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Dragons end 20th season in Dayton; 2019 Season in review has several memorable hightlights

Dayton, Ohio—The Dayton Dragons completed their 20th season of Midwest League baseball last week.  The 2019 season included many highlights (click on links for the full story):

Dragons Celebrate Their 20th Season
The Dragons celebrated their 20th season in 2019 and joined fans in savoring the memories.  On March 30, former Dragons players Austin Kearns, Chris Dickerson, and Todd Coffey returned to Fifth Third Field, along with former Dragons coaches Ken Griffey Sr. and Tom Browning, for the Dragons “20th Season Celebration Game.” A team of Dragons alumni still playing in the Cincinnati Reds minor league system returned to Dayton for the game and were welcomed by fans.  While the game was rained out, fans still enjoyed seeing and hearing from many former Dragons they had cheered for in previous years.

Prior to the season, a panel of Dayton media members selected the 20 Greatest Dragons, and during the first half of the season, fans selected an all-time position-by-position Dragons all-star team through an on-line voting process.

All throughout the year, the video board at Fifth Third Field displayed memorable highlights and “Remember When” moments on a nightly basis, including such historic memories as Billy Hamilton’s 100th stolen base, Jose Siri’s record-breaking hitting streak, Hunter Greene’s 102 mph fastball, and a collection of videos featuring former Dragons like Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto, Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce, and many others.

Fans enjoyed a new game-opening video for each Dragons game capturing the spirit of the Dragons 20-year history. The playing field and outfield fence also featured new 20th Season logos.
https://www.milb.com/dayton/team/20

The Streak
The Dragons consecutive game sell-out streak continued through the 2019 season.  After the final regular season home game on September 2, the streak now stands at 1,385 consecutive sold-out games, an all-time record for sports in North America (see more on the sell-out streak below).

Another First Round Draft Pick Joins the Dragons
Nick Lodolo, the Reds 2019 first round draft pick, joined the Dragons for a pair of starts on July 25 and 30, less than two months after being selected out of TCU.  Lodolo drew a big media contingent for the two starts at Fifth Third Field as he became the 18th first rounder to play for the Dragons.  He also became the 10th consecutive first round pick to play in Dayton.  Lodolo pitched well in his two starts, posting a 2.57 ERA with no walks and nine strikeouts in seven innings.
https://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/mlb/reds/2019/07/26/cincinnati-reds-1st-round-pick-nick-lodolo-debut-dayton-dragons-kyle-farmer-tcu-draft-chris-sale-mlb/1832306001/

Murphy Earns National Honor
Prior to the start of the 2019 season, Dragons President & General Manager Robert Murphy was selected as the 2018 Minor League Baseball Executive of the Year by Baseball America, the industry trade publication.  The award is presented annually to one individual from among all executives in 16 leagues and 190 teams across Minor League Baseball.  Murphy became the 17th person to earn the honor since Baseball America began the award in 2002.  Previous winners have included five league presidents and 10 team executives.
https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/milb-executive-of-the-year-robert-murphy/

In April, Murphy was named for induction into the Dayton Business Journal Forty-Under-40 Hall-of-Fame.  This is the highest honor in the program.

Dragons Receive Better Business Bureau Torch Award
The Dragons were honored in April with the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award.  The BBB’s torch has been the symbol of guidance and enlightenment as consumers and businesses strive to interact in a trustworthy and ethical marketplace. The local Torch Award is dedicated to the legacy of great Miami Valley business pioneers, such as John Patterson, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Charles Kettering, Colonel Edward Deeds and most recently, Clay Mathile. It was through their ingenuity, leadership, generosity and mentorship to others that the Miami Valley has stood the test of time and recreated itself again and again.
https://www.bbb.org/dayton/eclipse-integrity-awards/recipients/

