Since the first pitch in 2000, faithful fans have been filling seats.
From the beginning, Centerville resident Richard Winters has been in one of those seats, right behind the first base dugout.
“Being up close just makes you feel like you’re part of the game,” Winters said.
“We always thought we would have a good first year–the honeymoon period and then it might tail off. So we wanted to put in our business strategies we worked in 1998 and 1999 so that it would be a long-term success story not just short term,” Eric Deutsch, Executive Vice President of the Dayton Dragons states.
From the start, the Dragons built and applied long-term strategies. With record attendance the first year, they’ve continued to draw a crowd.
“This is as much a social activity as it is a sports activity,” said Winters.
“You don’t watch every at-bat. You don’t watch every pitch. It allows you to have social time,” states Deutsch.
Dragons games quickly became a summertime staple in Dayton, bringing families of fans to the ballpark for more than two decades.
For Richard, baseball fandom runs deep.
“My mom was an avid baseball fan–member of the Rosie Reds and instilled that love of baseball in me as a child,” describes Winters.
The Dragons have been selling out the ballpark for more than 20 years. Prior to COVID, the Dragons finished with 1,385 sellouts and averaged more than 8,000 fans per game.
“It’s just part of the American psyche. I think that’s what happens with baseball. It’s happened here in Dayton. We’ll have ticket holders that signed up 20 years ago,” stated Deutsch.
Darlene Braunschweiger has been a season ticket holder since 2000.
“Oh, it’s just a lot of fun to go!” Braunschweiger exclaimed.
Going to the games, she’s been collecting Dragons souvenirs. She has a collection of bobbleheads, figurines, hats, umbrellas, and other Dragons giveaways.
To Dragons fans, the weather never seems to matter. Rain or shine, the bonds formed by baseball keep them coming back.
“We’ve had the same usher for all those years. Our son is named Carl and the usher for our area is named Carl. So, Carl and Carl struck up a friendship after all those years,” laughed Braunschweiger. “And he just kind of became a member of the family. You got to know the people that sat around you.”
The timeless tradition has brought generations of fans together.
“It’s just this kind of Norman Rockwell thing that gets put into everybody’s calendar. Every summer, hey, you got to take your family, you got to take your kids to the ballgame, and there’s something special about being with the family at the ball game,” states Deutsch.
With Dragons fans, it’s never just about who wins or loses. It’s about the experience at the game and the memories they’re able to make.
“The game is fun, but it is not all about the game,” admited Braunschweiger.
“We could be winning 6-1, or we could be losing 6-1. You don’t really care,” stated Deutsch.
The Dragons are excited to welcome fans in for 2022 and are hoping for another sellout season this year.
For all Dayton Dragons coverage, click here.