Over the past 15 years, a string of lower-tier professional sports teams has come and gone in the Mahoning Valley. Some teams, such as hockey’s Youngstown SteelHounds and arena football’s Mahoning Valley Thunder, enjoyed limited runs in the region.
Others, like the peculiarly named Youngstown Swish for the American Basketball League, never even made it to opening night. All lacked sufficient fan base and organization to keep them on the ice, on the field or on the court.
Over those same 15 years, however, the Valley’s Class A Cleveland Indians farm team has enjoyed an incredibly successful and sustained run on the baseball diamond. As the Mahoning Valley Scrappers open their 15th “Scrapperganza” season tonight against the Jamestown Jammers at Eastwood Field, we’re counting on three months of minor league baseball slam-packed with fun and entertainment for fans, continued growth for the squad and myriad economic and quality-of-life perks for our sports-frenzied region.
Clearly, the Scrappers, one of 14 members of the 74-year-old New York-Penn League, continue to rank as one of the Valley’s most understated but valuable community assets.
SCRAPPERS BUILD REGIONALISM
First, the Cleveland Indians franchise drives home a tangible spirit of regionalism and pride in our five-county area, a refreshing change from the parochial and negative attitudes that too often hinder progress on economic, community development and other playing fields. Scrappers officials report fans from all parts of the Mahoning and Shenango valleys follow the team with zest and pride.
And why not? The Dawgs got talent. The Scrappers have won four division titles and one league championship in its relatively short history of short-season play. The team has fielded many savvy players who have ended up on the roster of the Indians, including C.C. Sabathia, Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko. Over its 14 seasons of play, Mahoning Valley maintains a winning 536-521 record.
Scrappers give back
And while fans support the team, the Scrappers support their home base. The team wields a smashing economic impact on the Valley through its staff and scores of game-night workers. The Scrappers also offer valuable internships each summer for college students training in marketing, operations and other fields. The team supports hundreds of community groups through mascot Scrappy appearances, donations and fundraising programs.
This season, the Scrappers are partnering with several Valley businesses to present the Scrappy’s Healthy Kids program. The program aims to encourage youths to challenge themselves to make healthy choices for a better lifestyle.
What’s more, the ripple effects of more than 3,000 fans on average who attend each Scrappers game can be felt in nearby restaurants, bars, nightclubs and retail establishments.
The Scrappers also provide families and individuals with excitement at affordable prices, close to home and in one of the most attractive ballparks in the minor leagues. The 2013 season is loaded with special events at virtually every game. There’s the Duck Dynasty Night on June 27, the Zombie Survival Night on July 25, buck-night Thursdays and a special 15th season commemoration night highlighted by the inaugural induction of members into the Scrappers Hall of Fame on Aug. 9.
As these and other enjoyable and economical promotions prove, the leaders and staff of the Scrappers’ front office pay close attention to every detail of every game to maximize fun, success and profit for the squad. That’s a lesson other sports franchises would be wise to follow when considering setting up shop in the Valley.
But for now, as the start of summer officially begins this week, we’re counting on sellout crowds at Eastwood Field tonight through Wednesday for games against the Jammers and a stellar season that shatters already impressive attendance records. It all starts tonight at 7:05 behind Eastwood Mall. Don’t miss out.