Tornado Relief Efforts
In response to the widespread damage caused by the weather emergency on the night of May 27, the Dragons accepted non-perishable food items and cash donations at Fifth Third Field for all six home games immediately following this event (May 28 through June 2).  All non-perishable food items collected at Fifth Third Field were donated to The Foodbank, Inc.  Additionally, the Dragons conducted a “Pass the Bucket” at each game for fans wishing to donate money.  All proceeds were donated to the American Red Cross, Dayton Chapter.  Dragons fans rallied in support and donated over 144,069 pounds of non-perishable food items that resulted in 120,057 meals for those in need. In addition, Dragons fans donated $28,449 in cash donations for the America Red Cross.
https://www.daytondailynews.com/sports/dayton-dragons-announce-tornado-relief-donations/1H96zmDuN81ZDoGQEflFzL/

Dayton Strong
Due to the tragic events in the Dayton Oregon District the morning of Sunday, August 4, the Dragons game was postponed. The following day the Dragons played a doubleheader and hosted a special “Dayton Strong” night at the ballpark to honor the nine victims, their families, and everyone else affected by this tragedy.

During both games on August 5 and during the game on August 6, the Dragons conducted a “Pass the Bucket” to allow fans to make cash donations to the Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund. Additionally,100 percent of the proceeds from the Dragons 50/50 raffle was donated to the fund. In total, Dragons fans raised nearly $12,500 in two days.

The Dragons honored the victims in a pre-game ceremony prior to the second game of the doubleheader on August 5. Nine Dragons players each took a single white rose and laid it at home plate during the ceremony to honor the nine victims as each of their names were read. Joining the players on the field was Dayton Mayor, Nan Whaley, as well as representatives from the Dayton Police and Fire departments.  Dragons fans were provided Dayton Strong placards they held up during this on-field moment to show their support.

Dragons player wore Dayton Strong patches on their jerseys for both games on August 5. They also had a Dayton Strong sticker on their batting helmets. Dragons staffers wore a Dayton Strong bracelet and there was a Dayton Strong field stencil used as well.  In addition, the Dayton Community Blood Bank was on the plaza at Fifth Third Field on August 6th make appointments for those wishing to donate blood.
https://twitter.com/DragonsBaseball/status/1159118992080027648

https://twitter.com/DragonsBaseball/status/1158845254411444226

Naturalization Ceremony during Dragons Game
On August 21, the Dragons hosted a naturalization ceremony for 20 new citizens who took their oath of allegiance on the field during an inning break of the Dragons game. In addition, the crowd joined in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with the newly naturalized citizens.
https://www.milb.com/dayton/news/dragons-homestand-preview-for-august-21-23/c-310147400

Torch Run for Special Olympics
The Special Olympics of Ohio Law Enforcement Torch Run made its way to Fifth Third Field on June 23. A local law enforcement officer, along with a local Special Olympics athlete, ran through Dayton and Fifth Third Field as the torch headed to Columbus.
https://www.milb.com/dayton/news/dragons-homestand-preview-for-june-20-23/c-308273174

Jersey Auction
Two times during the 2019 season, the Dragons players and coaches wore specially designed jerseys to be autographed and auctioned off following the game. These jersey auctions supported the Dayton Dragons Foundation.

June 21 was a special game where a local veteran was honored as part of the Veteran Salute Program. As part of this night, Dragons players wore a special camo jersey.  Players autographed their jersey, and for the following week, proceeds were raised through an online auction to support local veteran charities.
https://twitter.com/DragonsBaseball/status/1143973129401917442

August 10 was “American Celebration Night” where Dragons players wore special red, white and blue patriotic jerseys.  These jerseys were auctioned off online during the following week to raise funds for local military organizations who assist our service members.  In total, these jersey auctions were able to raise nearly $12,000.
https://www.milb.com/dayton/community/jerseyauction

Five Fireworks Shows
The Dragons conducted five fireworks shows during the 2019 season, presented by Associated Builders and Contractors. Fireworks followed games on Saturday, April 27, Saturday, May 11, Saturday, June 1, Friday, June 21, and Saturday, August 31.
https://www.milb.com/dayton/news/dragons-announce-six-fireworks-shows-for-2019-season/c-305129014

CareSource’s Veteran Salute Program
CareSource’s Veteran Salute program highlighted five veteran’s stories during the season. Veterans who were chosen were honored at a Dragons game with an in-game ceremony and provided with VIP treatment during their special night. Dates were April 28, May 23, June 21, July 3, and August 10.
https://www.milb.com/dayton/community/veteransalute

