After the TinCaps lost to the Lansing Lugnuts 7-5 tonight, they came out on the diamond and acknowledged the fans at Parkview Field. They got a nice ovation following the final night game of the season and then turned toward the video board, where a mashup of season highlights rolled. Finally, the players all sat in the grass together and watched the final fireworks show of the season light up the Fort Wayne sky.
"It's nice, coming out here, we don't really get to thank the fans as much as we do for all their support and all the times they come out and show us some love," center-fielder Jawuan Harris said of the postgame celebration on the field. "It was good to get out there and show them some love for once."
It wasn't a playoff celebration or a victory celebration, but rather a celebration of a season well-played, even if the record (62-75 with one game remaining) doesn't exactly scream success. This team had its moments – a nine-run comeback on wild night in July and seven wins in eight games to make the playoff race interesting in early August come to mind immediately – and although it won't end the year with a postseason berth, it has still given the fans plenty for which to cheer in 2019.
The fans have risen to the challenge, especially as the summer wore on, when the crowds were large on an almost nightly basis. There were a few times, particularly during that winning streak in early August, when the stadium was as loud in big moments as I've ever heard it, creating a genuinely electric atmosphere and a significant home-field advantage for the TinCaps.
Now, only one game remains in the 11th season at Parkview Field, an afternoon contest Monday, the rubber match in this three-game series against the Lugnuts, against whom Fort Wayne also opened the season.
On a personal note, this concludes my daily coverage of the TinCaps this season (barring something crazy breaking in the next 24 hours). I will be in Kentucky for the Notre Dame-Louisville football game Monday, meaning my extremely capable colleague Elizabeth Wyman will be at Parkview Field for the series finale.
This was my second season covering baseball in Fort Wayne and it was even better than the first. I continue to love coming to the ballpark every day and talking to players trying to make their way through the strange little world of minor-league baseball. The TinCaps do everything they can to make my job easier and I appreciate that very much. This group of players has also been more than gracious all season in sharing their stories with me, even after difficult games, and bringing those stories to you readers has been an honor.
I'll have more coverage wrapping up this season in the coming days, but in terms of game coverage, this is it until 2020. It was one heck of a run this season and I'm hoping for many more.