BEEK'S BLOG: Story in the stands

Bee Staff WriterApril 28, 2013 

— Yes, the Modesto Nuts have struggled to start the season, but the franchise is pulling record numbers at the gate.

A ceremony to honor Stanislaus County student crossing guard programs put nearly 1,000 kids on the field prior to the game, and their camera-toting parents in the stands, boosting Sunday’s attendance to 4,280.

Combined with the crowd of 4,593 on Friday and 4,325 on Saturday, this marks the first time since the 1997 Thurman Field expansion Modesto has sold out three consecutive games. Records of sellouts prior to 1997 are not available, but in a pre-expansion Thurman Field, a sellout would have been about 2,400.

The three-game total of 13,247 also set a record, eclipsing the 12,607 drawn by the Nuts for their three-game weekend set against Stockton on April 23-25, 2010.

Consider that in both 1961 and 1964 the Modesto teams drew fewer than 17,000 fans for the entire season.

The Nuts front office isn’t one to get greedy about such things, but there’s a shot the streak could continue. Modesto goes on the road to play a three-game series at Visalia starting Tuesday, returning home to Friday to open a six-game home stand.

Friday’s game, which will be followed by fireworks, has a strong advance sale, and Saturday is the annual cancer awareness night game, a cause and a promotion (including a very popular jersey auction) that has provided a sellout in each of the last four seasons.

NOLAN ARENADO GETS THE CALL

The Colorado Rockies promoted third baseman Nolan Arenado to the big league roster Sunday morning, giving the 2011 Modesto Nuts star his first taste of the major league life.

To make room on the big league and the 40-man roster, the Rockies designated infielder Chris Nelson (Modesto 2007-08) for assignment.

Typically when a player is DFA’d he is placed on waivers and exposed to be claimed by any other organization. If Nelson is not placed on waivers immediately he can be traded or returned to the 40-man roster (after 10 days,) or released.

Arenado, who turned 22 two weeks ago, is considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and during his stay in Modesto was said to be the best defensive third baseman in the minors. He hit .298 with 20 home runs and led all of the minors with 122 RBI in 2011.

He will be the first ex-Modesto player and the 13th Cal League alum to make major league debuts since opening day. According to league historian Chris Lampe, Arenado’s debut brings the all-time total of ex-Cal Leaguers in the majors to 2,392.

One of those alums made a huge impact in the season’s opening week..

Chris Davis of the Orioles, who toiled for the Bakersfield Blaze in 2007, started hot right from opening day, becoming the fourth player in major league history to hit four home runs in the first four games of the season.

Two of the other three players to have accomplished the feat played in Modesto: Mark McGwire and Nelson Cruz.

The first player to start the season with such a power surge was Willie Mays, who never played for Modesto, but did participate in a workout at Modesto’s Del Webb Field when rain in San Francisco caused postponements during the Giants-Yankees’ 1962 World Series.

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