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Dragons set consecutive sellout record07/09/2011 11:16 PM ET
By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com
It took the Dayton Dragons a little over 11 years -- and 4 1/2 more innings -- to make sports history.
The Dragons set a professional sports record by playing in front of the 815th consecutive sellout crowd at Fifth Third Field, then beat the South Bend Silver Hawks, 4-1, behind Daniel Renken.
Once the game became official in the middle of the fifth inning, play was halted for a 10-minute on-field ceremony. The Dragons celebrated with balloons and streamers and unveiled a plaque emblazoned with the No. 815 on the outfield fence.
Later, another crowd of 8,688 was thanked for helping the Reds' Class A affiliate break the record established by NBA's Portland Trail Blazers from 1977-95. Among those appearing during the video presentation were Reds manager Dusty Baker, Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan and NBA legend Magic Johnson, who owns a share of the team.
"It's a great feeling as a player and a team," said Renken, who struck out eight and allowed one run on five hits over 6 2/3 innings. "When we went out there to tip our caps, it gave you a chill. It's a record that had been set for 18 years and it's chilling for us and cool."
When the Trail Blazers played before their 814th straight sellout on Nov. 16, 1995, they lost to the Sacramento Kings. The Dragons had other ideas how to mark their record-setting feat, Renken said.
"It was a good feeling, especially when I was out there," the 2010 25th-round Draft pick said. "I wanted to say thank you and give them a win."
As members of a team that sells out every home game, players become familiar with the fans. Saturday night was no exception.
"You can tell every regular was there, no one was giving away their tickets," Renken said. "If you go down the third base line, you can see all the fans who are always there. And it was a great feeling to come down the line and say hi to every one of them."
Fifth Third Field's actual capacity is 7,290 fans and features 29 luxury suites.
"I think they really just see a great value for what it is when they come here," team president Bob Murphy told WTDN-TV. "The stadium's clean, the people are friendly, the entertainment is fun and it's great baseball - young players chasing their dreams, always hustling, working hard. It's just the complete package. I think they've just really fallen in love with it all.
"It's a great testament to the fans of Dayton. They just love this team, they've supported it since day one. Tonight's a night that they can kind of kick back and enjoy what they've accomplished."
Renken (4-8), who lowered his ERA to 3.75, made just one mistake. He served up Yazy Arbelo's Midwest League-leading 21st homer in the second inning.
"It was a good night," Renken said. "I wasn't locating my fastball as well as I like it, but I was still getting batters out."
Donald Lutz homered for the second straight game and scored twice, while Billy Hamilton went 2-for-4 and stole his Minor League-leading 62nd base.
The Dragons are planning a larger celebration on July 23, when Johnson and two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin -- another part-owner -- will appear in person.