Patrick Magee

Crowds don't impress in Shuckers' home stand, but team worth admission

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD 
 Biloxi Shuckers fans on the third base side call for t-shirts between innings of the team's opening game of the season at MGM Park in Biloxi on Thursday April 7, 2016.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD Biloxi Shuckers fans on the third base side call for t-shirts between innings of the team's opening game of the season at MGM Park in Biloxi on Thursday April 7, 2016. SUN HERALD

Underwhelming is the best way to describe attendance for the Biloxi Shuckers' season-opening seven-game home stand.

After starting the 2015 campaign with a 54-game road trip, the Shuckers came home to a crowd of 5,065 for their home opener on June 6.

When the Shuckers began the 2016 season on April 7, the team played before an average of 2,014 fans during the home stand - the worst in the 10-team Southern League. The Shuckers averaged home crowds of 2,604 in 2015, but that number is well off considering it factors in home games played in places like Jacksonville, Fla., and Huntsville, Ala.

Disappointing attendance for one home stand doesn't necessarily mean that will be the case going forward, but it's not a great sign.

There were several different events taking place on the Coast that may have contributed to small crowds. Plus, kids are in school and the high school baseball season is heating up. A couple of nights of damp weather also contributed to crowds of 1,280 on Tuesday and 1,219 on Wednesday when the Shuckers were hosting the Mobile BayBears.

The bright spot of the seven-game homestand was a crowd of 3,673 that showed up for baseball and fireworks on April 9.

The Jackson (Tenn.) Generals are second to last in the league with an average attendance of 2,238 through four games. The Birmingham Barons have a huge lead on the rest of the league with an average of 6,138.

The attendance problem should disappear with warmer weather and the end of the school year, but the Shuckers can always go cheaper on food and beverages.

Favre on hand

Fans have good reason to show up at MGM Park on Sunday when Brett and Deanna Favre will be on hand to help raise funds for the Deanna Favre Breast Cancer Fund at Memorial Hospital.

Brett Favre will throw out the first pitch and there will be a raffle for autographed items - a 16x20 framed and signed Jets photo, a 16x20 framed and signed Vikings photo and an autographed Southern Miss football helmet.

The Shuckers are asking that fans wear pink to the ballpark to show their support for the Favre 4 Hope Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

Talented club

Those fans who decided not to attend games during the season-opening home stand missed some good baseball. The Shuckers finished 5-2 and appear a team perfectly capable of making a run at the postseason for the second consecutive season.

The pitching rotation no longer includes rising stars like Jorge Lopez and Tyler Wagner, but Josh Hader and Javier Salas appear to be quality No. 1 and No. 2 starters.

The real promise for Biloxi exists in its lineup. Brett Phillips, Jacob Nottingham, Victor Roache, Garrett Cooper bring pop to the middle of the order while Tyrone Taylor, Nate Orf and Kyle Wren are all men who have shown a knack for getting on base.

Nottingham, a power-hitting catcher, and Phillips, a sweet-swinging center fielder, rank among the more talented prospects in all of minor league baseball.

The Coast offers plenty of distractions, but the Shuckers are again worth the price of admission this season.

Contact Patrick Magee at pmagee@sunherald.com, follow him on Twitter at CoastCoverage and on Facebook at facebook.com/mageeonsports.

  Comments