Place residence

Seats in place for RubberDucks anniversary season

Pictured above are Akron RubberDucks’ new Canal Park stadium seats. Photo: Craig Marques

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Shortly after the end of its 2021 season, the Akron RubberDucks posted a photo on social media of an empty Canal Park. Above it was the caption, “LATEST NEWS! Canal Park will be a BYOS (Bring Your Own Seat) ballpark in 2022.”
If you’ve been to one of the Ducks’ early season games, you know there’s no need to lug your BarcaLounger to the ballpark. Canal Park, in its 25th year, has new comfortable seats made by the company that built the originals – Hussey Seating.
The winter weather caused some delays in the installation.
“It was January, and we still had no seats and I was starting to get nervous,” RubberDucks general manager Jim Pfander said. “Oh my God, maybe our fans should bring their own seats.”
Two weeks before the Ducks’ home opener on April 12, all 7,630 seats were in place and all “BYOS” fears were allayed.
“We had a lot of very confused people [by the social media post] — a lot of people think they should bring their own seat,” Pfander said. “The wacky RubberDucks lived up to more of their promotional hijinks.”
It wouldn’t be completely out of place for a team that often thinks outside the box. For example, he prides himself on whipping up extreme menu items, like his new “Never Sausage a Thing” – a giant hot dog with coleslaw, scallions and barbecue sauce served in a baked potato.
“It’s by far my favorite,” Pfander said.
In other food-related news, the Ducks will temporarily rebrand the team as a side dish. The team will become the Akron JoJos on July 28-29 as a tribute to the area’s beloved potato wedges.
Pfander said the idea originated during one of the team’s weekly promotional meetings during the offseason.
“It’s an Akron thing, and we wanted to play on that,” Pfander said. “My first job in minor league baseball was in Spokane, Washington. I was looking at a menu and saw they had fried chicken, and I said, ‘Can you add some JoJos?’ They looked at me like I was completely crazy.
Pfander, a graduate of Archbishop Hoban High School, was Ken Babby’s first recruit when he bought the team in 2012. He is now in his 11th year as the team’s general manager, a job with different responsibilities than a big league general manager.
“What we can control in minor league baseball is anything outside the white lines,” Pfander said. “We have nothing to do with who plays first base or who the starting pitcher is – it’s up to the Cleveland Guardians. It’s the food, it’s the promotions, it’s the mascots. It’s coming here and see a famous artist. If you forget what the final score is, that’s okay. You’re here to have fun.
Last year, the Ducks won the Double-A Northeast title, the sixth franchise title since leaving Canton and becoming the Akron Eros in 1997.
“When you have a team that wins championships, that’s just the icing on the cake,” Pfander said.
On May 14, to celebrate the team’s 25th anniversary, players will wear uniforms that are a hybrid of the current uniforms and those formerly worn by the Eros. Throughout the season, the scoreboard will recall some of the players who once called Akron home, such as CC Sabathia, Bartolo Colon, Francisco Lindor and Corey Kluber.
The Ducks continue their home stand in a double header with the Reading Fightin Phils on April 16 at 3:30 p.m.

Please support Leader Publications as we continue to provide the community with local news.

Click on the link below for more information on our 2020 voluntary subscription campaign!

Make a voluntary donation