The Colorado Springs Sky Sox will spend a few nights in April dressed as Millionaires.
Confused? Well, that’s one of the many things the local minor league baseball team wants to clear up.
Confronted with widespread misconceptions about its future, the Sky Sox are launching a seasonlong campaign called “Cheers to 45 More Years” to celebrate Colorado Springs’ professional baseball past while also providing context for changes that await in the 2019 season when the team drops from Triple-A to short-season Rookie League.
“You can literally walk down the street and ask three different people what is going on with the Sky Sox and you’ll get three different answers,” team president and general manager Tony Ensor said Thursday. “Our job is to communicate that professional baseball is here to stay. That’s why we chose the ‘Cheers to 45 More Years’ campaign.”
The campaign will celebrate the different eras of professional baseball in the city. It will begin with the team donning replica jerseys of the Colorado Springs Millionaires (1901-16) in the home opener April 10.
The Millionaires will be the focus in April, and in each subsequent month the team will honor a different period of professional baseball by wearing the corresponding jerseys on Friday games, video presentations and other ways to educate fans about the city and team in that time.
After the Millionaires will be the original Sky Sox (1950-58), an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. Then came the current iteration, which began as a Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians beginning in 1988 when Dave Elmore relocated the franchise here from Hawaii. In 1993 the team became the top affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, and in 2015 it began its current partnership with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The jerseys will be auctioned off at the end of each month.
The team hopes to bring in past players from each era, beginning with the 1950s, as part of this tribute to what it sees as its ancestry.
“We haven’t always been the Sky Sox, as we’ve had so many different levels of play, different identities, different affiliates, different uniforms and even different stadiums over the course of our long history,” Ensor said. “The only thing that has remained constant, other than change itself, is Colorado Springs and professional baseball.”
The team hopes the campaign will help fans understand what the upcoming move will entail and that it is not entirely unique for a minor league city. Ensor stressed that he believes this will be a positive, as weather in Colorado Springs is far more conducive to baseball in June, July and August, when the short-season team will play, than it is in April and May when the Triple-A season begins.
The team intends to offer the same promotions and fireworks, but notes that with 38 – instead of 70 – home dates to fill it can only utilize the most popular of those offerings.
Conveying these points has been a challenge for the team’s leadership over the past two years, when rumors of a change began to circulate. Ultimately, the Elmore Sports Group opted for a wholesale shift of its teams. The Triple-A Sky Sox will move to San Antonio. The Double-A team in San Antonio will move to a new stadium in Amarillo, Texas. Colorado Springs will then receive the Pioneer League team that plays in Helena, Mont.
It’s a lot to digest, but Ensor hopes this campaign will educate fans about what is happening.
“When you think about it, the past 45 seasons of professional baseball in Colorado Springs has been an incredible progression,” Ensor said. “As this community has changed and grown, so has professional baseball. The 2019 season and beyond represents the next progression of professional baseball in this community, and we here at the Sky Sox couldn’t be more excited for the next 45 years.”