If you plan it right, Valley will come
GM Andy Milovich continues to find ways to bring fans to Cafaro Field.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- One of the major objectives of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers this season is to bring more people to Cafaro Field to enjoy the Class A minor league baseball team.
Although popular in the area with impressive attendance figures in their first two seasons, the Scrappers of the New York-Penn League hope to reach out to even more people in their third season in Niles.
"Our main goal is to promote the team in the community and bring more people to the ballpark that haven't been there before," said general manager Andy Milovich, who was the guest speaker at the Curbstone Coaches weekly luncheon Monday at the Lockwood House.
Packaged deal: Milovich said one of the new attractions is a 10-game ticket package spanning the entire season that will insure that fans will be able to see the team at different stages of the campaign.
Milovich said the Scrappers want to continue capitalizing on their advantages -- that the games are affordable and accessible for the public, and that the team wants to be flexible to meet the needs and wants of the fans.
"One of the major advantages [of minor league baseball] over major league baseball are flexibility and affordability," said Milovich.
He said tickets are priced between $5 and $8; there is adequate parking within close proximity of the stadium; tickets are easy to order; and there are a variety of programs each game along with the baseball.
"Hopefully we will have a little bit of something for everyone," said Milovich.
Thirty-eight home games are scheduled, including the opener on June 23. Individual game tickets will go on sale Saturday.
Difference in dugout: The Scrappers have a new manager -- Dave Turgeon -- who succeeds Ted Kubiak, the team's skipper the first two seasons, and that this change may make a difference with younger players.
"He [Turgeon] is young [about 37] and I think he will relate to the younger players," said Milovich, who also thinks the new manager will allow the players to be more accessible to the fans, which wasn't always the case with Kubiak.
"We sell the intimacy of it -- that the players are accessible," said Milovich, noting that Kubiak sometimes wouldn't let players fraternize with the fans.
But the GM said he still doesn't know who the players will be this season, because the Scrappers, owned by Al Levin, are a farm team of the Cleveland Indians, who have the responsibility to assign the players.
But regarding the past, Milovich reported that some former Scrappers players, including C.C. Sabathia, have gone on to do well with new teams. Sabathia, only 20, is now with the parent Cleveland Indians and has a 3-1 record.
"He lends credibility to what we are doing," said Milovich of Sabathia.
Milovich said that when the Scrappers players do report to the team, 90 percent of them will stay with host families, with at least two players per home.
He said the host-family program gives the players "more supervision" and "guidance," and emphasized, "It's worked out really well."
In fact, "We had more host families than players," he said.
Regarding players' salaries, Milovich said, "They get paid only when they play -- on average they get $1,000 a month. It's not a tremendous [amount]."
Perspective: Of course, it's a lot more than Floyd Baker received when he played in the minor leagues.
Baker, who is from the area and went on to play in the major leagues, attended Monday's luncheon and was asked how much he made in the minors.
He said he made $75 a month playing Class D ball in 1937 and, "You paid your own [expenses] at home -- on the road they paid it."