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Eric Peterson, Published August 14 2012

VIDEO: RedHawks draw 3 millionth fan, beat rival Winnipeg

FARGO – Rick Rude helped install the permanent green seats at Newman Outdoor Field in June 1996, which was the inaugural season for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. His wife became part of the independent baseball team’s history 17 years later.

Nikki Rude became the 3 millionth fan for the RedHawks on Tuesday night, and watched the home team earn an 8-2 American Association victory against the rival Winnipeg Goldeyes before 4,309 fans.

“I was laughing because I told my husband it should be him because he was the one who was really stoked about coming tonight,” said Nikki Rude, who is from West Fargo. “He was right behind me. … He’s the bigger baseball fan, so he will be excited.”

The RedHawks (54-28) hit the attendance milestone on the 41st home game of their 17th season.

“It’s almost a miracle,” RedHawks president Bruce Thom said of reaching 3 million fans. “It’s a well-oiled machine now after 17 years. … The fans of Fargo-Moorhead and the surrounding area deserve this night. It’s all about them. It’s about the fans.”

Tuesday night was the first RedHawks’ game the Rudes attended this season.

“Don’t tell anyone,” Nikki said with a laugh. “Last year we were here a lot.”

The couple said they usually attend around 10 games per season. They’ve been coming to games since 1996, but have never had season tickets.

Nikki Rude won season tickets as part of her prize package. She also got a “3 millionth fan” RedHawks jersey.

“We’ve never had season tickets so this is kind of neat,” Nikki Rude said. “Now that we do that will be fun so we’re kind of excited.”

Shortstop Zach Penprase got the RedHawks fans excited in the first inning with a solo home run. F-M exploded for five runs in the fourth inning to take an 8-2 lead. Penprase, in his fifth season with F-M, finished with three hits.

“RedHawks fans are the best,” Penprase said. “They come out and we’re winning right now so they are going to come out even more. … It’s awesome that we got 3 million fans. It’s cool.”

RedHawks general manager Josh Buchholz pulled aside Nikki Rude, who was wearing a RedHawks T-shirt, soon after she passed through the turnstile about a half hour prior to the game’s first pitch.

Moments later, she was being doused with confetti. She also received congratulations from RedHawks manager Doug Simunic, who has managed the team for 17 seasons.

“It’s a pretty good feat; 17 years, 3 million people,” Simunic said. “The organization should be proud of itself for just that. … Hats off to the fans; they are the ones that drive this and make this go.”

Nikki let her husband throw out one of the game’s first ceremonial pitches. The couple got to sit in seats directly behind home plate.

“This was amazing,” Nikki said soon after the game’s final out was recorded.

The RedHawks’ 1 millionth fan was Jaynette Lesko, from Dilworth, Minn. Lesko earned that distinction on June 13, 2001. The team’s 2 millionth fan was Douglas Loveland, from Oswego, N.Y. That milestone happened on June 16, 2007.

Nikki Rude said part of the reason she didn’t come to more games this season was due to the extremely hot temperatures earlier this summer. The temperature hovered around 70 degrees Tuesday evening.

“This is my perfect night,” she said.

NOTES: Right-hander Alex Caldera (9-2, 3.53 ERA) is scheduled to start today for the RedHawks. Winnipeg is expected to counter with right-hander Ace Walker (6-4, 3.68 ERA). … The RedHawks are 9-4 against Winnipeg this season, winning the past nine meetings. … F-M has a 26-15 record at Newman this season.

Winnipeg RedHawks

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Kndal,ss 4 0 0 0 Pnprse,ss 4 1 3 1

Rbrsn,cf 4 0 0 0 Stovall,lf 5 0 0 0

dCster,2b 4 1 1 1 Jacksn,cf 3 0 0 1

Mzla,1b,rf4 0 0 0 Cmpbl,3b 4 0 0 0

Weber,dh 3 1 1 0 Delgdo,dh 4 1 1 0

Alen,1b,c 4 0 1 0 Gaston,rf 4 1 1 1

Coles,lf 4 0 0 0 Cota,2b 3 2 2 1

Day,c,rf 3 0 1 0 Rdrguz,1b 3 2 2 2

Ramn,3b 3 0 1 0 Jennings,c 3 1 2 1

Totals 33 2 5 1 Totals 33 8 11 7

Winnipeg 000 200 000–2 5 1

RedHawks 120 500 00x–8 11 2

E–deCaster (12), Coles (1), Campbell (10), Gaston (3). 2B–Ramon (14), Gaston (15), Rodriguez (20), Jennings (9). HR–deCaster (9), Penprase (3), Cota (2). LOB–Winnipeg 5, FM 6.

WINNIPEG

IP H R ER BB SO

Privett,L,5-5 3 9 8 8 1 2

Jones 5 2 0 0 2 5

REDHAWKS

IP H R ER BB SO

Herron,W,9-3 7 5 2 1 1 4

Dahman 2 0 0 0 0 1

Umpires–Home: Riggers. First: Bakke. Third: Stureman. Time–2:25. A–4,309.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com