From a fan’s perspective, major league sports organizations can be impersonal. For these teams, the relationship with their fans is strictly a business affair and one that can be operated from a healthy distance. There are boundaries that are not crossed and sometimes you feel like their interest in you is only for your financial support. You don’t get that warm and fuzzy feeling and sometimes you feel like you are only a number to them…your customer number, to be precise.
Now, I am not criticizing them because I understand it is a business and big business at that. And with an organization at that level, you really can’t allow that closeness with the fans for obvious reasons. My only point in bringing this up is to say that my experience in going to an Inland Empire 66ers game is the complete opposite.
I have been out to Arrowhead Credit Union Park three times to visit the Inland Empire 66ers and I can honestly say that as a fan, you do feel a sense of community with this team. Every employee that I have met is really nice and you do get that warm and fuzzy feeling with this organization. Perhaps it is in the nature of minor league sports that they have to get closer to their fan base. Or perhaps it’s just the people. I don’t know. But every time I come out to visit the Inland Empire 66ers, I have a great time.
And the fact that the 66ers have a hot looking dance team is a plus. The Inland Empire 66ers Dance Team is definitely worth the price of admission.
The last time I was out here, the 66ers Dance Team was performing in 50’s style hoops skirts for a special promotional night and that made a lasting impression on our readers. On Friday and Saturday, I got to spend some time with them in more conventional attire and all I can say is WOW!
Now, when you first arrive to the stadium, the Inland Empire 66ers Dance Team is there to welcome each and every fan. They had hand out game day magazines or on special days they give out promotional items.
On Saturday, it was James Loney bobblehead night and when I arrived to the stadium there was already a long line of people waiting for their chance to get one of the coveted items.
After greeting the fans, the girls had a few minutes to relax before heading on down to the field for their pregame performance. Dancer Central was Byron Marquez’s suite where food and refreshments awaited. There was time to fix up their make up and rehearse the routine a few times before heading on down to field for stretching and warm ups.
On Friday and Saturday, I took the opportunity to take some posed photographs of the dance team. I wanted to take a few shots that were a bit different from what I usually do and the girls were most accommodating.
Now over the course of the weekend, one thing became clear. There are a couple of girls who are quite spirited in a devilish sort of way. Their playful personalities make for quite an interesting photograph. Let’s see if you can pick them out.
Soon it was time for the pregame performance. For the sake of clarity, the photos of the girls in skirts were taken on Friday and the photos of the girls in shorts were taken on Saturday. I want to make that clear since I am including photos from both days for your viewing pleasure. And I must say, the 66ers Dance Team has several uniform variations…more on that later.
Their performance was all too short and then it was time for player introductions and the national anthem.
With the first pitch, the girls retired to Byron’s office to relax and grab a bite to eat before their next scheduled performance in the middle of the third inning. In my last article, I noted that the girls are treated very well and the catered food is outstanding. These girls are well cared for by Byron and the 66ers organization and it really is a family atmosphere. It’s unique and refreshing.
Soon it was time to head on downstairs for their next performance. The 66ers Dance Team performs in the middle of the third, fifth, and seventh inning on the dugouts of the home and away teams. Now it must be noted that the changeover in the middle of the inning is not a very long time. But it is enough to allow the dancers to perform a choreographed routine for about a minute and half…all too short in my opinion.
I have to share one interesting story and that has to do with a last minute uniform change. On Saturday, the girls were asked, on very short notice, to change into a different uniform top and bottom. In fact, there were only two outs remaining in the top of the 5th inning before the girls were expected to perform during the changeover. So they had to hustle. Not a problem right? Except for two of the girls were on the field with the grounds crew who had just finished dragging (smoothing out or what I call “raking”) the infield. A quick call was made to the field crew and the two remaining girls ran up to Byron’s suite to hurriedly change into their new uniforms.
I rushed downstairs immediately because and I didn’t want to get trampled as the stampede of girls rushed down the two flights of stairs to the dugout. After an incredibly short time, the first of the 10 dancers arrived. She must have been a quick change artist because it was only a minute or two ago that she was upstairs in a completely different outfit. Then another one showed up from a different direction. And another. And then two more. It was a Chinese fire drill of cheerleaders coming from everywhere. Most were still trying to loop their belts into their shorts. It was very amusing and I had good time watching this unfold.
Finally, the last two girls showed up, in time and in the new uniforms. These last two outs seemed like an eternity, but in reality it must have been only five or six minutes before the players were retired and time for the girls to perform.
Oh and here are a few photos of the girls in the uniform that caused all this commotion. Fortunately, they were allowed to wear them for the 7th inning performance, so no quick change was necessary.
I must say that all of the 66ers dancers are very nice. They are quite a hit with the fans judging by the number of people who asked them for an autograph or to take a picture with them. They are very approachable and interesting to talk to. They are true ambassadors of the team and well beloved by the fans. The Inland Empire 66ers Dance Team, worth the price of admission.
If you want to spend an enjoyable evening watching some baseball and be entertained by a beautiful dance team, then you should check out the Inland Empire 66ers.
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I want to thank Byron Marquez and the Inland Empires 66ers organization for allowing me to cover the squad again. And a special thanks to Amber, Kela and Preston for their hospitality. I had a wonderful time at the ballpark.