A new feature here at BlueClaws Blog, every Monday and Wednesday, beginning today, we’ll be putting out a new blog series entitled Minor League Memories. We’ve gone around the office and surveyed staffers, and we want you to share your favorite memories here with us. Here is part one.
As we went around the office asking folks about their favorite BlueClaws memory, the runaway winner was September 15, 2006…the BlueClaws winning their first South Atlantic League title.
Lakewood took a two-games-to-one lead over Augusta into game four at FirstEnergy Park, and they had one of their three aces, Matt Maloney, on the hill. The BlueClaws scored two runs in the first inning, and after Maloney still hadn’t allowed a run through three, Director of Marketing Mike Ryan made a promise.
“I’m sitting in a stool up in the production room,” he recalled. “After the second inning, we had the lead. I vowed right there that I was not going to move until we gave up a run. I sat there the entire game.”
Maloney pitched a shutout and the BlueClaws won 5-0 to clinch the SAL title. But it was more than just one night. This built up over the last few months of the year; the BlueClaws went 47-23 in the second-half, and the fans caught on quickly. “The promotion each night was basically this great team and this great pitching staff,” said BlueClaws Director of Promotions Hal Hansen. “It made our jobs much easier.”
For several, including BlueClaws Director of Community Relations Jim DeAngelis, then in his ninth year of baseball, the SAL title was special for other reasons. “Until then I had never been with a winning team. To win a championship was very exciting.”
“I was here when this was a pile of dirt with a sign that said ‘Future Home of Lakewood Professional Baseball,’” said Ryan, who has an original construction helmet behind his desk.
“It made all the 14-hour days we work all summer totally worth it,” added Director of Group Sales Jim McNamara. “I slept underneath my desk that night.”