For Sun City residents Jay and Diane Allen, there’s definitely something entertaining about minor league baseball games.
And all of those Mustache- and Red Neck-themed nights and cats-riding-dogs-riding-unicycles shenanigans are OK, too.
But Jay barely sees all of that extra stuff — the delightful nonsense that minor league baseball teams depend on to lure fans and families from the bright glowing light that is the major leagues.
The 75 year old is too busy enjoying the crack of a bat, filling out old-school scorekeeper sheets and looking at each player’s stats to care much. Sometimes, he’s just keeping an eye on the Lake Elsinore Storm‘s dugout to catch the facial expressions of manager and hitting coach Phil Plantier.
“I’m a diehard baseball fan,” said Jay, who has been attending Lake Elsinore Storm games with his wife since 1994 and are longtime season ticket holders. “I couldn’t care less what the front office does. I just go to watch the baseball game and prospective major leaguers, is what they are.”
A former ballplayer in the army, Jay is one of the sport’s fans who still comes “just to watch baseball.” He wants to see it all — the good plays, the bad plays.
“The promotions don’t mean nothing to me,” he said.
The Allens are not alone, as evidenced by the 1,000 attendees at Tuesday’s Nothing Night at the Storm’s Diamond Stadium.
The annual one-night non-promotion promotion, of sorts, attracted its largest audience to date, and it’s been growing in popularity for the last couple of years.
“Last year was better than the year before,” said Director of Ticketing JT Onyett, who estimated about 700 attended last year.
According to staff, they’re the first minor league team to ever come up with the idea.
“We have something for everybody. You might not like ‘Sheen-co de Mayo,’ but we have this night,” Onyett said.
“This” is a promotion-less night. It’s a free game of baseball for anyone who wants to walk in. No ticket necessary. There is no parking fee, no concessions, no mascot, no video boards, no announcer, no music, no between-inning games.
Typically held the day after the minor league team’s biggest night of the season — Fourth of July — the event serves to give staff a break as well as give fans a completely opposite experience from the night before. A crowd of 8,000 attended Monday’s Fourth of July game.
Onyett said that he thinks the night still is confusing for some fans, especially those who come out specifically for the promotions and antics of the Rally Cop and Lady Ga-Gorilla, but the pared-down night is obviously catching on.
“I do think there are some baseball purists out there who really enjoy this night,” he said.
Murrieta resident Raul Aragon, 58, saw an ad for Nothing Night on the Storm’s website while looking for Fourth of July tickets. He decided it would be a fun evening to spend with his son Thomas, 14. And the price was right — free.
The two sat side-by-side Tuesday, sipping Capri Suns and chewing a pack of sunflower seeds.
“It’s such a pleasant evening to go out to the park,” the longtime baseball fan said.
Thomas, who was silently watching the game, said the best thing about the night was “just hanging out with family, having a good time.”
Raul was concerned that the concession weren’t open, thus helping the Storm to cover some of its costs for running lights and employing a few of its staff for the evening.
Said Raul: You’d hate to see this go away.”
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