After operating most of this week under a cloud for a Memorial Day miscue that put the team in national headlines, the Fresno Grizzlies (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) drew 12,962 last night at Chukchansi Park.
It was the largest crowd of the season for the Grizzlies, and the third five-digit crowd at Chukchansi Park in 2019.
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The game didn’t go the Grizzlies’ way–the Salt Lake Bees triumphed by a 13-1 margin–but the big crowd certainly was good news. As you’ll recall, the Grizzlies made national news after the team ran a Memorial Day video calling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez an enemy of freedom.
The video, which you can see here, ran between games of a Memorial Day doubleheader and begins as a standard Memorial Day tribute to the troops and patriotism, but then veers off into a montage of enemies of freedom that includes New York Democrat Ocasio-Cortez, Trump protestors, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and former Cuban president Fidel Castro. The team immediately apologized for the video and followed up with a second apology.
If last night’s crowd is any indication, the apologies worked. The team did lose two high-profile sponsored after the video ran, but other big sponsors said they are not cutting ties with the Grizzlies, saying they are satisfied with the apology and an explanation that the airing video was an innocent mistake and not at all a political statement. Similarly, officials with parent team Washington Nationals say theyre satisfied with the apology and explanation.
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Although the Fresno Grizzlies lost two major sponsors this week over an inflammatory video showing an image of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a season record crowd turned out to their Friday night game.
The official head count released by the team was 12,962 — the largest crowd a Grizzlies game has gotten either at home or away in the 2019 season. Previous high attendance was 11,937 on May 17 and 10,047 on April 6.
The Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals aired the video between games of a Memorial Day doubleheader in an effort to honor fallen soldiers for their sacrifice and courage. They apologized for Ocasio-Cortez inclusion, which resulted in more death threats for the Democratic New York representative, and spent the week watching sponsors pull away.
Fresno Grizzlies lose more sponsors in aftermath of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez video
Hows this for a response from the local community about the Fresno Grizzlies latest issues that generated lots of criticism their way and caused them to lose some sponsors. … A season-high announced crowd of 12,962 came out to Chukchansi Park tonight.
The video, shown at the Memorial Day game, was edited to show a photo of Ocasio-Cortez during a voice-over of the late Ronald Regan speaking about enemies of freedom.
Other images included in the photo montage included Antifa, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Grizzlies officials have said the video was pulled off YouTube for the showing and was not properly reviewed beforehand.
The showing of the video sparked outrage among some fans and prompted a response from the congresswoman on Twitter the next day.
“I just couldnt hear her BS anymore,” said former Community Board 11 chairman and Army veteran Anthony Vitaliano, 78. “I just got up, got my umbrella in my hand, and walked right out.”
Sunmaid Growers and Heineken International (through their Dos Equis and Tecate brands) then dropped their support for the Grizzlies over the video.
But for the thousands of fans who did show up Friday night, it all didnt seem to matter. Or, the lure at Fridays game may have been Star Wars Night as well as fireworks.
The space theme was scheduled to continue Saturday night with NASA Night as the Grizzlies were set to go against the Bees once again.