Dan Mason wasn’t sure what to expect last August when the Rochester Red Wings hosted their first “Plates Night,” a tribute to a local popular delicacy creatively called the Garbage Plate. Sure, the Red Wings general manager was familiar with the success of other franchises adopting the moniker of favorite foods — see Tacos in Fresno and Bacon in Lehigh Valley — and he hoped for a similar response in Rochester when the team swapped their Red Wings name for a dish created a century ago.
The response, it turned out, went beyond Mason’s expectations. It was one for the books. The Red Wings, or rather the Plates, welcomed the fifth-largest crowd in Frontier Field history on Aug. 10 — 13,281 fans to be exact, just shy of the record 13,723 set in 1997 for an exhibition against the Baltimore Orioles.
“People love their Garbage Plates,” Mason said yesterday of the dish made famous at Nick Tahou Hots restaurant that consists of home fries topped with macaroni salad, two hamburger patties or hot dogs, hot sauce, onions, ketchup and mustard. “It’s something people in Rochester are very proud of.”
So, it is certainly no surprise that Plates Night is playing a prominent role on the Red Wings’ promotional schedule this season. In fact, Rochester will be donning their Plates jerseys for every Thursday home game, beginning this evening with “Plates Opening Night.” While Mason doesn’t expect the team to make a run at the attendance record again tonight, particularly on a school night when temperatures are still a bit chilly, he does have high hopes for a packed promotion.
In addition to Garbage Plates on sale at the ballpark, the highlight of the homestand might very well be the debut of Plates P’ale, a craft beer created by the local Rohrbach Brewery in honor of the Plates’ return. The brew will be sold at Frontier Field throughout the season and will be discounted during an Opening Night happy hour. The new offering is a follow-up to Rohrbach’s original Red Wing Ale, which debuted in 1992. As minor league blogger extraordinaire Ben Hill notes, Plates P’ale is likely the first beer based on an alternate team identity in minor league history.
Other opening night notables include:
- All tickets are just $5.85 — a play on Rochester’s 585 area code.
- The first 100 fans entering the stadium wearing Plates gear will receive a free commemorative trash can — see what they did there?
- Fans wearing Plates gear could also have the opportunity to throw out a first pitch. Mason said the team is trying to cycle through as many first pitch throwers as possible during a 20-minute stretch before the game.
“It’s really been great to see so many people taking pride in our community,” Mason said. “It’s been a real rallying cry and something that people have really embraced. We’re going to have some fun with the Plates again this year.”