Mahoning Valley opens its
schedule at Jamestown
By Steve Ruman
As the radio play-by-play voice of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, Tim Pozsgai has a unique perspective when it comes to analyzing a visit to Eastwood Field.
Pozsgai, now in his third season with the Scrappers, has traveled to all 14 stadiums in the New York-Penn League. As far as he is concerned, a night of professional baseball in Niles offers more entertainment than any other NY-PL city.
“Sure, there is the skyline in Brooklyn, there is the uniqueness in Aberdeen, but when you’re talking about the total package, nothing beats the Scrappers and Eastwood Field,” Pozsgai said. “The stadium is still one of the best in Class A baseball, the fans back their team more than any other fans in the league, the atmosphere is tremendous.
“When you combine the baseball with all of the promotions, I don’t think anyone in our league can top what we have to offer.”
On Friday, the Scrappers open their 2014 season with a four-game series in Jamestown. On Tuesday, the Scrappers play the first of 38 scheduled home games when they begin a three-game series against Auburn.
This will mark the 16th season the Cleveland Indians’ affiliate has made its home at Eastwood Field.
“Opening Day never gets old,” Pozsgai said. “The experience is definitely unique to baseball, and it is especially exciting with our organization because of the way the fans embrace the Scrappers.”
Fans visiting Eastwood Field this summer can expect many of the same promotions which have become fan favorites over the years. Season-long Thursday Buck Nights and Friday Fireworks highlight a promotional calendar which this year will also include Scrappers-themed t-shirt giveaways on Tuesdays.
Opening night will offer both a t-shirt giveaway and a post-game fireworks show.
Bobblehead giveaway nights will feature Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Tyler Naquin and Mike Sarbaugh. Mancini is scheduled to appear at Eastwood Field on Aug. 9 to recognize his bobblehead giveaway.
“We actually have more giveaway nights this year than we’ve had in a long time,” said Scrappers general manager Jordan Taylor. “Our promotions department does a wonderful job, and our corporate sponsors step up big time to make it all possible. We get tremendous support from area businesses.”
Other scheduled promotions include Bring Back LeBron [James] Night, a youth scout sleepover and Forrest Gump Night. On July 20, fans can bring their four-legged friends to Eastwood Field as part of Bark at the Park Night.
Among the new menu items at the concession stands this year are wings, gourmet hot dogs and a line of Mexican treats.
“Some of our promotions have been fan favorites over the years, and we try to keep those traditions alive,” Taylor said. “At the same time, we’re always looking for new, fresh ideas.
“For many fans, all of the promotions and the between-inning activities are as much a part of a night at Eastwood Field as the baseball game itself. We strive to entertain everyone from the moment they walk in the gate until the time they leave.”
In fact, Scrappers fans have proven that they will support the franchise in good times and in bad. The Scrappers are coming off back-to-back 30-win seasons. Last year’s 30-44 finish was the second-worst in franchise history. Still, attendance increased for a second straight year — the first time in Scrappers history that attendance increased in back-to-back seasons.
“This Valley has really embraced the Scrappers since 1999,” Taylor said. “The bond between the fans and the team is quite unique.”
The Scrappers will once again be guided by manager Ted Kubiak. The 72-year-old former big leaguer managed the Scrappers in 1999 and 2000. He returned in 2003, then began his third stint with the franchise in 2012.