Fans in Fort Wayne, Indiana, really love their baseball team!
Their love for the Tin Caps was certainly evident, even as the team lost to league rivals, the Dayton Dragons, during a recent game at home. Fans remained upbeat and fully behind their team, with few of the 9000-plus crowd leaving before the game's end or the short fireworks show that capped the evening.
We always like watching minor league baseball or hockey games when we travel because they seem like a lot more fun and the fans seem a lot more enthusiastic than the fans at Big League games in our experience.
The team celebrated Social Media Night with hash tag, Twitter and Instagram contests as well as a visit from Jake the Diamond Dog, who delivered game balls to the pitcher, took water to the umpires during the game, caught flying discs and delivered flowers to a fan chosen as the Sweetheart of the Game.
Tin Caps' fans seemed especially spirited when we were at their Parkview Field, and that made the game a winning experience for us!
The Tin Caps, a Class A minor league baseball team in the Midwest League affiliated with the San Diego Padres, won their first Midwest League Championship in 2009 and clinched playoff spots in subsequent seasons. I'm sure that gives fans plenty to cheer about and fuel hope for many more winning games to come.
The team, established in 1993 at Fort Wayne, actually dates back to 1947 when they were the part of the Illinois League as a team from Mattoon, Illinois. The team moved to Keokuk, Iowa in 1958, then to Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin in 1963, then to Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1984 before coming to Fort Wayne in 1993.
The Fort Wayne team started life in that city as the Fort Wayne Wizards and as a farm team for the Minnesota Twins before becoming a San Diego Padres affiliate in 1999.
Fans filled the team's old Memorial Stadium, breaking a record for attendance during the 1993 season when 318,506 fans cheered on the team.
The Wizards performed a disappearing act in at the end of the 2008 season, reappearing in 2009 with a new baseball stadium and a new name.
Parkview Field in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne opened its doors in 2009, and fans set a new season attendance record of 378,529 during a record-setting 94 wins that first season in the team's new home.
The team's new name, the Tin Caps, was a tip of the hat to John Chapman (also known as "Johnny Appleseed") who lived in Fort Wayne for a few years before his death and burial there at the age of 70 in 1845.
Appleseed looms large in legend, especially if you grew up watching the fictionalized Disney shorts and feature films about his life as a planter of apple trees and orchards throughout the Midwest, which portrayed him as wearing a tin sauce pan as a hat. Historians dispute many of these accounts of Appleseed and his eccentric apparel, but there's no question that the figure looms large at Parkview Field.
The team's mascot "Johnny" busily encouraged fans to cheer and support the team throughout the entire game.
Meanwhile, the story of Johnny Appleseed gives me yet another reason to return to Fort Wayne---to seek out his gravesite and learn more about the life of John Chapman, the man behind the legend.
The Tin Caps, like many minor league teams, offer great affordable and family-friendly fun with tickets ranging from $5 for a lawn seat to $8, $9 or $12.50 for reserved seats. There didn't seem to be a bad seat in the house, although I'd suggest those going to an evening game to consider trying to purchase tickets along the third baseline as the setting sun can make it difficult to see some of the action if you're sitting a ways out along the first baseline.
Thanks to Visit Fort Wayne for sponsoring my recent visit to Fort Wayne, Indiana, providing lodging, meals and help arranging interviews and tours of area attractions for my review, with no further compensation. I was free to express my own opinions about this stay and experiences, and the opinions expressed here are mine.
© Dominique King 2014 All rights reserved