MISSOULA — The Missoula Paddleheads are one win away from the Pioneer League Championship after beating Boise 8-2 Monday night. The series shifts to Boise now for game two Wednesday.
The Paddleheads, playing under their new nickname for the first time, have a loyal band of followers, and when the gates open at 5 p.m. at Ogren Park, Allegiance Field, there is a line of fans waiting to get in.
It hasn't hurt that the Paddleheads put together the best winning percentage in all of professional baseball, but for most of the fans, it's about the ballpark experience.
"I think they are going to do good. If they have enough fans out here to get them riled up. I'm pretty sure they'll win,” said fan Michaela Gochis.
"My kids really love Paxon and Sammy B. He makes it fun and upbeat and keeps my kids into the game,” added fellow fan Melissa Blodgett.
"They’re a great team overall. Their staff is great, and the players are phenomenal with the game and everything,” noted batgirl A.K. Puryear.
The Pioneer League is now "independent," meaning each franchise signs its own players and staff. Paddleheads Vice President Matt Ellis called it challenging, but fun.
"I'd say we did a pretty good job. I'd say we have a manager and a coaching staff that are three of the best in the business. We put together a roster that have really been a good cultural fit for the community and our franchise." - Missoula Paddleheads VP Matt Ellis
The Paddleheads are already looking to make improvements at the ballpark.
Ellis says the rebranding with the new name has been a big success and they want to make a permanent building at the ballpark instead of a tent that covers the merchandise.
Because of the pandemic, the team kept the food concessions simple this year, but he looks forward to getting back to a more normal situation next year.
Ellis attributes a slight dip in attendance to the pandemic because they rely a great deal on group sales. He believes that will bounce back in 2022.
He told MTN News it will be great for the Pioneer League, especially for the Montana teams to have a franchise based out of Flathead Valley next year.