Baseball: Slammers ‘1,000 bodies a night’ from profit
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media August 16, 2012 8:28PM
Joliet Slammers president and broadcaster Bill Waliewski. | File photo
Updated: September 18, 2012 6:19AM
Forty-two dates into their 48-home game season, the sophomore slumping Joliet Slammers have been a disappointment both on the field and at the gate.
The defending Frontier League champs took a 35-45 mark into Thursday’s contest at Traverse City, and an average home attendance of 2,189 into their final six games at Silver Cross Field.
Neither marks are good enough for Slammers president Bill Waliewski, who sat down for a Q-and-A before getting started on what he hopes will be a bounce-back 2013 campaign.
On the 2012 season as a whole:
“I wish the team had played a little better, but I’m really impressed by how these guys are playing now. They could have mailed it in and they didn’t. I think it’s a credit to the coaching staff. I wish our record was better, but it is what it is.”
On negatives and positives of the season:
“In terms of negatives, we had some injuries, but you’re going to have those. Everybody has them. So you have to deal with them and play through it. In terms of positives, I would cite the fact that these guys have continued to play hard.”
On attendance with six home games to play:
“I’m disappointed. It just hasn’t been what we anticipated coming off a championship year. For the effort we put in in the offseason, the effort has exceeded the reward at the end of the day. It’s frustrating, it’s disappointing. The numbers haven’t been terrible, but they haven’t been great, either.”
On what attendance figure is needed:
“We’re probably 1,000 bodies a night away from making this a viable business that’s making money. That’s the challenge in the offseason. How do you get that extra 1,000 people?”
On there being a 2013 season:
“Sure, absolutely. We’re not going anywhere. Somebody asked me that the other day. I said, ‘Wait, wait, wait. We’re not going anywhere.’ We’ve done everything we were asked to do — pay your bills, fix the ballpark — all that stuff. We’ve done it, and now it’s a matter of keep fighting the good fight.
“We’re committed to this, we’re committed to this town. How do we get more people out to the ballpark without giving away tickets? That’s the easiest thing to do. That’s not going to happen. It’s a culture we’ve had to fight because it’s been done in the past. You can’t make a business work when you’re giving away your product.”
On his energetic demeanor behind home plate:
“We were in a losing streak and I was all fired up and somebody said ‘What are you going to do the last game of the season if we’re out of it?’ I said ‘I want to win every game we have.’ I want to win every game because somebody in those seats is going to be happier if we win. If they see our pitcher get the last out, they’re going to go home with a smile on their face.”
And so will the team president.
The Slammers start a three-game home series Friday night against the Lake Erie Crushers. The final homestand is Aug. 24 to 26 against the River City Rascals. ... Brad Netzel extended his hitting streak to 10 games Wednesday with two hits against Traverse City.
The Slammers shortstop has hit safely in 23 of 25 games to raise his average to .275.