As the calendar turns to the month of September, the 2022 Coastal Plains League season is officially in the rear-view mirror for the Macon Bacon; the gates at historic Luther Williams Field are closed to the public, the sound of baseballs being struck by wood bats eludes the grounds and the smell of bacon no longer fills the air.
Team president Brandon Raphael was given the opportunity to reflect upon the Bacon’s 2022 season; he believes the year was one of success which extended beyond the game itself.
“If you think about it, a lot of sports organizations, the barometer of whether or not they’re successful on the field is if they win a championship,” Raphael said. “Yes, it’s great to win and that’s what we want; the most important thing making sure that our student athletes have the best experience when they’re here.”
According to the now fifth-year president, the organization remains committed to making the athletes’ time in Macon memorable.
“They stay with host families,” Raphael said. “Making sure that they’re comfortable, making sure that we’re taking care of them from an overall perspective of their health and their welfare; when they are on the field, we put a good team together. That’s what I ask our coach to do.”
In the eyes of the organization, player happiness is the ultimate tell-tale in regards to the team’s trajectory.
“More importantly, the barometer is seeing the smile on their faces,” Raphael said. “Seeing how they hung out for hours after the last game saying goodbye to each other and playing on the wiffle ball field, it’s kids being kids and that’s what the game of baseball is all about.”
Although player-experience remains priority one, Raphael was sure to tip his cap to head coach Kevin Soine, staff and roster for their continued success on the field.
“Obviously winning helps,” Raphael said. “To say that we’ve made the playoffs three of our first five years, I think that’s a great accomplishment for our coaching staff and to our players.”
Outside the realm of players, coaches and host families, the Bacon’s president made a point to recognize the instrumental role played by the fans.
“We’re in the memory making business,” Raphael said. “To see a record-breaking 70,000 fans come through the gates of Luther Williams Field, as an organization, we couldn’t be more proud of our middle Georgia community and beyond.”
Raphael’s message regarding community and fan support was simple: the Bacon exist because of their fans.
“Everything we do is for them,” Raphael said. “To know that they came out in record numbers this year, cheered loud, got involved in our community initiatives, to see those sold-out crowds and the fun that they had, that’s why we do what we do.”
While the support of middle Georgia is imperative to the organization’s success, Raphael noted that the reach of the Bacon far exceeds just the Macon area.
“We have the longest off-season in all of sports,” Raphael said. “Everything we do from August until May is to give our fans a great experience when they do come here; it’s not just the ones that come to our games, they’re all over the country and all over the world.”
With the off-season now upon them, Raphael and the rest of the Macon Bacon organization will continue to generate new and exciting ways to take the team, and its community, to new heights in 2023.
By: Harrison Tarr