Two things occurred recently that brought to mind the Dayton Dragons. The hugely successful and entertaining Major League Baseball All Star Game held at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati and a minor league mid-season party with our friends of over 16 years who have been attending, celebrating and commiserating about the Dragons (and enjoying the occasional adult beverage) for 16 seasons now in our home seating section at 5/3 Field. This is what baseball USED TO feel like when I was a kid!
Prior to the Dragons making Dayton their home I had really lost much of my interest in the game that I had played, and loved in my youth. It had become a game of dollars rather than a game of fans. Team loyalty was waning by both players and fans and the idea of meeting players and getting autographs, when it did happen you needed to have your checkbook out.
All that changed with Season One of the Dayton Dragons. From the intimate design of the stadium to the availability of, and access to, the players. The reasonable ticket prices haven’t forced us to get a second mortgage and the constant, modestly tweaked concessions make us skip supper just to grab a treat at the park. Again, it’s a culinary adventure affordable to all comers regardless of income level. It has truly brought back the “family” feeling so far removed for years in the big leagues.
I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying the team and game at two levels; sitting with dear friends for the games and writing about, and talking about the team on the radio and in my newspaper column and blog. I get a unique perspective in both roles and the overlapping views give me quite a total feel!
The past 16 years with our friends have given us a bonding experience that will stay with us long past the season’s games are wrapped up. We have a Spring Training Party, a Mid-Season break Party and a Playoff/non-Playoff Post-season Party; and occasionally an unplanned get-together.
These are great fans, fantastic friends and truly family. And you know what? I bet there are dozens, if not hundreds of groups like ours all over the stadium (although none better than ours). We even have the greatest Dragons fan ever. He’s a man so generous even when he’s celebrating an event in his life, he makes sure we all have magnificent Dragons gifts. Don (Mr. Dragon) even rebuilt a room in his and Joanne’s home and made it a Dragons museum; and that is NO exaggeration! He couldn’t wait until the team arrived that day nearly two decades ago now.
The nature of a farm team is to bring up new players. As a result, ironically, by bringing up great players (like Joey Votto and hundreds more) it can cause the team’s record to reflect an unrealistic win-loss total. But win or lose, the fans are always there.
I think what I’m trying to say is that the Dayton Dragons, who still hold the consecutive sellout record for ALL major sports franchises in America, have initiated a true rebuilding of a once deteriorating part of Dayton and brought families and friends together with bonds that didn’t exist 17years ago has earned the designation of a true historic institution in the city that brought us the inventors of flight and so much more.
By the way, many games still have seats, lawn and others, available for the rest of this half of the season. Call 937-228-2287. Be a part of that history and have a great all-American day. Oh and say hi to Heater for me.