Other 2019 Highlights at Fifth Third Field:

Hometown Heroes Celebration Nights: Five times during the 2019 baseball season, the Dragons partnered with the Dayton Development Coalition, SRC, Reynolds & Reynolds and TACG to pay tribute to all service men and women in the area. Festivities included the national anthem being performed by members of the United States Air Force, the presentation of the colors by the Wright Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard, recognizing Folds of Honor that provides scholarships to military families, honoring Purple Heart recipients and Gold Star families, supporting organizations that enrich the lives of veterans, a make-up anniversary “date night” for military couples, and swearing in ceremonies for a group of local military recruits. The Hometown Heroes program was capped off by the American Celebration Night on August 10. Dates were April 12, May 22, June 23, July 11, and August 10.

Home Run for Life: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Dragons teamed up to provide five children battling serious medical conditions with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities during Dragons games. Each honoree got to take an honorary home run “lap” around the bases of Fifth Third Field during a game, cheered on by family, friends and the Dragons team. Dates were May 8, May 29, June 12, July 3, and August 31.

Community All-Stars: For the seventh straight year, the Dragons partnered with Vectren and for the first time Flying Ace Express Carwash to present the Dragons Community All-Stars Program honoring individuals and organizations who have gone above and beyond to improve the quality of life in the Miami Valley. Five of them appeared on the field during a game with a tribute video telling their story. Dates were April 16, May 21, June 10, July 25, and August 22.

Dragons Ticketing Fundraiser for Non-Profit Groups:  For the third straight year, the Dragons worked with local non-profit organizations and charities to assist these organization in raising much needed funds through the Dragons ticketing fundraising program.  In 2019, over $165,000 was raised for local organizations through the program which allowed supporters, members, donors, sponsors, and employees of the charitable organizations to attend a Dragons game with a portion of their ticket sales proceeds being returned to their specific non-profit organization.

Dragons MVP Program:  The Dragons elementary school MVP Program included over 1,100 fourth and fifth grade classrooms in approximately 200 schools in 50 school districts. About 31,000 children participated. The program completed its 14th year in 2019. The Dragons MVP Program is made possible by the generous support of Ohio’s 529 Plan, the Dayton Dragons Foundation, Sinclair, Panera Bread, WDTN TV, and Dayton’s CW. The program is completely free of charge to the schools. The teacher in each of the classrooms selects five MVP’s based on the teacher’s judgment of performance, effort, citizenship, and improvement. The five MVPs receive four tickets to a Dragons game, tickets to a special Field Day event at the stadium during the season, an MVP certificate, and a Dragons MVP hat. Dragons players and mascots visit selected classrooms over the course of the season.

Top Teacher Award presented by Wright State University CEHS:  The “Top Teacher” award, presented by Wright State University College of Education and Human Services, returned for the second year as part of the Dragons MVP Program for 2019. Three teachers who participated in the MVP Program were selected, and they were honored during a special inning break of a Dragons game for their accomplishments in their classroom and community. “Top Teacher” honorees were recognized in the Play Ball game program, Dayton Daily News, radio commercials, and social media posts.

High School Baseball sponsored by Mount St. Joseph University: For the 14th consecutive season, the Dragons played host to high school baseball at Fifth Third Field. In April and May, 39 area high school teams participated in 20 games and raised over $30,000 for their athletic programs.

Dragons 5K: For the eighth time, the Dragons hosted a 5K run around downtown Dayton on July 20, presented by Orthopedic Associates.

