The Mahoning Valley Scrap- pers have come of age. Tonight, in Granville, W. Va., this region’s beloved boys of summer will take the field against the Black Bears as a fully matured Minor League Baseball team embarking on its 21st exciting season.
Over the past two decades, the Scrappers, the Valley’s Cleveland Indians farm team, has grown up to become the pre-eminent summer sports and entertainment institution in the Youngstown-Warren region. The team has forged strong and enduring bonds with Major League Baseball, the Valley community and a passionate and devoted fan base.
The Scrappers indeed have more than proved their endurance. After all, a string of lower-tier professional sports teams has come and gone in our community over the past 20 seasons. Most of them lacked sufficient fan support and organization to keep them on the ice, on the field or on the court.
Over those same years, however, the Niles-based New York-Penn League franchise has enjoyed an incredibly successful and sustained run at the beautiful Eastwood Field, owned by the Cafaro Co., which has approved a lease agreement with the Scrappers through 2033.
As excitement builds for the team’s home opener Sunday under new manager Dennis Malave, we’re counting on three months of 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-loving region.
AN ASSET FOR INDIANS
From a strictly business perspective, the team has proved itself an asset for Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians in its primary mission of player development. The Scrappers have fielded many savvy players who have ended up on the roster of the Indians, including C.C. Sabathia, Victor Martinez, Ryan Garko and Francisco Lindor.
From a community-building perspective, the Scrappers drive 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.
And why not? The Dawgs put talented “baseball with bite” on display for all to see. And the team opens its 21st season with strong momentum as the reigning champion of its Pinckney Division for both the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
And while fans support the team, the Scrappers support their home base. The team wields a significant 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.
For example, this season’s schedule includes Every Monday Matters nights. Fans can bring a donation to Monday games of new books, nonperishable food items or gently worn clothing and receive a free ticket. The donations will go to Valley charities.
In addition, the economic impact of about 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. This 21st season is loaded with special events at virtually every game.
That’s why we’re confident that diehard baseball aficionados as well as those just looking for a fun night out with the family will make it a point to support the team by attending home games. Home-game attendance took a slight hit last year, with a total of 97,204 spectators, a drop-off of nearly 10,000 from the 107,894 official attendance of the 2017 season, some of which can be attributable to Mother Nature’s whims. Nonetheless, the team deserves to see its attendance reverse that trajectory this summer. There’s no good reason why it should not.
After all, the leaders and staff of the Scrappers’ pay close attention to every detail of every game to maximize fun, success and profit for the squad and crowd-pleasing summer pleasures for fans. With so much going for the Dawgs, this 21st milestone season promises to be one summer to remember at Eastwood Field.