Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
Thousands of kids screamed “SpongeBob Square Pants” as music from the popular cartoon blared over the public address system Tuesday afternoon at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
For the second consecutive week, the RedHawks played a field-trip matinee that started at 11 a.m.
Field-trip days have been a huge success.
Pockets of red, blue, yellow, orange and green T-shirts represented 100 different school groups that attended Tuesday's game against the Salt Lake Bees, the Los Angeles Angels' Triple-A affiliate.
“We do two games during the school year and one in June for camps and day cares,” said president/general manager Michael Byrnes, who runs the team for Mandalay Baseball, which owns the RedHawks. “Last year, one game was a sellout. This year both were sellouts.”
An overflow crowd of 10,280 attended Tuesday's game. Last week's morning/afternoon game drew a sellout crowd of 10,186 in the reconfigured 8,700-seat stadium where thousands of seats are covered with large, plastic advertising signs.
Groups from local schools like Deer Creek, Piedmont, Tuttle, Mustang and Oklahoma City were in attendance. The packed house also included groups from communities an hour or two away from OKC.
Located 82 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, Duncan brought a group of 300 kids dressed in red T-shirts that sat in the left-field bleachers. The group that made the longest trek was Wright City, located in southeast Oklahoma, 235 miles from The Brick.
Melanie Vasquez, 8, is a second grader in Duncan. Tuesday's game was the first time she's attended a professional sporting event.
“This is so much fun. And you get to skip school,” said Vasquez, devouring melted chocolate Dippin' Dots ice cream in a plastic hat. “This stadium is so huge. I'm having a lot of fun. It's very exciting.”
The sales team works months in advance to make field-trip games a success. Schools put down a small deposit in September and then request an exact number of tickets at some point later in the fall.
Tickets throughout the ballpark for kids on field trip day are $11, which includes a ticket, hot dog, apple sauce and a RedHawks hat.
“You always enjoy playing in front of big crowds,” said catcher Jason Jaramillo, a 30-year-old veteran who played at Oklahoma State. “You wish it was like this every game. It's a lot of fun. It was a hot one, but it's a lot of fun when you win.”
The two field-trip crowds have brought good luck to the RedHawks.
Last week, the RedHawks trailed Tacoma 6-0 in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and no one on base. Six consecutive batters reached safely, capped by Jonathan Villar's grand slam. OKC won it 7-6 on an error in the 10th inning.
In Tuesday's game, the RedHawks won it in the ninth with two outs. Austin Wates' bases-loaded single drove in Brett Wallace to lift OKC to a 3-2 win to end a nine-game losing streak against the Bees dating back to last season.
“It was nice to see about 11,000 kids out there,” said RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco. “Right now, we're kind of banged up, playing short-handed. But the guys keep playing hard. We went 5-3 on the homestand. We'll take that. Hopefully we'll get some reinforcements.”
Since field-trip days have been such a huge success, would Byrnes consider adding a couple more matinees to the schedule?
“The way we've arrived at having two is the number of schools in the metro market in a 100-mile radius,” Byrnes said. “Two during the school year is the right number. Our sales team has done a tremendous job with them.”