When minor league baseball returned to Virginia’s capital city in 2010, it marked a rebirth of pro baseball in the city. From 1966-2008, Richmond was home to the R-Braves. the AAA affiliate of the Richmond Braves. But stadium issues plagued the team’s final years. and the Atlanta Braves finally gave up on seeing a badly needed new facility in Richmond, and pulled the team out and moved them to suburban Atlanta.
After a dark 2009 at the Diamond, baseball returned in 2010, as the Eastern League’s Connecticut Defenders, AA for the Giants, moved south to Richmond and became the Flying Squirrels. Part of the agreement of the team coming to Richmond was that a new facility would be forthcoming.
2015 marked the 6th season at the Diamond for the Squirrels, and no new stadium, and none on the horizon.
While the lack of a new stadium remains a source of frustration for Flying Squirrels management, SF Giants management, and even the Eastern League powers-that-be, as well as throwing some doubt into the future of pro baseball in Richmond, that is not stopping fans from flocking to the ballpark to see future San Francisco Giants. Final attendance figures are in for the 2015 season, and for the 4th time in their 6 years, the Flying Squirrels were tops in the league in attendance. A total of 417,010 fans showed up to the Diamond in ’15 to watch their beloved Squirrels, pulling in approximately 800 fans more than 2nd-place Reading.
Richmond also won the EL title in 2010, 2012, and 2014.
The Richmond Flying Squirrels are in serious jeopardy. They trail Binghamton 2-0 in the best of 5. They fell in both games by scores of 5-2 and 5-1. While Richmond’s pitching has been manageable, their offense has sputtered. In game 1, they had 7 hits, but 5 of them were singles. In Game 2, they had 6 hits, but three of them were singles.
In short, their offense is not coming through right now when it counts, and it will have to now, as the remainder of the series shifts north to Binghamton, N.Y. Ty Blach will go tonight on the mound to try and do his part to get Richmond back in this series.
Baseball fans in Virginia’s capital city were saddened and shocked in the fall of 2008 when their longtime team, the Triple-A Richmond Braves, citing the city’s failure to finally replace the aging Diamond, left town after more than 40 years for suburban Atlanta. But the void in the Capital City was not there for long, as the Connecticut Defenders, from the Double-A Eastern League, relocated south, and after a Name-the-Team Contest, the Richmond Flying Squirrels were born, playing their first game in 2010.
In that time, the Flying Squirrels have had some amazing success. Giants stalwarts Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Joe Panik played in Richmond on their way to San Francisco. In 5 years in Richmond, the Flying Squirrels have played in 2 EL championship series, losing to New Hampshire in 2011 and are playing in the 2014 finals against Binghamton.
Despite the fact that Richmond has made no progress towards a new stadium, promised to the relocating team in 2010, the Giants have signed a 2-year extension with the Squirrels, to run through the 2016 season.