Founded in 1997
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||Eastern League (1980-present)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Current||Cleveland Indians (1989-present)|
|Minor league titles|
|Nickname||Akron RubberDucks (2014-present)|
|Colors||Black, blue, orange, yellow, white
|Ballpark||Canal Park (1997-present)|
|General Manager||Jim Pfander|
The Akron RubberDucks are a Minor League Baseball team based in Akron, Ohio. The team, which plays in the Eastern League, is the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. From 1997 to 2013, the team was named the Akron Aeros.
The RubberDucks play in Canal Park, located in downtown Akron, which seats 7,630 fans. The nickname "RubberDucks" refers to Akron's history in the rubber industry, in particular as the birthplace of tire and rubber companies such as Goodyear, Firestone, Goodrich and General Tire.
The franchise began to play in 1980 in Lynn, Massachusetts, where it was named the Lynn Sailors. The team served as the Double-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners from 1980 to 1982 and the Double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1983. After four seasons in Massachusetts, owner Mike Agganis moved the team northward to Burlington, Vermont. From 1984 through 1987, the franchise was known as the Vermont Reds and were the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, winning three-straight Eastern League championships from 1984 to 1986. In 1988, they became the Vermont Mariners for one year when the Seattle Mariners picked up the franchise to serve as its Double-A affiliate. During their stint in Vermont, the franchise made the playoffs every year and won three straight Eastern League titles from 1984 to 1986.
In 1989, the team moved to Canton, Ohio, becoming the Cleveland Indians' Double-A affiliate, and played eight seasons at Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium as the Canton-Akron Indians, one of many entities (another example is the Akron-Canton Regional Airport) to use the names of both cities. The "Little Indians" made another five straight playoff appearances from 1989 to 1993, and won the regular-season title in 1992. However, they were never successful at bringing home a league championship trophy.
The franchise did not advance to the postseason in 1994. This snapped a 12-year streak of postseason play from 1982 to 1993.
On November 22, 1994, Agganis signed a lease agreement with the city of Akron to move the club to that city. It took another two years to build the new Canal Park, which included a selection of architects, land acquisition, and demolition of the Anthony Wayne Hotel which had stood on the new stadium site. Groundbreaking was held on January 5, 1996, and the stadium was completed in February 1997. Meantime, the new "Aeros" nickname had been chosen in November 1996 over the other choices, "Spirit" and "Quest", and replacing a prior working nickname, the "Akron Blast." "Blast" had been chosen in honor of Akron-born astronaut Judith Resnik (who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster), but changed when many misinterpreted it.
Opening Day on April 10, 1997, marked the debut of the Akron Aeros. With 9,086 fans in attendance, the Aeros and Harrisburg Senators played the first game at Canal Park. The Aeros went on to finish the season with a record of 51-90. Despite the last place record, the team drew a Double-A league-leading 473,272 fans to Canal Park that season.
In the 1998 season, the Aeros put together a 30-game "worst-to-first" turnaround; after finishing the prior year 34½ games back, they proceeded to win the Southern Division that season by 8½ games. However, after losing in the playoffs that year, it would be three more years until the Aeros found their way back to the postseason.
On September 6, 1999, the Aeros set an Eastern League attendance record for three straight seasons and once again led all Double-A teams after 522,459 fans attended Canal Park in 1999.
In 2002, the team posted a 93-48 record, the third-highest win total in the Eastern League in 50 years. They built on that success and finally won two league championships (their first since moving to Ohio) in 2003 and 2005. In 2006, the Aeros again posted the best regular-season record in the league, but lost the playoff title to Portland after taking the series to a deciding fifth game.
From 2005 to 2008, the Aeros advanced to the Eastern League Championship Series. Although the Aeros won the ELCS in 2005, they were defeated in three consecutive trips from 2006 to 2008.
In 2009, the Aeros again advanced to the league championship and defeated the Connecticut Defenders (three games to one) capping a 95-win season and their third title in the last seven years. Jared Head was named the playoff MVP.
In their first three seasons in Canal Park, the Aeros led all of Double-A in attendance, becoming the first team at that level to draw a half-million fans in a single season.
On October 29, 2013, the Akron Aeros officially changed their name to the Akron RubberDucks.
Eastern League o Double-A affiliate of Cleveland Indians
Note: Place indicates finish in Eastern League's Northern Division from 1980 to 1982; in divisionless Eastern League from 1983 to 1993; in Eastern League's Southern Division from 1994 to 2009; in Eastern League's Western Division from 2010-present
Over the off-season between the 2010-2011 season, the Aeros received national attention after introducing a number of new promotions as well as menu items at Canal Park. The team was featured in a segment titled "Back in Black" during The Daily Show performed by comedian Lewis Black. In the segment, Black talks about several of the menu items including The "Three Dog Night" consisting of a hot dog in a Bratwurst in a Kielbasa, and "The Nice to Meat You Burger". The food was also covered by CNBC Sports Financial Analyst Darren Rovell.
For the 2016 season, several different promotions were announced, including (but not limited to) Thirsty Thursdays, Star Wars Night on May 4, Shooter McGavin Bobblehead Night, and An action-filled two days for the Eastern League All-Star Game.
Several outlets throughout Northeast Ohio cover the RubberDucks including SportsTime Ohio, as do all four Cleveland television stations. In print, the RubberDucks are covered by Akron News Now (a website run by radio group, Rubber City Radio), and longtime standard The Akron Beacon Journal
Games are broadcast over WARF-AM Fox Sports 1350. Jim Clark, in his 25th year in 2017, as well as local broadcaster David Wilson call play by play.
On August 12, 2017, the RubberDucks reported their highest single-game attendance since rebranding of 8,396 fans.
|Season||Total attendance||League rank||Total Aeros openings||Average attendance per Aeros opening
||Average attendance per Eastern League opening
(not including Aeros openings)