by REED NELSON, edited by SIOBHAN CAVAN
The beer lines were ten deep at their shortest, the line for ice cream on the third base line wrapped around behind home plate, and not even the distant picnic tables were vacant. PK Park was jumping on Tuesday for the Ems game as they sold out their second straight night. Although this time they received a bit of help.
“Tonight was the Verizon Wireless Ballpark Buyout night,” said Onalee Carson, Director of Media Relations and Community Outreach at PK Park. “That means that they purchase the entire stadium; premium box seats, box seats, bleachers, standing room only, and then they gave away free vouchers at their store locations and we handed them out as well. For some of these folks it’s their first Ems game, so it is pretty cool.”
And with the Ballpark Buyout, the Ems likely eclipsed the 9,000-fan mark over the last two nights. According to Carson there were over 4,500 in attendance for the 4th of July, and they expected the same when the tally came in for Tuesday’s game.
And the fans do make a difference. On Monday, the Ems won their Northwest League record-tying 13th game in a row, and on Tuesday, they set the record with their 14th straight victory. “It has been great to watch,” said Tyler Cox, a student at the Law School. “It’s great that it was free too, it made it a nice night to watch some Minor League Baseball.”
That crowd has been well taken care of all season between the drink specials and the insanely high level of play delivered thus far by the Ems. On Monday, following a 7-3 win, there was a firework display with a reported 3,000 shells. On Tuesday, the stadium was percolating with the energy of a sold out crowd with access to two-dollar microbrews by the bottom of the fourth when right fielder Lee Orr lit his own fireworks in the form of a grand slam to bust the game open. This promptly triggered the Daniel Powter bummer-jam “Bad Day” and a pitching change for the battered Vancouver Canadians, which just as promptly triggered a wave within the crowd of about 4,500.
“This is the best July 5th baseball I’ve ever been to,” said Kenneth Wherry, also a Law Student. “And it is the first time I have seen a wave at minor league game.”
Of course, this was not a cheap event that Verizon decided to host. At six dollars a ticket minimum and 4,500 seats in the park, they were looking at a steep price tag. It was all worth it, however, according to Nary Tok, a Marketing Consultant with Verizon. “It allows us to give our customers and fans of the Emeralds an opportunity to come out for a free game,” said Toke. “And for us, we look at it more as a customer appreciation event.”
And appreciate it they did. The fans were as raucous as they were all season after watching the Ems lurch out to a 9-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning on another home run, this time by Jose Dore. The game finished at 9-3, and the Ems set the record for wins with a couple of bangs and some well-deserved applause. After all, it is not often that there is a firework display two nights in a row.