I recently had the chance to interview Andy Dunn, President of the Vancouver Canadians to talk about their Girls of Summer campaign and how Vancouverites can look forward to a summer season at the ‘Nat.
The Girls of Summer is a free, female-only fan club for the baseball team. You can sign up anytime and have access to special promos, workshops and events. This includes Ladies Day on the Diamond scheduled for July 10th. The one-day session will have Canadians staff, players and coaches working alongside the Girls of Summer out on the field presenting Baseball 101 and hosting a live scrimmage at Nat Bailey.
The Canadians are also currently looking for their 2010 Girl of Summer who will receive:
To apply, fill out the online contest form before May 31st. You can also Tweet to enter by answering “Why baseball is a great summer activity” in 140 characters or less. Be sure to include the tag #gos2010 on your Twitter entry.
With this campaign they are hoping to both reach past the avid sports fan, engaging those who made have shied away from the ballpark in the past, as well as reinforce and encourage their fans of all ages to come out and have a good time at the ‘Nat.
“It’s not about who won or lost, it’s the memory that you take away,” said Dunn with regards to the ballpark experience. “I don’t hear people walking around downtown saying ‘Aw, I can’t believe you guys got beat last night’. It’s more like ‘Hey, my kid loves this’ or ‘I used to go with my grandfather all the time and now I’m taking my own kids this week’ — that’s the nostalgia behind minor league baseball.”
Boosting the fan experience for all has been key for the Canadians who over the years have done major improvements to the ballpark including renovated washroom facilities, giveaways, themed/promotional games, fireworks, dancing grounds crew, and playful mascots like Bob Brown Bear or the sushi characters. PETA has also listed Nat Bailey as one of the top “Vegetarian Friendly” ballparks in North America.
The sushi race: Ms. BC Roll, Mr. Kappa Maki and Chef Wasabi
Dunn told me that he believes there is no better fan than a Vancouver Canadians fan. “There’s a huge history of baseball [in Vancouver] — going back to Babe Ruth playing here, Sammy Sosa, Jim Abbott… British Columbia is in my opinion, the home of baseball in Canada.” He referenced some of the hottest players in Major League Baseball that have come out of Canada who are all from BC such as: Larry Walker, Jason Bay, Ryan Dempster, Justin Morneau.
“I really attribute that to the great local youth programs. From Abbotsford all the way to the North Shore and to the Island. Great youth programs, great PBL program, the best college program at UBC, and the weather. Vancouver and BC is the baseball hotbed of Canada.”
Growing up in a hockey town it’s always been tough to get into another sport, however thanks to a few choice Hollywood movies (such as The Sandlot and Field of Dreams) I have a soft spot for America’s pastime. The book upon which Field of Dreams is based (Shoeless Joe by BC author WP Kinsella) was actually a conversation starter when I first met John, him being from Iowa and all. Here’s one of my favourite quotes from the film:
“…They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again…” [imdb]
Just as hockey has its magic, so does baseball. Vancouver’s baseball tradition is strong, proud, and full of history.
I encourage you to get out to Nat Bailey stadium this summer with family, friends, and colleagues. Enjoy the sport, the atmosphere, the scenery, the local beer, the footlong hotdogs and even the sushi. Season tickets start at under $500 and individual game tickets start under $20. The home opener is June 21st vs Spokane.