Other Events
* Kettering Health Network Strike Out Stroke Night: May 9
* Home Build on the Plaza in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and Synchrony: May 10
* Wright State University Raider Day at Fifth Third Field: May 12
* Boy Scout/ Girl Scout Overnighters: May 31 and July 12
* MVP Field Day: June 1
* Kettering Health Network Public Safety Day: July 14
* Fourth Annual Yoga in the Outfield: July 18
* IGS Energy’s Dragons Little Big Leagues Baseball Camps: June 10-11; July 25-26
* Dayton Firefighters Night: July 30
* 18th Annual Bob Ross Classic Game: August 2
* American Celebration Night: August 10
* Kettering Health Network Breast Cancer Awareness Game: August 11
* Great American Beer Tasting presented by Heidelberg Distributing: August 17
* Dayton Police Officers Night:  August 22
* Donatos Family Movie Night: August 24
* College Prep Night: September 25

Eight “Walks” at Fifth Third Field
Girls of the Run 5k:  May 11
Epilepsy Walk:  May 18
Miami Valley Women’s Health Walk:  May 18
Chron’s & Colitis Walk:  September 7
American Heart Association Walk:  September 21
Miami Valley Down Syndrome Buddy Walk:  September 28
Alzheimer’s Walk for the Cure:  October 5
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk:  October 19

National Entertainment Acts at Fifth Third Field

The Dragons home schedule in 2019 featured eight national entertainment acts on 11 different dates. They included:

April 25: Team Zoom Canine Entertainment
April 26: Russian Bar Trio
May 11: Jesse White Tumblers
May 23: Team Zoom Canine Entertainment
May 30: Team Zoom Canine Entertainment
June 2: Mutts Gone Nuts
June 8: Jesse White Tumblers
June 20: Team Zoom Canine Entertainment
July 6: Amazing Tyler
August 11: Xpogo
August 22: BirdZerk!
August 23: ZOOperstars

Ballpark Improvements

The Dragons Zone
In 2019, Fifth Third Field featured a new “Dragons Zone” behind the centerfield fence. This large, kid-friendly area included an assortment of face painting, special activities, and carnival games including Skee Roll, Bull Ringer, and Lily Pad Launcher, Pop-a-Shot, Duck Pond, and more. All games were $1.00 with the opportunity to win a variety of prizes – big and small. Throughout the season, fans could find fun and unique activities during weekend games.
New “Dog House” Concession Stand
The Dragons and Pro Sports Catering added a new concession stand next to the Samuel Adams Pub on the first base side called the “Dog House.” It featured four new giant hot dogs including a Mac-N-Cheese Dog, a BBQ Dog with pulled pork from the in-house smoker, a spicy Dragon Dog, and a Gyro Dog. Other hot dog items were featured by home stand.

The Samuel Adams PubThe Samuel Adams Pub featured four Samuel Adams brews in addition to multiple other beers and ciders. Halfway through the season, the Dragons gave fans the opportunity to select which beer they wanted to see in the Pub through a multi-week social media contest. After multiple rounds and close calls, fans chose Alaskan Amber Ale to be featured in the Samuel Adams Pub.

Improvements to Fifth Third Café
The Dragons teamed up with AZEK Building Products to bring a new look to the popular Fifth Third Café for the 2019 season. An AZEK Paver system was installed as a new flooring surface in the cafe. AZEK Pavers are made of up to 95% post-consumer recycled materials, with the added strength of a composite and a natural appearance that resists scratches and stains. They are lightweight, colorful, and durable.

Hall-of-Fame Display on Suite Level
A new display courtesy of the Cincinnati Reds Hall-of-Fame was added on suite level at Fifth Third Field, featuring memorabilia from former Dragons who have played for the Reds. The actual home plate from the 2015 MLB All-Star Game “Home Run Derby” autographed by the winner of the event, former Dragon Todd Frazier, is part of the display. It also includes various autographed jerseys and caps from key games in recent Reds history involving former Dragons such as Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto, Jay Bruce, Billy Hamilton, Sal Romano, Amir Garrett, Homer Bailey, Edwin Encarnacion, Devin Mesoraco, Drew Stubbs, and Chris Heisey.

Additional New Concourse Banners
The Dragons doubled the number of historic banners on the main concourse at Fifth Third Field. Forty-four (44) banners depicting the Dragons experience.

New Double-Sized Luxury Suite
The Dragons combined suites 1 and 2 at Fifth Third Field into a reconstructed suite that is twice the size as the previous suites. The new suite accommodates larger numbers of fans for games and events.

Upgrades to Dragons Training Room
The training room at Fifth Third Field featured new flooring, cabinetry, and a renovated look with logo and artwork.

