hometown college hoops teams is playing in the NCAA title game.

Such was the case last night for the Triple-A Louisville Bats (International), as much of its fanbase in basketball-mad Kentucky were focusing on the Louisville Cardinals knocking off Michigan for the school's first championship since 1986.  Officially, 4,453 fans turned out attendance at Louisville Slugger Field, but "the turnstile (count) was a lot less than that," Bats director of media relations Chadwick Fischer said.

Include Fischer, a 2009 Louisville graduate,  among those on staff whose attention may have drifted away the playing field to the running score of the basketball game displayed on the videoboard—or even the many mobile devices in the pressbox streaming the game. "Thank goodness for the March Madness app," he said.

Below is a round-up of last night’s promotions and attendance. Keep in mind that attendance can be influenced by more than just promotions—like brisk temperatures throughout much of the Midwest League last night.

Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
Durham Gwinnett Opening Day, Fireworks 8,035 8,035
Lehigh Valley Pawtucket None 6,912 7,516
Louisville Columbus Meijer Monday 4,453 7,439
Buffalo Syracuse None 4,314 8,383
Scranton/WB Rochester $1 Hot Dogs 3,054 5,422
Indianapolis Toledo Monday Dollar Menu 2,924 6,314
Norfolk Charlotte None 2,551 3,690
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
Albuquerque Omaha N/A 5,811 6,508
Round Rock Iowa $1.00 Hot Dogs & Sodas 4,027 7,228
Sacramento Tacoma Throwback Mondays 3,948 6,178
Memphis New Orleans Chick-fil-A Mondays 3,555 7,051
Fresno Las Vegas Monday Madness 3,146 7,385
Nashville Oklahoma City Dollar Hot Dog Night 1,601 3,386
Colorado Springs Tucson Kids Eat Free Monday 1,546 3,992
Salt Lake Reno None ppd 5,144
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
Richmond Bowie Fountain of Youth Night, Reading Night #1, McDonald’s Monday, $1 Hot Dogs 4,592 6,335
New Hampshire Trenton College Night 3,905 4,804
Portland Reading None 2,253 3,532
Erie Binghamton Buck Night 1,712 1,718
Harrisburg New Britain None 1,348 2,928
Akron Altoona Hot Tub Party 1,016 2,651
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
Chattanooga Huntsville Hamilton Place Night 4,975 4,942
Pensacola Tennessee Social Media Monday 4,328 4,896
Jacksonville Jackson Senior Citizens Day 1,711 4,009
Mississippi Mobile Clinton Night, Make a Difference Monday 1,541 2,299
Montgomery Birmingham None 1,498 3,945
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
Corpus Christi Tulsa One Dollar Hot Dogs & Soda 4,875 5,608
Northwest Arkansas Frisco $1.00 Hot Dog Night, Baseball Bingo, Monday Night Lights 2,663 4,260
Arkansas Midland $3 Discount Ticket Coupon 2,132 4,057
San Antonio Springfield None 2,031 3,887
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
Lancaster Lake Elsinore Make-A-Difference Mondays ppd 2,251
Inland Empire High Desert Man’s Best Friend Monday 3,726 3,165
Stockton San Jose 2 Buck Mondays 1,708 2,787
Rancho Cucamonga Modesto Social Media Monday 819 2,224
Visalia Bakersfield Make A Difference Monday 553 1,784
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
Potomac Salem $1 Monday, 2013 Magnet Schedules 1,874 2,638
Carolina Wilmington None 869 2,979
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
No games scheduled
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
Bowling Green Lansing Opening Day 2013, Opening Day T-Shirt Giveaway, Post-Game Fireworks 4,072 4,072
Wisconsin Cedar Rapids Opening Day, Matt Erickson w/ Trophy Bobblehead Giveaway, Post Game Fireworks, Qdoba Q’Monday 3,036 3,036
Kane County Clinton Ozzie’s Reading Club, Run The Bases 1,584 2,531
Peoria Beloit Markdown Mania Monday 1,088 1,966
West Michigan Fort Wayne All Faiths Night 976 2,415
South Bend Dayton Belly Buster Monday 902 2,422
Great Lakes Lake County Social Media Monday 837 1,559
Burlington Quad Cities Dollar Monday 595 564
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
Lakewood Hagerstown Magnetic Schedules, Most Improved Student Night, Ocean Head Start Night, Kids Eat Free 4,190 5,706
Lexington Asheville Ford Fireworks, MHFCU Kids Eat Free, Opening Day! 4,132 4,132
Savannah Augusta $1 Monday 2,002 2,135
Rome Greensboro None 1,587 2,941
West Virginia Charleston Family Buck Night 1,479 1,719
Delmarva Kannapolis 2 Buck Monday 1,276 3,558
Hickory Greenville We’re Still Here! Celebration, Special Olympics Night, BINGO, Senior 2-for-1, WSVM Night 1,121 2,056