“I guarantee you, for all the success and fun we have had, we will never be as bad as we were in 2010”, so spoke Richmond Squirrels Vice President and COO Todd “Parney” Parnell at the conclusion of the Squirrels inaugural season. Parney, who also serves as the Squirrels nonstop head cheerleader, is never satisfied when it comes to putting his version of the minor league baseball experience on the field. In spite of a season in which Richmond led the Eastern League in both attendance and fun(n), Parney vows that everything will be better in 2011.
Parney and his tireless staff have worked throughout the winter to expand on the success witnessed by nearly 464,000 fans last year. Party decks have been added to either side of the press box; a “cupid section” allows fans to enjoy the game from wicker love seats just outside the team store; Nutzville has been expanded for the kids; concessions have been broadened and remain below most ball parks in price. The Squirrels have partnered with Nike to make their top selling merchandise even more appealing, ushers are ever present to assist the fans and the stadium remains sparkling clean. Nutzy has a new sidekick in Zinger and a real, live “rally pig” will be on the ready to inspire come from behind victories throughout the summer. Showing respect for history, Parker the Rally Pig is named in honor of Parker Field.
The Halls attended Opening Night just as we do most seasons. The Squirrels dispensed the New Britain Rock Cats 6-4 showing a solid bullpen, timely hitting, and a good time for all. I am so impressed by the fact that The Diamond is not only filled with bodies, but also with unbridled happiness. Like at a college football game, virtually every fan is attired in a Flying Squirrels t-shirt, hat, or sweatshirt. Opening weekend saw about 30,000 paying customers come through the gate in spite of less than desirable weather on Friday and Saturday evenings.
The crowds will continue to grow, attracted by 21 fireworks nights and other promotions for each and every ball game. If you need an excuse other than baseball to venture out to the Boulevard this month, you can hunt Easter Eggs on the field on the 23rd, you can come meet Anson Williams of Happy Days fame on the 26th, you can see the SF Giants World Championship Trophy on the 27th, and you can skip school or work for a 10:30 a.m. first pitch on the 28th. Next month you can bring your dog to “Bark in the Park.” In June you can waste away with Jimmy Buffett Night. You can celebrate Christmas in July with an ACORNMENT giveaway, and in August you can be entertained by the Phillie Phanatic.
The simple fact of the matter is that if you haven’t been out to The Diamond since the Braves fled, you are cheating yourself out of the best time you can have in Richmond for $6.
Have Fun(n), Go Nutz!