Weather Spoils Wisconsin’s Opening Week

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

Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
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
Norfolk Gwinnett None 4,610 4,211
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
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
Oklahoma City Memphis Kids Run the Bases 5,501 7,503
Iowa Albuquerque N/A 4,279 4,414
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
Tucson Fresno None 1,413 2,826
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
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
Binghamton New Hampshire None 1,187 1,591
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
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
Jackson Montgomery None 786 2,254
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
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
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
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
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
Wilmington Frederick Sunday Fun Day 3,498 4,523
Winston-Salem Carolina Nonee 3,498 5,791
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
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
Tampa Daytona None 1,001 1,601
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
Dunedin Lakeland None 653 989
Jupiter Palm Beach None 470 1,117
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
Dayton Great Lakes None 8,536 8,587
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
Beloit Burlington None 274 248
Wisconsin Kane County Brewers Sunday ppd 2,612
Team Opponent Promotion Attendance Season Average
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