After 22 seasons of entertaining fans of all ages at City Stadium, Southpaw officially retired as the Lynchburg Hillcats mascot Monday, turning the reigns over to… Southpaw (2.0).
While easing into retirement and enjoying a relaxing afternoon around the office, Southpaw started watching cat videos on YouTube. It inspired him to consider adopting a cat, so he visited the Lynchburg Humane Society's website to see what was available. Lo and behold, Southpaw came across an "exotic shorthair" with the same name. He rushed down to the facility, and the second he spotted Southpaw 2.0 (pronounced two-point-oh), he knew it was meant to be. After filling out the easy-to-complete paperwork, the pair left the Lynchburg Humane Society to return to City Stadium.
"We're excited about our new mascot for a number of reasons," said Hillcats President Chris Jones. "First, let me point out that even though the original Southpaw is retiring, he is not completely disappearing. He will always be a part of the proud tradition of this franchise, and fans will see him at City Stadium various times throughout the season to entertain the crowd as he always has. However, Southpaw 2.0 will become the team's primary mascot. His bright colors, youthful energy, and big smile should help endear him to the fans quickly, especially the kids."
Southpaw 2.0 will start meeting some of the local youth in late January when he travels to numerous schools throughout the area as part of the Hillcats "Hit The Books" reading program.
Furthermore, wanting to make sure as many baseball fans as possible have the chance to meet him in 2017, Southpaw 2.0 convinced the front office to reduce the cost of individual-game tickets for all seats at City Stadium and simplify the system to two prices. General admission tickets for bleacher seating will now be $6 in 2017. All chairback seats, including those behind home plate and the dugouts, will be just $9 for the upcoming season.
"I'll tell you, Southpaw 2.0 may be young, but he's wise beyond his years," said Jones. "He came in with some great ideas to make our product even more accessible to Hillcats fans in 2017. We want as many people as possible to come out to City Stadium this summer, watch future Major Leaguers develop, and enjoy a fun, family-friendly experience to create some lasting memories. Baseball is a game, it's fun, and we want everyone in Lynchburg to have the opportunity to share in that fun. Southpaw 2.0 also presented some exceptional ways to make our concessions more affordable for fans and families with promotions such as '2fur Tuesdays' that we will be announcing soon."
Fans will have the opportunity to learn more about Southpaw 2.0 and see how he becomes acclimated to his new home in future editions of the #MeowMondays video series. The Hillcats will release a new video featuring the mascot every Monday throughout January and continue producing original content in February and March to lead up to Opening Day. "Meow Mondays" will remain a daily promotional theme once the season begins to highlight the team's recently announced partnership with the Lynchburg Humane Society. More details will be revealed as the season draws closer, but the Hillcats have already announced that fans can donate pet food on these days for discounted admission.
Season tickets and book ticket packages are on sale now. Individual game tickets will go on sale soon. The Hillcats begin the 2017 season at home in a rematch of the 2016 Mills Cup Championship Series. Lynchburg will host the Myrtle Beach Pelicans Thursday, April 6, at 6:30 p.m. The Hillcats have made the playoffs a franchise-record five straight seasons.