BELOIT, Wisc. - This season we celebrated 35 years of professional baseball in Beloit and it proved to be another one for the books. Even though the team finished 59-80, there were still plenty of positives in 2016.
A lot has changed between the first season and the 35th season of Minor League Baseball in Beloit. The team changed their name from the Beloit Brewers to the Beloit Snappers in 1995. The club is now affiliated with the Oakland Athletics. The players no longer have to shower and get changed over at the ice arena next door, among others.
Even though a lot has changed over the past 35 years, the main concept of Beloit Professional Baseball has stayed the same. Although we try to increase our overall product each season, the Snappers are still providing you with high quality baseball along with affordable, family fun. Both of which proved to be true in 2016.
Attendance increased from last year as we saw an average of 12.6 % more fans come through the gates per game. The increased interest in our weekly promotions such as Monster Deal Mondays, Two Dollar Tuesdays, Tap Takeovers, "Insured" Win Thursdays, Thirsty Thursdays, Flat Screen Fridays, and Fireworks nights certainly helped us attract fans.
The baseball seen at Pohlman Field proved to still be impressive and exciting despite the losing record of the Snappers. Fans in Beloit saw a total of nine walk-off wins and 31 homers in 2016. A total of five Snappers were voted to the Midwest League All-Star game but due to injuries only Boomer Biegalski participated in the game hosted in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The 2016 Snappers roster had one player listed on the Oakland Athletics' Top 30 prospects list according to MLB.com in Skye Bolt. Bolt ended up spending a decent amount of time on the disabled list but his name certainly stuck out as the fans voted him as the Best Name in Minor League Baseball according to MLB Network Radio.
The team continued to make a point to get out in the community. Snappy could often be seen doing appearances at local businesses and schools, promoting his reading program. The players, once again, also volunteered to deliver meals for Beloit Meals on Wheels this season. Players could also be seen signing autographs after select games and at local businesses throughout the community.
Chris Iriart seemed like a shoe-in for the All-Star game and the Home Run Derby as he had a league leading nine homers in the season going into June when he got hit in the face with a pitch that required surgery and sidelined him for six weeks. Once he came back from the injury he continued his power streak by hitting seven more homers the next month of the Midwest League season before being promoted to the Stockton Ports (Advanced-A) in mid-August. It sure would have been fun seeing how many homers he would have hit during the course of a full season.
A total of 11 Snappers were promoted to a higher level within the Oakland Athletics Minor League system during the course of the 2016 season which is promising to their young career. Six former Snappers were called up to the Major Leagues this season which puts Beloit at a total of 199 former players to make the Bigs in just 35 years. Those six players were Michael Ynoa, Bruce Maxwell, Raul Alcantara, James Beresford, Matt Olson, and Renato Nunez.
James Beresford finally got the call up after playing over 1,000 games in the Minor Leagues. Beresford played for Beloit in 2010 when we were an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. He now becomes the 33rd Australian baseball player to play in the Bigs.
We also saw arguably the most well-known ex-Snapper, Prince Fielder, hang up the cleats as he announced his retirement from baseball due to being plagued with neck injuries. Snappers fans remember him being a real force in the Midwest League when he played for Beloit on his way to the big stage.
Shortly after the season ended, Oakland agreed to extend the player development contract with Beloit for another two years. This in turn means that the Oakland Athletics will be providing the Beloit Snappers with talent through the end of the 2018 season. This will certainly result in even more Snappers making it to the Major Leagues within the next coming years.
Although there were a lot more losses than wins, there were still a lot of positives that came from the 2016 season. The 35th year of Minor League Baseball in Beloit was a success and we can't wait to provide you with great baseball and affordable family fun in 2017. Again, thank you to our loyal and dedicated fans for continuing to support us. Without you we couldn't provide the Stateline community with Minor League Baseball and affordable family fun.
The Beloit Snappers are a fourth-year affiliate of the Oakland Athletics and the 2017 season will be their fifth. Stay tuned to www.snappersbaseball.com and the Snappers' Facebook and Twitter accounts for all up to date news throughout the offseason.