By Dave Baxter (@davebbbaxter)
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Goldeyes capped off their championship season with a championship party at Shaw Park on Wednesday night.
Two days after beating the Wichita Wingnuts 11-4 in the deciding game of the 2016 American Association (AA) championship series, the Winnipeg Goldeyes brought their championship trophy and banner home and held a celebration for their fans.
The celebration saw the club proudly show off their trophy and banner, and also saw Goldeyes players, coaches and executives address the fans that showed up to help the Goldeyes celebrate.
Winnipeg Goldeyes manager Rick Forney couldn’t be at the celebration as he has already returned to his home in the U.S., but he addressed the players and the crowd in a video message played at the ballpark.
“What a magical season it was, and the best four-and-a-half months that I’ve spent in Winnipeg,” Forney said about the 2016 Goldeyes season.
“It was a complete joy to come to the park every day and be around those guys.”
Forney also credited the loyal Goldeyes fans for being a part of the team’s championship season.
“Fans, I really appreciate and respect what you guys do for our club. You are a big piece of our success out there,” Forney said.
The Goldeyes didn’t make it easy on themselves on their way to the 2016 championship, as they had to win the very last game of the regular season just to qualify for the playoffs, and then were forced to win four games on the road when facing elimination in the playoffs.
Goldeyes general manager Andrew Collier spoke about the resiliency of the 2016 Goldeyes.
“I love this team, the most resilient team here in 23 years. They battled back, they didn’t quit,” Collier said.
Goldeyes owner Sam Katz said his only hope now is that the Goldeyes can soon clinch a championship in their home park.
“We experienced the ecstasy of winning the fifth game,” Katz said. “The agony for me and many others was not having our fans there to watch them do what they did, and be able to celebrate with them.”
Katz said he believes that “in the very near future” the Goldeyes will clinch a championship at home in front of their fans.
Goldeyes slugger Reggie Abercrombie saluted the Winnipeg fans.
“The fans are our most prized possession,” Abercrombie said. “You’ve had our backs the whole season, coming out every day and cheering for us. This trophy right here is for y’all.”
Goldeyes players spent time after the presentation talking to fans and signing autographs in the stands.