by Lorie Lewis Ham
This Valley is lucky to have more than one great sports team to support and enjoy. This time of year all sports minded people are thinking baseball. If you love baseball, why not support the Visalia Rawhide. To see what they are up to this year we chatted with Josh Jackson, Rawhide Media Relations Manager.
KRL: How has the new season been going?
Josh: The season has been going well. It has actually been moving along faster than I expected. It’s hard to believe we are at the halfway point. But there are a lot of fun promotions to look forward to, and the team looks like they will be in the thick of a playoff race come late August. It’s really an exciting time!
KRL: How have the crowds been this season?
Josh: The crowds have been stronger than ever! As many people know, we broke franchise attendance records the past four seasons. It was our goal as an organization to make it five seasons in a row, and right now we are on track to do so. For the game on Friday, May 17th, we actually had to turn people away at the ticket office. Our ticket system would not let us print anymore tickets because we were at absolute capacity. That had never happened before. The weather has helped a lot as well. We finally got great weather on Opening Day and it has not been characteristically hot quite yet. That coupled with the team’s solid performance at home and our efforts in the front office, we’re on pace to set yet another franchise attendance record.
KRL: How much does it cost to attend a game?
Josh: Tickets start as low as $6 for pasture/berm seating. We try to make the experience at the ballpark as affordable as possible. We even offer a variety of ways to earn a discounted, or even a free ticket to a game. For example, you can donate school supplies at our ticket office during Monday games in exchange for a free ticket. All of the donations go to benefit Houston Elementary School right down the street. Retired and active military also receive a discounted $5 grandstand ticket during all Saturday games. We also offer undated ticket vouchers, where fans can pick how many games they want to come to and how many tickets they want without having to commit to a specific date. Most importantly, those packages save money off the regular ticket office price. These are just a couple of examples of how we really try to make Rawhide Baseball an affordable experience.
Josh: At our level of baseball, there seems to always be a new face in the clubhouse. One of the pitchers who started with us, Archie Bradley, was ranked the No. 2 prospect in the entire Diamondbacks system by “Baseball America”. They also had him ranked as the No. 25 prospect in all of minor league baseball, which is quite impressive. He had a full scholarship offer from the University of Oklahoma to go play quarterback for their football team, but elected to sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks out of high school. The 20-year old phenom made five starts here before being promoted to Double-A Mobile. He excelled here, to say the least, and continues to dominate at the next level. Don’t be surprised if you see him pitching at the Major League Level before the end of the season.
KRL: Who are the new players this season? Can you give us a little background about them?
We also have three players who were selected to the mid-season California League All-Star team. Our closer Jake Barrett, and infielders Jake Lamb and Gerson Montilla were selected as All-Stars. Barrett is a kid who can throw up to 98 mph, and he has led the league in saves for most of the season. Jake Lamb is in his second season as a pro, and scouts have said he is the best defensive player in the system. Montilla is in his second season in Visalia, and he has been one of the team’s most consistent offensive assets. He currently leads the team in runs scored.
KRL: I understand you have a new manager. Can you give us a little of his background?
Josh: Bill Plummer is our new manager for the team this season. He spent last season as the Catching Coordinator for the Diamondbacks, traveling to the different minor league teams in the system to work with the catchers. He is very experienced, managing over 20 seasons in the minor leagues and even managing the Seattle Mariners in 1991. He was the backup catcher for Johnny Bench on those great Cincinnati Reds teams during the “Big Red Machine” days. You can tell the players and the rest of the coaching staff have a lot of respect for him and it translates to the performance on the field.
KRL: Have there been any standout players or standout moments in the season so far?
Josh: As I mentioned earlier, Archie Bradley was a must-watch player here. When he pitched, he often made hitters look like Little Leaguers. They just couldn’t catch up to what he was doing. One of the pleasant surprises has been 1st baseman Ryan Court. Court was promoted from Low-A South Bend on May 7th after a terrific start there. He hasn’t slowed down one bit here in Visalia. He has a lot of power and drives in a lot of runs. Pitchers are starting to show more respect to him at the plate. It’s definitely fun to watch these players mature and get better as the season goes along.
KRL: Any special promotions or events coming up the rest of the season?
Josh: Absolutely. We have our “Fireworks Extravaganza” on July 3rd. There will be a huge fireworks show after the game, and it will surely sellout. We have some fun promotions scheduled like “Mustache Appreciation Night”, where fans can get in free if they have a real or fake mustache. Or “Water Wars” where kids can sign up during the game to take part in a water balloon/water gun fight on the field after the game. And then there are promotions like “Glove 4 Troops” which concentrates on our community efforts. With that promotion, fans can get a free ticket to the game by donating a baseball glove, which we will ship to troops overseas so that they can have a piece of home with them while they fight for our freedom. The full promotions schedule is available at RawhideBaseball.com.
KRL: Anything new that you already know is coming up next season?
Josh: Nothing for sure. But we are always doing something new to the ballpark. Keep an eye out for a new water splash pad play area for the kids as well as more renovations!
KRL: Besides the game itself, what else can a fan expect to find at a game? (what types of food, shopping, etc.)
Josh: There is a lot of stuff to do at a game besides just watch baseball. We want people to know that you don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy a Rawhide game. A lot of people who come don’t particularly like baseball. They come for the experience. There are on-field games in between innings where fans can get involved. The concession items are highly unique, especially our “Spicy Fajita Dog” which was recognized by minor league baseball as one of the most unique concession items in the country. We give away prizes (including cash prizes) through in-game contests and promotions. It’s just a fun family experience.
KRL: Anything else you would like to add?
Josh: In case you ARE a baseball fan, this is a great place to watch future Major League players at an affordable price. Whether you are a fan of the Giants, Dodgers, Angels, A’s, Padres, or Diamondbacks, all of their future players play right here in Visalia. And the access you have to the players in much more exclusive than at any MLB venue. If you haven’t been out to a game yet, send me an email and your first time will be on me. It’s something you have to experience for yourself!
Check out our the Rawhide KRL event page for their schedule and occasional special event info. You can also get a first hand look at what a fun night at Rawhide Baseball is like from an article I wrote in 2011.