With a ceremonial first pitch that rolled by home plate, 4-year-old Will Kellogg helped celebrate a Charlotte Knights milestone Saturday.
Will’s mother Carolyn, of Charlotte, was the record-breaking 429,133 fan to attend a Knights game at BB&T Ballpark this year.
The mark eclipsed the Knights’ previous season attendance record set back in 1993, when future major league all-stars Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome led the Knights during the team’s first year in the International League.
“At the end (of the pitch), it was bouncing,” said Will, wearing a Batman shirt and flanked by his sisters. “But it wasn’t bouncing that high.”
The Knights spent two decades in Fort Mill, S.C., before moving to their new 10,200-seat uptown stadium this year.
And the fans followed.
The team sold out 22 of 45 games so far this season, including Saturday’s matchup against Virginia’s Norfolk Tides. The Knights lead Minor League Baseball in overall attendance and average attendance, welcoming roughly 9,600 through the gates each game.
Last year, the Knights averaged about 3,800 fans at their 67 home openings – or about 255,000 total. The attendance was worst in the 14-team International League.
Scott Brown, Knights general manager, said there’s no comparing the two ballparks. The location’s better. The views are better. The stadium entertainment’s better.
“It’s not even close,” Brown said. “It’s a dream come true.”
Staff writer Joe Marusak contributed.