For the past 30 years, the Crawdads have been a staple in Catawba County. Summer nights have been filled with baseball, fireworks, concerts, and countless hours of family fun.
During their 30-year history, the Crawdads have won three South Atlantic League Championships and set several league records, including the single season homerun record. The ‘Dads have also had 199 players go on to reach the Major Leagues which means on average you will see 6-7 future MLB players on the roster for the Crawdads every season. The group of players that have come through town have been quite diverse. The 915 players overall, representing 17 countries, 44 US states, and Puerto Rico.
A few other athletes have sent the town into a frenzy as they came to Hickory or were even just rumored to come to town. In 1994 as NBA legend Michael Jordan signed with the White Sox, there was heavy speculation that he would be assigned to the Crawdads to start his baseball career. The community was on the edge of their seat with anticipation and the ‘Dads front office made their pitch, dressing up a cardboard cutout of Jordan in a Crawdads uniform. Ultimately, Jordan wasn’t sent to Hickory, but the Crawdads sure capitalized on the speculation with merch sales and media attention. In more recent memory, nothing can quite compare to the Tebow-mania set off in 2017 as the former Heisman winner was in town with the visiting Columbia Fireflies. For all four games of the series, there wasn’t an empty seat in sight and the concourse was filled with fans who just wanted to catch a peak at the ex-NFL quarterback. Five years later, the community still talks about that crazy weekend when Tim Tebow was here.
While the talent on the field is always sure to provide entertainment, the Crawdads are known for also putting on a good show for those who aren’t just there for the baseball game. Every year the team puts out a promotional schedule featuring classic theme nights such as Star Wars Night or Princess Night in addition to some quirkier ones like Thanksgiving in May or ‘Dad Bod Night (coming July 28th this season). Last year the ‘Dads were even recognized with league awards for their Salute to Troops Night and Couch Potatoes alternate identity. The Crawdads also host Daily Promotions such as $1 hot dogs on Tuesdays and fireworks every Friday night as well.
The Crawdads have called LP Frans Stadium home since the beginning and it’s become an iconic part of the Hickory landscape. Work on the Frans began in 1992 as the ‘Dads original ownership group announced they had purchased the Gastonia Rangers and would be relocating the team to Hickory. As Opening Day approached, work on the stadium wasn’t quite complete as the area had experienced an unusual amount of heavy rain. The completion of the Frans in time for the first game was so up in the air, that the team had investigated alternate sites to start the season. Luckily, the crews were able to get a majority of the construction done in time and the ‘Dads were able to open their stadium as planned.
Today, there’s even more bells and whistles at the Frans than when it first opened its gates on April 16th, 1993. Thanks to help from the City of Hickory, the ballpark has received several rounds of renovations to keep things in tip-top shape and adding amenities like a remodeled Crawdads Café and a new HD videoboard. Most recently, the clubhouses were renovated to give the Crawdads an expanded locker room and lounge area.
There has been so much to celebrate during the Crawdads first 30 years in Hickory. We will be kicking off our season-long anniversary celebration at the ballpark on Opening Night on April 12th. We can’t wait to have you out to the ballpark this year and for the next 30 years of Fun at the Frans!
Photo Credit(s): BP Productions, Hickory Crawdads, and Ernie Masche