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The Minor League With Major Attendance

SCOTT SIMON, host: Tonight in Dayton, Ohio, a minor league baseball team is poised to set a remarkable record - 815 consecutive sold out games. From member-station WYSO, Jerry Kenney reports.

JERRY KENNEY: Seven-thousand, two-hundred and thirty - that's the number of tickets the Single A Division Dayton Dragons need to sell for a game to be considered sold-out. To date they've done that exactly 814 times.�

Here at Fifth-Third Field in the heart of downtown Dayton, fans are preparing to cheer their hometown team as they get closer to that 815th game.

MIKE BELCHER: I have a hat that has one pin from each year on it, I had a lot more pins than that on it before, but it was getting way too heavy.

KENNEY: Mike Belcher is known as a Dragon's super fan.

BELCHER: I got the Dragon socks on that I made and the green shoes that I found on clearance that my girlfriend hates.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KENNEY: Belcher says he wasn't much of a baseball fan until he started to come and see the Dragons play.

Eric Deutsch has been the Dragons' vice president since the city was awarded the franchise. He says a lot of those here didn't start out as baseball fans.�

ERIC DEUTSCH: What we've seen is that a lot of children and women, or even men who are not so much sports or even baseball fans will come back because of the social outing, the entertainment experience. It's fun.�

KENNEY: Cincinnati sports agent Jonathan Maurer says that fun has been marketed here as the Dragons experience.

JONATHAN MAURER: The average person that gets a ticket to a Dragons game they go away clapping, happy, it's affordable. People want to come back, and all of a sudden now you're creating this marketing dream. That's why we're sold out for all these years.

KENNEY: Selling any product these days is a challenge - especially in a Midwest town recovering from a recession, but Eric Deutsch says baseball has inserted itself into the Dayton psyche.

DEUTSCH: We're trying to, you know, put ourselves in their shoes and say, hey, how would I want to be treated as a fan when you've got white collar jobs being lost, blue collar jobs being lost, population decreases, etcetera. So I think we've been reaching out and making sure that we're being sensitive to how these things interact with our ticket buying fans.

KENNEY: If the team sells out tonight and the record is set, the official celebration of the streak will be in two weeks. Expected at that event will be two of the team's celebrity co-owners Magic Johnson and two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin.

For NPR news, I'm Jerry Kenney.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.