The Times-Tribune

Celebrate with the champs

RailRiders will commemorat­e 2016 season with series of giveaways.

- BY SHANE HENNIGAN STAFF WRITER

Fresh off the best season in franchise history, the RailRiders are doing everything they can to commemorat­e their accomplish­ments with fans.

The RailRiders announced

the initial highlights of their 2017 promotiona­l schedule Tuesday and they’re making sure to celebrate the Governors’ Cup and Triple-A National Championsh­ip.

It begins with the home opener April 10 when they raise the championsh­ip flag and give away a replica one to fans. That jump starts a series of past popular promotions along with some new ones, which, for some fans, includes the chance to own a replica championsh­ip ring.

“It makes it easy when you’ve got the talent that’s been playing here and when your team wins (98) games in a season,” team president and chief operating officer Josh Olerud said. “Those things make it easier with what direction we want to go in. We’ve just got to be creative with what we’re doing.”

Olerud and the front office created a “Champion Package” for 2017, which ranges from $70-85 and includes tickets to six regular-season games and the Gildan Triple-A National Championsh­ip Game at PNC Field on Sept. 19.

During those seven dates, the RailRiders will celebrate their championsh­ips with giveaways, including a replica trophy and 2008 championsh­ip flag for the first 2,500 fans in attendance and “Champion Package” and season-ticket holders.

The replica championsh­ip rings, however, are only limited to fans who are plan, season ticket or “Champion Package” holders.

Throughout the season, the RailRiders will don alternate blue DigiCam uniforms, which will take the place of the blue vested tops they

wore in 2016. They also will wear hats with a new logo that will coincide with a Baby Bomber theme for every Sunday home game.

Among other new promotions and themes are Wrestling Night, What’s Better Than Bacon? Night, Who’s On First?/Baseball Heritage Night and Wine and Dine Wednesdays/Ladies Night.

Wrestling Night will feature an appearance from a “wrestling icon,” as Olerud put it. Who it will be is still being finalized, but Olerud said it’ll be a night “our fans are not going to want to miss.”

Olerud also said they are trying to hold What’s Better Than Bacon? Night during one of their series against the in-state rival Lehigh Valley IronPigs and that the Baseball Heritage Night will pay homage to the famed Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First?” skit along with local baseball history.

Wine and Dine Wednesdays will feature wine, beer and concession specials, as well as pre-game tastings.

“We’re just trying to keep things kind of fresh,” Olerud said. “Whatever has worked from past seasons is great and we’ll build off it. And if there are things we think we can change and work with, we’ll change. Our fans have been really adaptive to the things that we’ve done.”

The Legends Series also returns. This year, the RailRiders will pay tribute to three former franchise members by enshrining them with life-size bobblehead­s displayed in the PNC Field entrance plaza on dates to be announced. Olerud said the front office’s goal is to pick one member from each of the Red Barons, Yankees and RailRiders eras, with the hopes of making it an annual tradition.

Glow-in-the-Park Fridays are back for every Friday home game. The RailRiders will wear all black uniforms, which Olerud said have been tweaked and will be more flashy. Last season, the RailRiders went 9-0 while wearing those uniforms.

The RailRiders will hold 14 Friday fireworks nights, as well as Opening Night, July 4, Kosher Kaboom! Night (July 18), the National Championsh­ip Game and select Saturdays in July and August.

Also returning are Man vs. Marathon and Star Wars Night (June 23), Princess and Pirate Night (July 21), Military Appreciati­on Night (July 22), Mystery Bobblehead Night (Aug. 4) and Superhero Night (Aug. 18).

Dollar Dog Mondays, TwoDollar Tuesdays and three Bark in the Park Nights (June 13, July 5 and Aug. 3) are also coming back.

The RailRiders will have five bobblehead giveaways and a superhero player figurine on Superhero Night over the course of the 71-game home slate.

“It’s a lot of good stuff,” Olerud said. “This summer, there will be a lot of value and incentive to come out to PNC Field.”

Roster moves

The Yankees traded former RailRiders relief pitcher Nick Goody to Cleveland on Tuesday for cash considerat­ions or a player to be named later.

Goody spent parts of the last two seasons with the RailRiders and was called up to New York nine times. He appeared in 32 games with the RailRiders and posted a 1.64 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 44 innings.

The 25-year-old was designated for assignment Thursday to make room for Aroldis Chapman on the 40-man roster.

Former RailRiders catcher Eddy Rodriguez signed a minor league contract with Minnesota on Thursday. The deal also includes an invite to major league spring training.

Rodriguez, 31, served primarily as a backup to the likes of Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka during the last two seasons but was highly respected among teammates, coaches and fans.

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