Durham Bulls Top 10 Moments of 2015
2015 marked another historic season of Durham Bulls baseball. From attendance records to another winning season to breakout prospects, the year offered constant surprises and memorable moments. On the doorstep of a new year, we look back at the Durham Bulls Top 10 moments of 2015.
*Editor’s Note: Please take the term “moments” lightly. Some of these are not actual “moments.” We are aware of that. Bear with us.
10. The DBAP Hosts the ACC Tournament
This season Durham Bulls Athletic Park kicked off a four-year run as the site of the ACC Tournament. The six-day event drew a total of 64,140 fans (third most in tournament history), while the championship game between NC State and Florida State drew a tournament-record 9,759 fans.
9. Mike Birling is Named International League Executive of the Year
For the second time in his career, Bulls General Manager Mike Birling earned the IL’s Executive of the Year award. After starting with the club in 1998, Birling led the franchise to back-to-back single-season paid attendance records in 2014 and 2015, while guiding the team through the process of hosting the 2012 Triple-A National Championship Game, 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game and the 2015 ACC Tournament.
8. Jared Sandberg Named Durham’s New Manager
On January 20 Jared Sandberg became the youngest manager in the Triple-A ranks when he was named the new skipper for the Durham Bulls. Just 37, he led Durham to a 74-70 mark, despite seeing the team undergo a franchise-record 213 roster moves and playing in a division in which every team finished at least four games above .500. He became just the fourth manager in the franchise’s Triple-A history (1998-present), following an eight-year stint by Charlie Montoyo.
7. DBAP Celebrates 20th Anniversary Season
2015 marked the 20th anniversary for one of Minor League Baseball’s most iconic ballparks. In the preseason fans voted for the All-DBAP Team, players wore a special commemorative patch on their jerseys and fans shared their favorite ballpark moments all season long using #DBAP20.
6. Joey Butler Hits Walk-Off Home Run
On April 24 against Gwinnett, Joey Butler cracked a walk-off, two-run homer to beat the G-Braves 8-6. It marked the first time Durham had won a game via a walk-off dinger since Aug. 11, 2013, and was the team’s only win via a walk-off homer of 2015.
5. Boog Powell Becomes a Human Highlight Reel
Promoted from Double-A Montgomery at the end of June, Boog Powell made the most of his time in the Bull City, turning in highlight reel catches regularly. The play below earned him No. 2 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays, while he also turned in this play and this play. A fan favorite, BOOOOOOOOOOOG was traded to Seattle in November.
4. Richie Shaffer Hits Three Homers in One Game
On June 12 at Louisville, Richie Shaffer cracked three home runs in Durham’s 11-7 win over the Bats. Promoted from Double-A Montgomery just 20 days earlier, Shaffer became just the third Bull in the team’s Triple-A history – and first since 2009 – to hit three homers in one game. The 24-year-old posted four multi-homer games for Durham after he had never had a multi-homer game in his career prior to joining the Bulls.
3. Matt Moore Strikes Out 16
Gaining strength after returning from Tommy John surgery, Matt Moore struck out 16 Columbus Clippers in six innings on Aug. 22 at the DBAP. The southpaw broke the franchise’s Triple-A single-game record for strikeouts, breaking the previous best of 13 set by him and two others.
2. Blake Snell Takes the International League by Storm
After joining the Bulls in late-July, Blake Snell was brilliant over the first nine Triple-A starts of his career. The left-hander allowed one earned run or fewer in eight of his nine starts with Durham, and from the time of his promotion through the end of the season led the league in opponent’s average (.187) and ranked second in wins (6), ERA (1.83) and strikeouts (57). At the end of the season he was crowned the Minor League Player of the Year by both USA Today and Baseball America.
1. Bulls Set Numerous Attendance Records
In 2014 the Bulls completed a $20 million renovation and hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game en route to breaking the franchise’s single-season paid attendance record by drawing 533,033 fans. In 2015 the organization shattered that record – drawing 554,788 fans to the DBAP – over 21,000 fans more than the 2014 campaign. The 20th anniversary season of the DBAP saw the stadium hold a record 15 sellout crowds, hold three capacity-plus crowds on three consecutive days for the first time ever, and set a new single-game paid attendance record on July 4 with 11,871 fans.
From all of us here at the Bulls, we wish you a happy, safe and healthy New Year, and we can’t wait to see you at the DBAP in 2016!