Despite one of the rainiest summers on record, fans still helped the Somerset Patriots top the Atlantic League in total (369,119) and average (5,127) attendance for the second straight year. It was also the third consecutive season the Somerset Patriots led in total attendance.
“The unbelievable support from our fans, partners, and the community is never something our organization or the Kalafer family takes for granted,” said Somerset Patriots chairman Steve Kalafer. “20 years in and we continue to grow and work every day to provide the very best experience at the ballpark and in everything that we do. We’re excited about the future and the next 20 years in Somerset County.”
Fans’ love for the team was fully on display when 8,143 spectators set a new Atlantic League Playoffs attendance record to cheer the Somerset Patriots in Game 3 of the Liberty Division Series. The fans helped the team rally from an 0-2 deficit in the series to force an exciting and deciding Game 5 at home.
On Saturday, June 2nd, the Somerset Patriots celebrated the 20th Anniversary of TD Bank Ballpark with a special ceremony that brought together the people that helped make our home a possibility. Past and present elected officials, dignitaries, architects, builders, and other members of the community crucial to the ballpark’s existence were recognized for all their efforts.
There was also a lot to celebrate on the field. The season began with a walk-off win and ended with an exciting playoff series that went to a decisive Game 5. The Somerset Patriots won the Liberty Division First Half Championship, extending their Atlantic League record with 19 Half Titles. By doing so, the team advanced to their sixth straight postseason under manager Brett Jodie and their 15th in franchise history.
Infielder Craig Massey won the league’s batting title, hitting .338 for the season. Another notable performance came from shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez, who was named the Somerset Patriots Team MVP and the 2018 Atlantic League All-Star Game MVP.
Pitcher Vince Molesky finished second in the league with a 2.65 ERA and reliever Mike Antonini led the bullpen with his miniscule 1.41 ERA.
On Wednesday, August 29th, the Somerset Patriots won their 1,500th game in franchise history, becoming the fastest and only team in the league to reach the milestone.
“We had a great group of guys this year that really wanted to win,” said Jodie. “You can say that most years, but you really saw it with this team. They battled together and became a tight-knit family. We were extremely close to getting it done. Winning championships is always the goal, and we fell short there, but I believe that it shouldn’t take away from the hard work the team put in each night to represent the organization and the fans the right way.”
The 20th Somerset Patriot to make the Major Leagues after time with the club occurred on July 13th when left-handed pitcher Jeremy Bleich was called up to the Oakland A’s. Right-handed pitcher Scott Copeland, who the Patriots signed for spring training, had his contract purchased by the New York Mets before the Atlantic League season started and he was also called up to the majors.
As aligned with the organization’s mission each year, the Somerset Patriots were very active in the community, raising money for charities, donating tickets to various non-profits, and spreading important messages to children in the community.
Infielder and fan-favorite Scott Kelly appeared at dozens of schools teaching kids to make smart choices and live healthy lifestyles by giving them a simple plan to follow each day.
“It starts with what you can do for yourself to help you on your way to success,” said Kelly. “It sometimes helps to hear these topics from somebody new. Eating healthy and exercising are the first steps. Making the right choices and being around the right people, as well as being good to others, can help you be the best version of yourself.”
The team also partnered with the NJEA during the school year and Somerset County Library Services and the Courier News/Home News Tribune/MyCentralJersey.Com in the summer to encourage reading. Over 10,000 children participated in the programs over the course of the year.
The Somerset Patriots also used the ballpark on special nights to recognize teachers of the year, most improved students, veterans, first responders, and local coaches.
Now comes the off-season and all the planning for the 2019 campaign, beginning in late April. The schedule is currently in the works and will be announced in the coming weeks.