Several hundred loyalists gathered last night at Fifth Third Field to celebrate the Toledo Mud Hens International League championship.
They cheered when Mayor Jack Ford and the three Lucas County commissioners Tina Skeldon Wozniak, Pete Gerken, and Maggie Thurber congratulated the organization.
And they ran onto the field after the official victory ceremony.
Problem was there were no Hens players, the ones who produced a three-game sweep of the Indianapolis Indians to win the league s Governors Cup.
However, Manager Larry Parrish was there, as were two of the team s coaches.
So were mascots Muddy and Muddonna. But none of the guys who brought a pennant to Toledo for the first time in 38 years.
The players weren t there because they either joined the Detroit Tigers, who utilize the Hens as a minor-league affiliate, or were at their mostly faraway homes with families.
But their absence didn t seem to bother the fans.
It s a long season. I d want to go home too, Keith La Pointe of East Toledo said.
This is great, just to experience this on the field, most teams don t let you on it. The way they treat their fans is great.
Fans found out about the last-minute celebration by checking on the Hens Web site, which on Thursday mentioned a possible victory party.
Notice of the mayor s proclamation declaring yesterday as Mud Hens Day wasn t issued to the news media until 3:15 p.m.
Other fans heard about the event on the 5 p.m. news and went to the downtown ballpark, where the gates openedan hour later.
For a last-minute thing, it s a tremendous turnout, Parrish said. But it s pretty typical of how we ve been supported all year. The championship really means a lot to the community, he said.
The Kozman family drove from West Toledo, but not before Zoey, 2, donned the appropriate attire. Over her duck costume from last Halloween, she put on a Muddonna dress and a Mud Hens baseball cap.
She loves Muddonna, her mom, Christina Kozman, said. She has to wear her Muddonna T-shirt everyday. When we see [Muddonna] on TV, she says, Baseball! Baseball!
Children enjoyed the inflatable games in the outfield Muddy s Swamp Adventure obstacle course race, Muddy s Marsh Maze, a home-run derby, and a pitching station.
They also ran the bases for the last time this season and said good-bye to their favorite mascots.
Hanna Hagerman of South Toledo, who with her son, Logan Brockway, 5, are ballpark regulars, said, We had to come out and thank them. This is what baseball is supposed to be like.
Logan and his family often got to games early, and he was allowed to stretch with the players and run sprints with his favorite Hen, second baseman Kevin Hooper.
I lost [my voice] from screaming here, a raspy Logan said.
Ms. Hagerman is kind of glad the playoffs and the championship series are over. For the last week, we ve eaten nothing but hot dogs, she said.
As for Mr. Ford, he said he would have liked to have a parade for the team, but not with the players gone already. He said something could be done when the team is welcomed back next season.
Contact Meghan Gilbert at:email@example.com or419-724-6050.