A banner year at the ballpark: Why does it have to be over?

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It was a welcome return to Everett AquaSox baseball here in 2022, and Frog fans weary from a global pandemic were rejuvenated with a full season of the new and improved Northwest League (NWL). It is almost forgotten that just a couple short years ago the AquaSox were short season low A, having now been promoted to full season high A. That we the fans got to see more games, a higher caliber level of play, superstars-in-waiting, and crazy fun promotions.  We the fans are back! It was a long 2 years, but foul balls, fun, food, and friendships are alive at Funko Field!

I would be reticent if not to mention that the AquaSox opened, without restrictions, in April for the first time in club history. Not too long ago, the short season NWL ran for only 3 months of the year, now we no longer had to wait until June for baseball in our backyards. We got to see, on April 8th, the AquaSox reliever Leon Hunter win the first of 7 games this season against the mighty Eugene Emeralds. Spencer Packard would crank a grand slam.

AquaSox fans got to see the enigmatic shortstop Noelvi Marte this year who was traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Cincinnati Reds in a push to make the playoffs. While the M’s got a superstar pitcher in Luis Castillo, the Reds got a future superstar that we got to see in person with 15 homers and 55 RBI in an Everett jersey. We won’t be surprised later if we see him in the majors lighting up the league.

For Mariner fans, there was plenty to see as rehab assignments saw star players like Luis Torrens, Abraham Toro, Erik Swanson, Kyle Lewis, Mitch Haniger, Ken Giles and Diego Castillo all make appearances in Everett colors. Outfielders Kyle Lewis and Mitch Haniger would thrill fans in particular as Mitch would drill a homer and Kyle would drill 3 home runs reminiscent of 2016 when he tore the NWL up before his promotion.

And speaking of promotions, this year had some of the greatest we have ever seen. June 3rd was sweatshirt night, sponsored by Funko. Lines out the door and through the south parking lot contributed to the night crackling with anticipation for a sweatshirt that quite simply looked amazing. The heather-gray hoodie adorned with a Funko version Webbly is a keepsake to behold and to hold onto.  Not to be outdone, on July 23rd, we saw another amazing Funko give away with a ¾ softball rec. league shirt with a stylized Webbly swinging for the fences.

It’s not all about Funko of course, we got to see our traditional Star Wars night on June 18th as fans were treated to a post-game theatric presentation of a Jedi battle. The AquaSox were decked out in Mandalorian inspired Baby Yoda (Grogu) jerseys and the question was finally answered that night if Webbly is a secret Sith lord.  I won’t give away the secret, you will have to come next year to find out.

The traditional promotions such as the discounted beer Thursdays and a fantastic fourth of July BBQ were a hit with fans. We of course got fireworks that night and the traditional Saturday night fare where for a free show, you really get your money’s worth.  And a quick little shout out to the pyrotechnic crew who work diligently and safely to bring us these presentations. Many of us were there that doubleheader Saturday, in the downpour rain, as they valiantly tried through technical difficulties as the “show must go on.”

AquaSox fans also got to hear the velvet smooth dulcet tones of legendary play-by-play announcer Pat Dillon as he broadcast his 2,000th. Since opening day of 1998, Pat Dillion has been the “Voice of the Frogs.” Growing up a Vin Scully fan, Pat took a tour with the Navy and pursued an economics degree from the University of Washington before becoming the longest tenured NWL broadcaster in history.

It was a banner year for Washington State University alumni as there were plenty of WSU themed nights including an alumni night and a ceremonial first pitch from new Seattle Seahawks starting right tackle and former Archbishop Murphy star player Abraham Lucas.

This was another season and another reason for Frog fans to reflect and anticipate the fun for next year. We here at Seattle Sports Union, got to experience it with you and we appreciate the fanbase every bit as much as we do the AquaSox, the organization, and the performers on the field. The bar is set for full season baseball, we can only count down the days until get a 2023 season of more foul balls, food, fun, and friendships.

Thank you to the fans and the AquaSox organization for another amazing year at the ballpark! We hope to see you all again next year!

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