TROY — Some said it wouldn’t last. That was 17 years ago, long before the first pitch was thrown by the nascent Class A affiliate Dayton Dragons baseball team.
In 2000, Fifth Third Field was built, christened and the first team rocked America’s favorite pastime. On Jan. 19, Troy Rotarians listened as Tom Nichols, the voice of the Dayton Dragons, shared this and other information on the team that is number one in attendance for ballfields under AAA category.
Win or lose, the Dragons have sold out the 7,500 seat field for 1,121 consecutive games, smashing the previous record of 814 held by the Portland Trailblazers, and the 2016 season is on track to be a sellout. This is thanks, in part, to the team’s focus of making a trip to Fifth Third Field a family experience rather than just about baseball. Heeter, the mascot, helps entertain the crowds. Contests, such as the Toddler Run, keep attendees engaged throughout the nine innings. In 1999, writer Hal McCoy predicted that minor league baseball would not make it in Dayton because he felt the Miami Valley lacked the necessary passion to support a team. Needless to say, he has since recanted that prediction.
The players, trainers and coaches are provided by the Cincinnati Reds while the Dragons take care of the travel and the facility. Seventy-five Dragons players have gone on to the majors, working their way through the Reds’ rookie ball tryout process. Single A ball is played in Dayton. Daytona is the AA club. Louisville is AAA and the last gateway into the major leagues. Only ten percent of all players who begin in rookie ball make it to the big leagues where the average player earns more than $4 million a year. To learn more about the club and upcoming season, visit www.daytondragons.com.
Troy Rotarians, and the Troy Rotary Foundation, support several community projects annually. In 2014-15, more than $16,000 in scholarships and community aid was distributed from the fund, including support for the annual Shoe Project, Troy After Prom and sponsorships to summer camps at Brukner Nature Center and Waco Air Museum. Club members are always looking for new topics to share at weekly meetings. If you are interested in presenting your business or organization, visit the Troy Rotary website at www.troyohiorotary.org and submit your information in the “Contact Us” section. Troy Rotary is a member-involved, goal-oriented service club focused on socio/economic issues that have an impact both locally and internationally. You can follow their activities on Facebook at Troy Rotary Club.