Bill Lavell didn’t expect confetti cannons to blast when he arrived at the Charlotte Knights game Wednesday, or to walk away with a basket of prizes and a $1,000 gift card.
“I was expecting to see a good ball game,” he said.
Lavell, 69, of Rock Hill, said he is a lifetime baseball fan and had seen the Knights play at the team’s former home in Fort Mill, S.C. But on his first trip to BB&T BallPark, he became the new stadium’s 1 millionth regular-season spectator.
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The Knights were 607 fans short of the milestone when gates opened at 6 p.m. Lavell walked in with his neighbors, Kurt and Mary Anne Marine, just before 6:15. None of the three knew of the team’s promotion.
Lavell, a retired John Deere machinist, said he grew up playing second base and is a St. Louis Cardinals fan.
He took home free peanuts, a ticket upgrade, a personalized jersey, an autographed baseball, two tickets to the WBT SkyShow and the Triple-A All-Star Game and a $1,000 gift card to Diamonds Direct.
Linda Price was the stadium worker who scanned Lavell’s ticket. Price said she had joked with other staff that she would be the one to welcome the winner.
“I said I had to fix my hair up today, because I’m going to get that millionth person,” she said.
Since moving from Fort Mill to uptown before the 2014 season, the Knights have led Minor League Baseball in average attendance.
“For us to welcome one million regular season Knights fans to BB&T BallPark in such a short time is a true testament to our great fans, Mecklenburg County, the City of Charlotte, and the entire region,” said Dan Rajkowski, the Knights’ chief operating officer, in a statement.
Taylor: 704-358-5353; Twitter: @LangstonITaylor