What made the team pop off the page of minor league baseball was its stadium, Dunkin’ Donuts Park. And on Friday, BallparkDigest.com named the Yard Goats the 2017 team of the year.
The award is given to the team that made the biggest mark on the industry with improved operations, increased attendance and noticeable buzz. The Yard Goats were chosen from among the 160 candidates across the United States for this award.
This summer, Dunkin’ Donuts Park also won the Ballpark Digest fan vote for the Best Double-A Ballpark in America.
“This award really shows that our fans are the best in the business,” Yard Goats General Manager Mike Abramson said. “To look around the ballpark and see the stands full each night says a lot about this community. We thank Ballpark Digest for this honor, and we can’t wait to play ball in April of 2018.”
The Yard Goats sold out Dunkin’ Donuts Park 41 times last season, including the final 21 game days and 26 of the last 30 game days in Hartford. The season total of 395,196 is the largest attendance of any professional baseball team in the history of Connecticut and the second highest total in the Eastern League.
“There were a lot of people who doubted what could be pulled off here,” Yard Goats owner Josh Solomon said this summer. “What people should really recognize is that if you build the right product in a good location, people will come and people will come in droves, and it doesn’t have to be a baseball stadium.”
Two Yard Goats players appeared in the major leagues this season for the Rockies (Ryan McMahon, Stephen Cardullo) and the top shortstop prospect in baseball, Brendan Rodgers, played the final two months at Hartford.
“The thing that makes me feel the best is that everybody made progress,” manager Jerry Weinstein said. “None of the players slid back. It’s not reflected in wins and losses, because it’s about development. But wins and losses are part of it, and we’d have liked to have won more games. But from a developmental standpoint, I was very happy with the approach.”