2020 was a tough year. And while 2021 wasn’t perfect, it was a great opportunity to be thankful for things we took for granted in 2019, and went without in 2020. So as the year comes to a close, let’s take a look back at what we’re most thankful for
2020 was a tough year. And while 2021 wasn’t perfect, it was a great opportunity to be thankful for things we took for granted in 2019, and went without in 2020. So as the year comes to a close, let’s take a look back at what we’re most thankful for from 2021.
Aceball back in downtown Reno
The COVID-19 pandemic meant no minor league baseball anywhere in 2020, including Northern Nevada. Then in May of 2021, professional baseball returned to downtown Reno as the Aces took the field for the first time since September of 2019. There’s not much else to say – baseball came back and everyone was profoundly grateful.
Welcoming back fans
After starting the season with limited occupancy at Greater Nevada Field, the Aces were able to open up the stadium to full capacity and welcome full scores of fans into the ballpark. The crowds created a first-class atmosphere, and reminded us all of what we had missed in 2020: you the fans!
A brand new field
At the start of 2021, the Aces and recently promoted head groundskeeper Leah Withrow installed a new state-of-the-industry playing surface at Greater Nevada Field. The the infield and outfield grass, combined with new infield dirt gave the Reno ballpark a Major League caliber field for the 2021 season. The project marked the first time the playing surface was replaced since the stadium opened in 2009.
Moving on up (staff and player promotions)
In keeping with the goal of Triple-A baseball, the Reno Aces celebrated plenty of promotions in 2021. 31 different players earned a call to the show throughout the season, and 10 of those 31 got the call for the first time. One of the 10 was Henry Ramos, who made his way to Arizona after 11 seasons in the minors. The promotions extended off the field too, as six members of the front office were promoted to vice president or director in early November.
Throwing out a first pitch is fun, throwing out a first pitch to your son in a surprise military homecoming is even more fun. Watch it and try not to get emotional.
2021 was the first year back after 2020, and that meant plenty of new faces on the field. But fortunately for Aces fans, there were some familiar faces as well that led the way. First-year skipper Blake Lalli marked a franchise first as the only former Aces player to manager the squad. The franchise’s all-time hit king Ildemaro Vargas returned for the season, and Juniel Querecuto saw a career year in Reno after spending time with the team in 2018 and 2019.
One of the new faces to Reno was also one of the top prospects in baseball – outfielder Alek Thomas. The Baseball America Top 100 prospect earned a call up from Double-A during the season, and immediately caught fire with the Aces. Thomas brought power, speed and a terrific glove in centerfield. The prospect finished the season strong enough to warrant being named the D-backs minor league player of the year for 2021.
The weirdest and most fun night at the ballpark in 2021 had to be Remo Sriracha night. Ryan O’Flanagan, star of Reno’s Overly Excited Tourist video, came out to Greater Nevada Field to celebrate Remo Sriracha night. The custom sriracha-themed jersey the team wore on the field earned national recognition, in the form of a Golden Bobblehead from Minor League Baseball.