Otters make new fans, bring daddy-daughter duo closer | Sports

Major League Baseball paid tribute to the movie “A Field of Dreams” Thursday night, a story of a father and son bonding through baseball. This year, the Evansville Otters have had a similar affect on a dad and daughter who live nearly 500 miles from Bosse Field.

“I went to baseball games, but I never cared,” says new Evansville Otters fan and Westlake, Ohio resident Maddie Burke. “The Otters basically changed baseball for me.”

The Evansville Otters have their share of casual, loyal and super fans. However, all of them call the Tri-State home. But that all changed in late June in Northeast Ohio, thanks to Maddie Burke and her father, who were Lake Erie Crusher fans.

“Maddie really had the idea that”, says Andrew Burke, Maddie’s father, “you know these kids are on the road, they’re not taking a ton of money, they don’t have many fans here, we’re sitting on that side of the stadium anyway, let’s just root for them.”

Unfortunately, all that rooting didn’t translate into an Otters victory, but it started something much bigger.

“We with a father and his daughter walking off the field,” says McCauley. “They were applauding the Otters, it was a good game. And some of my guys went over to talk to them for a little bit just on their way off the field. Just from that initial meeting, during a loss, which is a tough thing after you’ve just been swept, to take the time out to talk to the enemy’s fans.”

The very next night, the Maddie and her father, noticing the visitors dugout was devoid of treats, returned bearing gifts.

“We took them some candy in the third or fourth inning and then they hit a home run right afterwards,” says Andrew. “So we started calling them rally snacks. Then we did it again with the same result. And the guys were so nice after the game. They took time to talk to Maddie. Just some of the positive things we heard, sitting right by the on deck circle.”

“We were struggling the least time we were there,” says Evansville Otters outfielder Elijah MacNamee. One game, and they bought some treats and we started score. So I think they kind of felt important in that situation to continuously bring us snacks. It’s pretty cool, because we’re in pro ball, and when you have people that are just willing to give you things like that, we were just very thankful and it was pretty cool to watch.”

“And from that it just kind of exploded,” Andrew says.

That it did. Maddie asked her dad to buy her a subscription to watch the Otters online, which she watched religiously. Andrew also went to buy her some Otters gear online, when the team’s front office learned about Maddie’s love of all things Otters, they swung into action, beginning with a phone call from manager Andy McCauley.

“I hear you have a birthday coming up,” McCauley said.

“I do,” Maddie said. “Thank you!”

“Happy birthday,” McCauley said. “I was wondering, if you have time, we’re in town again. I was hoping we could see you. Are you going to be out?”

“Yeah, of course,” Maddie said.

“Okay, great,” McCauley said. “We’re taking batting practice today and we’re inviting you to batting practice.”

“Really?” Maddie asked.

“Yeah, if you want to come a little early,” McCauley said.

“Oh my God!,” Maddie exclaimed, “Thank you!”

However, the surprises didn’t end there. After batting practice, McCauley and star outfielder Elijah MacNamee had some gifts waiting for the birthday girl.

“Got you an otter,” McCauley said.

“Thank you!” Maddie exclaimed.

Maddie and her father didn’t come empty handed either, serving the Otters homemade jambalaya. Solidifying the bond between them and the team.

“It’s cool to see a little girl come up to the field and she looks at us like super heroes with a smile on her face,” says MacNamee. “It’s blowing her mind that she’s out on the field with us during BP one of those days. At the the end of the day, this is just a game. It doesn’t define us. At the end of the day, we were all in her shoes at one point, so making her feel special is pretty neat for us.”

“It’s weird,” McCauley says. “But, this team here, that I have in that clubhouse is like no other team that I’ve had. Just really personable. Really outgoing. Like meeting people from different parts of the Country. And they do a great job of making themselves accessible and spending time with the fans, whether at home here at Bosse or on the road.”

As special as this connection between a team and a young fan is, it takes a backseat to the new bond it’s created between father and daughter.

“I think it brought me and my dad closer,” Maddie says. “With that cooking stuff, we got to cook and talk, with Christian music playing in the background, Baseball brought us closer, because I started asking questions 24-7.”

“It was the last thing I expected,” says Andrew. “It was the last thing I expected. Maddie and I are extremely close. We do everything together any way, baseball was just a thing that we did. I’ve always been really into baseball, but this has really reignited that. We talk about baseball. Look at teams, look at players. She thinks we’re talking about baseball. I’m just getting to hang out with my 12 or 13 year old daughter.”

Just to see that relationship between a father and daughter. My daughter just turned seven and you hope and pray that we develop a relationship, whether it’s baseball or croquet or cricket, whatever it could be, that we have something we can share and both have a love for down the road.>. Maddie and I are extremely close. We do everything together any way, baseball was just a thing that we did. I’ve always been really into baseball, but this has really reignited that. We talk about baseball. Look at teams, look at players. She thinks we’re talking about baseball. I’m just getting to hang out with my 12 or 13 year old daughter. “

“Just to see that relationship between a father and daughter,” McCauley says. “My daughter just turned seven and you hope and pray that we develop a relationship, whether it’s baseball or croquet or cricket, whatever it could be, that we have something we can share and both have a love for down the road.”

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