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Published: Tuesday, 8/12/2003

Millionth fan honored at Fifth Third Field

BY BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Chad Cunningham is one in a million.

Literally.

The 30-year-old retail worker who recently moved to north Toledo from Napoleon was randomly selected last evening as the one millionth Mud Hens' fan in Toledo's two-year International League history at Fifth Third Field.

The 50th person to walk through one of the home-plate turnstiles to watch Toledo take on Charlotte, Cunningham was pulled aside by a Hens' staffer and informed that he had won a grab bag of prizes and would be throwing out a ceremonial first pitch.

“I am just embarrassed,” said Cunningham, who guessed that he'd been to some seven games so far this season. “I'm one of those people who hangs out in a corner rather than up front.”

Last evening's paid attendance of 6,131 runs the 2003 total at Fifth Third to 432,740. In its inaugural campaign, a Toledo-baseball-record 567,804 watched the Hens.

It took just 136 outings at the downtown park to reach the milestone.

“I heard about it on the radio this morning,” said Cunningham, who declined to reveal where he worked. “I was telling a friend at work that one of us would probably end up the millionth person to walk through that gate.”

Cunningham had a chance to win one million pennies - $10,000 - in the sixth inning. Had a Toledo batter hit a home run on the Hens' 100th pitch of the contest, Cunningham would have been counting his change.

It didn't happen.

With two outs and the bases loaded, first baseman Kevin Jordan fouled off a 1-2 offering from Thomas Jacquez.

The Hens needed 11 seasons (1965-1975) to reach the million mark at its previous home, Ned Skeldon Stadium in Maumee.

Swayne Field, which hosted pro ball in Toledo from 1909-1955, didn't see the magic mark until its 11th season, either.

- DAN SAEVIG



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