The Fresno Grizzlies just finished up their best season in franchise history. They set a club record for wins by going 84-59 in the regular season. That was followed by a trip to the playoffs and winning the Pacific Coast League championship for the first time in the club’s history. Then, they won the Triple-A title in a one-game, winner-take-all showdown on national television against the Columbus Clippers.
But, what is a winning ball club without fans? It’s no secret, over their last 17 years in Fresno, the Grizzlies have had a hard time drawing big crowds. But the fans who do attend, like season ticket holders David Noblett and his son, Rhett, keep the game going, building relationships with players and cheering them on through wins and losses.
When Rhett started little league in 2011 and wanted to check out a major league game, a trip to Chukchansi Park with his father was a trial run. Five seasons and dozens of games later, trial run has turned into tradition. And the Grizzlies have gained two of their most devoted fans.
Noblett grew up in the Los Angeles area going to Dodgers games. He says it doesn’t matter what affiliation the Fresno team has, it’s spending time with his son and watching a good game that keep him coming back. For Rhett, his father says it was the players that had him hooked by his second trip to Chukchansi Park back in 2011. Rhett was already studying stats and had a favorite player, Brett Pill, whom he still keeps in touch with today although Pill no longer plays for the Grizzlies.
So, who’s the bigger fan? The kid who recently asked to have his bedroom painted orange and black and decorated in a Grizzlies theme? Or the father who said OK and helped him put it all together? Noblett says at this point it’s a toss up.
Here, Noblett talks about his history as a Grizzlies fan, what the team’s incredible 2015 season meant to him and why he’s already looking forward to April.