(Bowling Green, KY) - On a day not unlike today, one year ago, the Bowling Green Hot Rods officially came into existence in a special ceremony at Circus Square Park in downtown Bowling Green. That's when Bowling Green Pro Baseball, the Class A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, announced that 'Hot Rods' was the runaway winner in last fall's Name-the-Team contest. Since then, the Hot Rods completed their first season, unveiled a variety of community-based programs, and took home a notable Minor League Baseball honor.
"What a difference a year makes," said Brad Taylor, Hot Rods General Manager and CEO. "At this time in 2008, we had no name, no mascot, no stadium, temporary offices, and most importantly, no track record with our fans. Now, we've played a season, we loved the enthusiasm and support of the fans, and we're already at work to make 2010 bigger and better for them."
On a cold, wet, snowy day, the announcement came that the 'Hot Rods' moniker beat out thousands of other fan suggestions over a two stage contest to name South Central Kentucky's new team. In the finals, Hot Rods bested runner-up 'Cave Shrimp', the love-it-or-hate-it nickname that the team honored with the 2009 MiLB.com Promotion of the Year, "What Could've Been" Night presented by Southern States on August 15.
"With thousands of suggestions and subsequent votes during the 'Name-the-Team' contest, we learned our fan base was going to be passionate and totally into the Hot Rods," added Taylor. "With that, it's only appropriate that as we celebrate our first birthday, we offer our fans a special birthday package of their own."
Fans that book a 2010 birthday celebration with the Hot Rods before Tuesday, November 3, will receive a one-of-a-kind opportunity at Bowling Green Ballpark. On the night of their party, the group will be allowed to play catch on the field before the Hot Rods game.
"Our business is all about creating memories," said Taylor. "To come on the field and touch and smell that grass, it will be a birthday worth remembering, no matter how old you are."
After spending the first eight games of the inaugural season on the road, the Hot Rods opened their new ballpark on April 17 with an 8-4 win over the Kannapolis Intimidators. A standing-room only crowd of 6,886 fans witnessed the introduction of Hot Rods players in actual hot rods, generously provided by community car collectors.
The first-night buzz and excitement continued through the opening home stand and the rest of the season. A total of 232,987 fans experienced a Hot Rods game in 2009, placing the team in the top third of all Class A teams. In addition to Opening Night, the Hot Rods reached standing-room another 11 times, including three crowds that surpassed 6,000 fans.
At the end of the first home stand, the Hot Rods introduced team mascot and community ambassador, Axle the Bear. Upon his arrival the Hot Rods new mascot made a pledge to root for the team at night while becoming an active member of the community during the day. To this point, Axle has kept up his pledge by visiting hospitals and schools, fundraisers and parades, making more than 100 appearances with players and team personnel in just six months.
With Axle's help, the Hot Rods have donated more than $75,000 worth of goods, services, and donations to Bowling Green and surrounding communities. That number will continue to grow as the Hot Rods plan new initiatives, including Axle's reading program and the 'Fueled by Art' program, designed to encourage students to pursue creative venues in the classroom.
As for Bowling Green Ballpark, the Hot Rods home has already hosted high school baseball games, charity softball games, a wedding, and a concert by Orchestra Kentucky. Once the season ended the facility hosted the LifeSkills Run for Autism and the annual Adopt-a-thon for the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society. The versatile venue is quickly becoming a state-of-the-art function destination in South Central Kentucky.
The Hot Rods are currently booking birthday parties and group outings for the 2010 season. To view the 2010 schedule, visit www.bghotrods.com or call 270-901-2121. The Hot Rods play their home opener on Sunday, April 11, 2010, against the Dayton Dragons (Cincinnati Reds) at 5:05 PM. The entire home schedule with game times is available at www.bghotrods.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.