Friday, July 4, 2008 | 4:35 a.m.
The night of July 3 brought fans out for a bundle of American traditions: beers, baseball and the birthday of our country.
Close to 12,000 spectators came out to watch the matchup of the Las Vegas 51s and Salt Lake Bees at Cashman Field on Thursday night. The early holiday-goers brought Cashman its largest attendance this season.
Some came as fans, others came for the $1 beers, but most came for the fireworks and to kick off the Fourth of July weekend.
Despite the heat, families and friends huddled close on stadium bleachers and blankets spread out in the grass behind right field. The beer line seemed to wrap endlessly around the park as fans waited with their 12-ounce cups for the cheap brews.
The beginning of the game brought a slow start for the home team. The 51s went scoreless for the first six innings as the Bees notched six runs. Though the home team was behind, it didn’t stop Vegas fans from having a good time.
For Michelle Newcomb and Michelle Matlock, both of Las Vegas, the night kicked off the three-day weekend and was a chance to get together outside of work.
“We came with a group of about 30 people from our job. Someone decided to get a group together so it inspired us to come out, too -- and the fact that it was a firework night,” Newcomb said.
“It’s more of a time for us to socialize and catch up,” Matlock said as the two women sipped their beers.
As for Fourth of July plans, Matlock and Newcomb are staying close to home.
“Just barbecues and hanging by the pool,” Newcomb said.
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July 4 Special Section
The 51s gained a place on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth with six runs, including homeruns from outfielder John-Ford Griffin and catcher A.J. Ellis, to tie up the game. A sea of royal blue hats jutted through the air as fans started the wave from one end of the stadium to the other to celebrate the comeback.
But with such a large crowd, it made it difficult for some regulars to enjoy the game.
“I come to 51s games a lot but I’ve never seen such a large crowd. It’s almost impossible to watch the game when it’s like this,” Joe Slyman, of Henderson, said.
The sixth inning is where the team's streak came to a halt. In the end, the 51s fell to the Bees, 9-6.
But the night wasn’t over for spectators as the stadium lights dimmed and fans cheered for what was the main event for some in attendance. The fireworks display ended the night with patriotic tunes.
Dads hoisted their kids on their shoulders while others tilted their heads to the sky to watch the American tradition.