The Kane County Cougars expect to celebrate a milestone Saturday by welcoming their 10 millionth fan, a mark that has never been hit by a Class A minor league baseball team.
"That says a lot about our organization and all the people involved, the great fans and loyal sponsors. It's been a great run here in Kane County," Cougars General manager Curtis Haug said. "When we first came into the market, we were probably the first minor league baseball team that came to a major metropolitan area. People said it wasn't going to work. In a sense, we were pioneers."
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The team expects to hit the milestone shortly after gates open at 4:30 p.m. for the 6:30 p.m. game against the Lansing Lugnuts at Fifth Third Ballpark in Geneva.
The lucky fan will be greeted by Haug and Ozzie, the Cougars mascot, and receive an avalanche of gifts, including a game-issued number 10 jersey, an autographed team bat, and a 10-game season package for the 2014 season.
The fan also will throw out the first pitch and be recognized on the field after the game.
According to Minor League Baseball, in addition to being the first Class A team to hit 10,000,000 in attendance, the Cougars are the fifth fastest minor league team (including Double A and Triple A) to hit that mark.
The team is 23 years old and 121 former Cougars have made it to the major leagues, including two who played in the All-Star game this week: Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers and Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers.
Haug credited early team leaders and former Kane County Forest Preserve District president Phil Elfstrom for having the vision to bring the team to Kane County, as well as Bill Larsen -- the team's first general manager -- who sought to provide entertainment for the entire family.
"Baseball appeals to a certain faction of people. But when you entertain people, everybody in the family is engaged," Haug said. "That was crucial and that's what really worked."
Haug said ticket sales are up "significantly" this year as the Cougars are now the Class A affiliate for the Chicago Cubs.
"A lot of Chicago Cubs fans are in the area and they're getting the opportunity to see the future of the Chicago Cubs," he said.
For more information or tickets, visit kcougars.com.