Renovated Customer Service Booth
The customer service booth feature new cabinets, countertop, and additional storage for fan items.

Season Review

The Dragons season began on April 4 and concluded on September 2. Here are some of the facts and statistics:
The Dragons completed the 2019 regular season with an attendance total for the year of 545,108. Dayton averaged 7,900 per date over 69 home openings in 2019. The Dragons have led all of Single-A baseball in attendance in each of their 20 seasons.  Also for the 20th consecutive year, the Dragons finished among the top-10 in all of Minor League Baseball in full-season attendance (all classifications).
Longest Sell-Outs Streaks in Professional Sports History
No.      Team                                                   League                                                            Years
1,385   Dayton Dragons                                  Minor League Baseball                                   2000-current
820      Boston Red Sox                                 Major League Baseball                                   2003-’13
814      Portland Trail Blazers                         National Basketball Association                     1977-’95
785      Dallas Mavericks                                National Basketball Association                     2001-’19
662      Boston Celtics                                     National Basketball Association                     1980-’95

Dayton Dragons 2019 Recap
Final Record: 58-82 (7th in Eastern Division)
First Half: 28-42 (7th in Eastern Division)
Second Half: 30-40 (6th in Eastern Division)

Final Attendance: 545,108
Per Game Attendance Average: 7,900

2019 Dragons Midwest League All-Star Game Participants:
Pabel Manzanero (catcher)

Midwest League Batter/Pitcher of the Week
Andy Fisher (Pitcher):                                     July 15-21
Connor Curlis (Pitcher):                                  August 4-10

Dragons Cincinnati Reds Minor League Batter/Pitcher of the Month
Ricky Salinas (Pitcher):                                  June
Andy Fisher (Pitcher):                                     July

Dragons on Baseball America’s Midwest League “Best Tools” Survey
Minor League Baseball’s trade publication, Baseball America, conducted a survey of Midwest League managers of the “best tools” in the circuit:

Best Relief Pitcher:                                         Connor Bennett

2019 Dragons Team Leaders
Batting
Batting Average:                                             Jay Schuyler, .260 (qualifier: minimum 378 plate app.)
Brian Rey, Pabel Manzanero, .281 (non-qualifiers)
Home Runs:                                                    Pabel Manzanero, 10
Runs Batted In:                                               Juan Martinez, Jay Schuyler, 50
Stolen Bases:                                                  Michael Siani, 45
Games Played:                                               Juan Martinez, 129

Pitching
Victories:                                                         Alexis Diaz, 7
Earned Run Average                                      Lyon Richardson, 4.15 (qualifier; min. 112 IP)
Saves:                                                             Connor Bennett, 12
Games Pitched:                                              Eddy Demurias, 40
Innings Pitched:                                              Lyon Richardson, 112.2
Strikeouts:                                                       Lyon Richardson, 106

Dragons among the Midwest League Leaders
Batters
Stolen Bases:                                                  Michael Siani, 1st (45)
Sacrifice Hits:                                                  Miguel Hernandez, Tied-1st (9)
Michael Siani, Tied-3rd (8)
Games:                                                           Juan Martinez, 3rd (129)
Miguel Hernandez, Tied-4th (127)
Runs:                                                               Michael Siani, Tied-4th (75)
Hits:                                                                 Michael Siani, 8th (118)
Doubles:                                                          Pabel Manzanero, Tied-9th (25)
Triples:                                                            Michael Siani, Tied-10th (6)

Pitchers
Fewest Baserunners/9 IP (relievers):             Matt Pidich, 1st (9.00)
Games Started:                                               Lyon Richardson, Tied-1st (26)
Jhon De Jesus, Tied-6th (23)
Lowest Batting Avg. Against (relievers):        Matt Pidich, 3rd (.179)
Highest K/9 IP (starters):                                Lyon Richardson, 3rd (8.47)
Saves:                                                             Connor Bennett, 4th (12)
Games Pitched:                                              Eddy Demurias, Tied-5th (40)

Notable Dragons Performances

Manzanero Trio

 

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Tom Nichols; COURTESY DAYTON DRAGONS MEDIA RELATIONS