If my math is correct and the power grid doesn’t crap out, the 51s will welcome their 10 millionth paying customer on Aug. 29, the penultimate home game of the 2012 season, against Tacoma.
I believe that is Humorous Cummerbund Night at Cashman Field, which should push the 51s over the top of 10 million with room to spare.
(Actually, in an upset that harkens to Appalachian State over Michigan in 2007, there is no promotion that night. Unless there are some bucket hats left over from Bucket Hat Night, which is Aug. 10 against Iowa. Then it might be Leftover Bucket Hat Night.)
Wow, 10 million fans. That seems like a lot. That’s almost as many as the Kardashians have, or Iron Man.
Actually, it’s not all that many, not when you consider the Las Vegas Stars and the derivative 51s have been missing the cutoff man since 1983.
In their inaugural season, the Stars’ average attendance was 4,878.
Last season, the 51s’ average attendance was 4,486.
This season, through 49 dates, and though the team has hit the cutoff man almost every time since getting off to a 6-15 start, the 51s’ average attendance is 4,544 – 15th among the 16 Pacific Coast League franchises.
During their 30-year history, the Stars/51s have never averaged more than 5,386 paying spectators (1992) and never fewer than 4,089 (1986), regardless of how many times they hit or missed the cutoff man or how many bucket hats or refrigerator schedule magnets were given away.
But 10 million still seems like a lot of paying customers.
It’s impossible to predict who will be the 10 millionth paying customer through the turnstiles, and whether he will be wearing a 51s bucket hat. But, if, on Aug. 29, The Famous Chicken or Holly Madison or boxing judge CJ Ross is standing in front of you for tickets, you will know the fix is in.
If the 10 millionth fan can’t be Salma Hayek or former Mayor Oscar Goodman, then it should be somebody wearing a Terrible Herbst T-shirt or a replica jersey with John Kruk’s number and the Anderson Dairy logo on back. It should not be somebody sporting a Houston Astros throwback jersey with the orange and yellow stripes. Or, much worse, a 51s wearable fleece blanket, which should be regifted to your grandmother on her birthday.
The 10 millionth fan should wear a ballcap, of course – Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, 51s (batting practice only) or the Myrtle Beach Merman, the team Kenny Powers pitches for in “Eastbound and Down.”
The 10 millionth fan should arrive in the top of the second inning, because the ticket lines move too slow or because it took him longer than expected to get his car out of the Horseshoe parking garage.
When they put Kiss Cam on the 10 millionth fan, he should not be staring at a young woman from Kentucky wearing cutoffs. He should plant one on his wife, to show that after all these years, she still is worth the price of a general admission ticket.
If the 10 millionth fan should catch a foul ball, he should not hold it up in the air and preen, because the game’s not on TV. Instead, he should give the foul ball to a youngster. That should be a rule, like no pepper around the batting cage.
The 10 millionth fan should not try to spell “Albuquerque” after consuming his 10 millionth $1 beer by the top of the fifth.
The 10 millionth fan should know the difference between a “Fireworks Spectacular” and a “Fireworks Extravaganza.” And, if on the night he becomes the 10 millionth fan a Fireworks Spectacular or Fireworks Extravaganza is scheduled, he should have a bladder as big as Montana, because the lines to use the restroom will stretch to North Dakota.
If there aren’t fireworks after the game, the 10 millionth fan should leave by the bottom of the seventh, even if the 51s have ducks on the pond. Because this is what 51s fans, and Dodgers fans, do.
But most of all, and though it really doesn’t matter who wins or loses in the minors, the 10th millionth fan should root, root, root for the home team.
Because if the 51s ever get a new owner, and the team continues to rank 15th out of 16 in attendance, he or she (lest we forget Anita McCambridge, matriarch of the Charlestown Chiefs in “Slapshot”) might get the terrible idea the 51s would be better off in Florida, or in Salem, Ore., or wherever a city council has just zoned a parcel of land downtown or out on the interstate for a new ballpark.
And then the 10 millionth fan and around 4,544 other paying customers on an average night at Cashman Field will be despondent and crestfallen, like they were in Brooklyn in ’58.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.