DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Dragons fans filled Fifth Third Field on Thursday for a chance to see some major league talent.
An overcast day did not stop fans from heading to the ball park. Some wished for a warmer day of baseball, though.
“Tonight is really cold so we had to decide,” said Linda Bracken, a season-ticket holder for the Dayton Dragons. “Do we or do we not?”
The decision was made easier when at least one of the players was bringing the heat.
It was hard to find a spot close enough to the field for Dragons fans. Some fans had to stand to watch Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman make his first live pitching appearance since a spring training injury.
Chapman was drilled by a line drive on March 19 in Arizona. The left-hander had to get a plate inserted into his head.
Dragons fans are excited to see “The Cuban Missile” making his way back to the majors.
“We’re just excited to Chapman down in Dayton,” said Zach Smith, a Dayton Dragons fan. “It’s kind of cool that a Cincinnati Reds player gets to come down to us in Dayton. It’s cool to see him in a Dragons uniform.”
Chapman brought the heat with pitches reaching up into the triple digits. The Dragons scoreboard, which only has two digits clocking pitch speed, read “00” and “01” at times.
Fans were not the only ones excited to see Chapman pitch. The visitor’s dugout was up against the fence eager to see Chapman pitch.
“The fastest way for the other team to get out of the minors into the majors is to get a home run on Chapman,” said Steven Bracken, a Dragons season-ticket holder.
With the road back to Cincinnati going through Dayton, Chapman only pitched one inning for the Dragons.
For th fans, it was an inning worth a lifetime of memories.
“Tell your little kids and cousins about it,” said Smith. “You get a lot more fans out. It’s a chance to see a major league player in a Dayton uniform.”
Chapman struck out the first two batters of the visiting Lansing Lugnuts and threw 18 pitches during his one-inning of work.