CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Interleague Play draws 100 millionth fan

Interleague draws 100 millionth fan

CLEVELAND -- Randy Loomis thought the only giveaway he'd receive when he walked through Gate A at Progressive Field on Saturday afternoon was a Shin-Soo Choo bobblehead doll.

Loomis got much more than that.

Upon entering the gate about 20 minutes before the first pitch of the Indians' 3-1 loss to the Cardinals, the 49-year-old Loomis was informed that he had just become the 100 millionth fan to pass through the turnstiles to attend a game in Interleague Play.

The bobblehead was nice and all, but it was nothing compared to the prize package laid upon Loomis. He received four tickets to the 2009 All-Star Game, as well as round-trip airfare to St. Louis, courtesy of Continental Airlines, and hotel accommodations for the game. He also received 100 tickets to an Indians game of his choice, a $100 Indians Team Shop gift certificate and, to top it all off, a jersey denoting him as the "100 Millionth Fan."

"I'm totally surprised," Loomis said. "Shocked."

Now in its 13th season, Interleague Play has been a big hit with baseball fans. Adding a little spice to the regular-season schedule, it has perked extra interest in the national pastime. And MLB monitored the flow of attendance and determined that the 100 millionth fan would be getting his or her ticket scanned at Progressive Field.

From 1997-2008, attendance at Interleague games was 11.8 percent higher than the average attendance for intraleague games. Interleague games drew an average of 33,252 fans per game, compared to a 29,739 average for intraleague games. In the 2008 season, Interleague Play drew a record average attendance of 35,587 fans per game.

"The milestone of our 100 millionth fan demonstrates the great support that the fans of Major League Baseball have for Interleague Play," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "Major League Baseball has set its attendance record in four of the last five years, and Interleague Play has been a key to that success."

And with Loomis and his family and friends on hand for Saturday's game, it appears the Interleague action is headed for some big attendance numbers again. After all, Randy brought 15 people with him, including his wife, Beth, and his son, Josh.

They all piled into a van and made the 60-mile trek from Ashtabula, Ohio.

"We do this twice a year, and this just happened to be the game we picked," Loomis said. "We just have a good time at the ballpark. It's a good time for all of us. And we all love the Indians."

As big as Saturday's group was, Loomis will now get to round up an even greater gathering when him and 99 of his closest buddies come to a game later this season.

"That will be 100 happy people!" he said. "We're going to have to buy more vans!"

Lots of vans for lots of fans. The real trouble will be deciding who to take to the Midsummer Classic. Loomis' family members were already trying to stake their claim to one of the seats.

"I hope he picks me to go," Josh said. "I better start sucking up."

Perhaps no one in the Loomis traveling party had a stronger claim to the prize than Randy's 5-year-old grandson, Caleb. They were, after all, here to celebrate Caleb's birthday, and he was riding his grandfather's shoulders as he passed through the turnstile.

"He must be my good-luck charm!" Loomis said.

Interleague Play has charmed many fans over the years. One hundred million and counting.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{}