News 12 at 11 o'clock, May 21, 2009
RICHMOND COUNTY, Ga.---Major-league all-star John Smoltz hits the mound at Lake Olmstead Stadium, bringing in huge crowds.
It also brings a huge smile from Rob Richards watching it all from the stands.
"He loves the fans. He does charity work. I mean he's what baseball players ought to be. He's a hero," says Richards.
Smoltz helped sell out the seats for his first game in about a year, attracting fans like Tabitha Carroll.
"It is very awesome. Soon as I saw it we went and bought tickets the same day to come see him so we wouldn't miss out," says Carroll.
Her family loves watching the Greenjackets even if Smoltz isn't there. They come to about five or six games a season and the economy isn't slowing them down.
"Oh I love it. We're all baseball fanatics so it's a good family routine and outing because we all like it," she says.
Individual ticket sales for Greenjackets games are actually up and so is attendance. The slumping economy is making baseball a big hit.
"Just all the turmoil going around with the economy, people need to get away from those things. They come out here three hours or so and get away from those things," says General Manager Nick Brown.
He says they've been doing some special things to attract families, but he says what really brings people in right now is the price, which for Carroll is a home run.
"Especially on like tonight when the drinks are a dollar so you can't beat that," she says.
"With tickets starting at six or seven dollars, that's still three dollars cheaper than a movie theater," says Brown.
Even though Smoltz pitching brought Richards out to his first game this season, the Greenjackets can still count on people like Carroll to keep fans in the stands.