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Halfway through its inaugural season, the Rocket City Trash Pandas are playing well, attracting large crowds and on schedule for a very successful 2021 season of minor league baseball in North Alabama. Photo- Bob Labbe

Trash Pandas Mid-Season Report: SUCCESS

MADISON- With a thrown ball from pitcher Reid Detmers to Zach Short of the Tennessee Smokies, the Rocket City Trash Pandas on home opening night began its inaugural season on May 11 before an overflow crowd of more than 7,500 at Toyota Field. The Trash Pandas lost the game 4-3 in extra innings, but began what has been a very successful season for the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels.

Now 60 games into the 2021 campaign the Trash Pandas look at a “mid-season report” as success with a capitol S.

“Absolutely as the organization is making up for lost time after our 2020 season was scratched,” said Garrett Fahrmann, executive vice president and general manager of the Trash Pandas. “Umpires and visiting teams have commented how electric our games are with our fans and the just entire experience of each game. We’ve had over 176,000 in attendance so far.”

The Trash Pandas lead all of Double-A and ranks fourth in Minor League Baseball with an average home attendance of 6,088. The mark is only behind Triple-A teams in Nashville, El Paso and Las Vegas. At mid-season the attending crowds have watched the Trash Pandas post a 28-30 record, which puts them in third place among the Double-A South, North Division 4.5 games behind first place Chattanooga (32-25) and 2 games back of second-place Birmingham (31-28). Home record for Rocket City is 16-12 while the team is 12-18 on the road.

As for additional team statistics up to this point, the Trash Pandas have hit 88 home runs far and away more than any other league squad as Birmingham is next with just 69 dingers. The 88 round trippers are also tops in all of Double-A baseball. Trash Pandas pitchers have recorded 606 strikeouts, which is the most in the league.

As promised, attending crowds are treated to more than just a baseball game on the natural grass playing field consisting of 365SS Kentucky Bluegrass over seeded into 419 Bermuda grass and maintained by head groundskeeper Charlie Weaver a graduate and former baseball player of Bob Jones High. It’s not just a baseball game, each night is an event.

“One of the biggest surprises I’ve noticed is here in the South it seems most sports fans are football crazy, but I’ve noticed our fans are into the game and stay at each game win or lose,” said Fahrmann. “One night we were down 13-nothing in ninth inning and we scored a run and our fans acted as if we just won the game. Our fans are always engaged and it’s fun to watch.”

Since opening night, many changes have taken place at a Trash Pandas game. Parking is much better with more entrances and fans are able to get in and out much more efficiently, additional parking areas are now available and special parking for season ticket holders. Concession stands have been revamped for better flow and shorter lines.

“Labor is still an issue as we could use an additional 20 workers at each game to make the event even better,” added Fahrmann. “We’ve encouraged fans to visit the outfield area to food trucks and beer portables, but people are creatures of habit as most want to stay at concession stands under the cover of the stadium.”

Upcoming key promotions for the remainder of the season include July 25 with the Christmas in July Toy Drive and Kids Run the Bases, 90’s Night and Jersey Auction on July 29 and Super Hero Night set for Aug. 19. As for post-season promotions once the 2021 season is complete, the Christmas Lightshow will return and plans are that to be bigger and better than last year. A concert is also being planned, but no date or artist have been finalized. The 9-11 game with the Wounded Warriors Softball Team is scheduled with complete details for the special game coming soon.

“I encourage ticket buyers to visit the Trash Pandas official website to purchase game tickets as some ticket resellers take advantage of our fans selling tickets at a much higher price than our website as we want our fans to get the most bang for their buck,” said Fahrmann. “The clear-bag policy is still in place as we feel all of Major League Baseball will have that policy implemented in a couple years as we’re staying ahead of the curve on that issue.”

The Trash Pandas have received tremendous support from the community and businesses and is a good partnership for all involved. Fahrmann stressed the organization loves feedback from its fans.

As for the action on the field, the team is at a halfway point of the 2021 season and still have a great chance to make the playoffs. The South League will host the top two teams in overall record for a best-of-five series to determine the South League Champion.

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