West Fargo woman becomes 4 millionth fan in RedHawks franchise history

FARGO--Michelle Alm had no idea she would become part of Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks baseball lore Wednesday evening when she came through main entrance at Newman Outdoor Field.
Michelle Alm becomes the 4 millionth fan to attend a RedHawks game and recieves a ballon in the shape of the number "4" from Hawkeye and Karl Hoium, the assistant general manager of the Redhawks on Wednesday, July 4, 2018, at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo. Erin Bormett / The Forum

FARGO-Michelle Alm had no idea she would become part of Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks baseball lore Wednesday evening when she came through main entrance at Newman Outdoor Field.

Alm didn't know what to think as a few confetti poppers went off soon after she passed through gates on the Fourth of July.

"I had no idea whatsoever," said Alm, from West Fargo. "I was just looking around like what's happening."

Alm was celebrated as the 4 millionth fan in the history of the team, which started play in 1996, before F-M's American Association game against the St. Paul Saints that was played before a sellout crowd of 4,505 fans.

The Saints scored six runs in the first three innings to fuel an 8-5 victory. St. Paul outfielder Burt Reynolds sparked the early scoring with a three-run home run in the first inning.

The RedHawks (21-22) have lost two consecutive games. Tim Colwell went 3-for-4 for F-M against the Saints, including three doubles. Colwell, who is batting .326 this season, added an RBI and also scored two runs.

With a big smile on her face, Alm let out a big laugh after she found out she was the landmark spectator.

"It was like 'Oh my goodness, that is crazy.' They have an incredible following. It's very impressive," said Alm, who was wearing a red RedHawks jersey. "It's a very cool thing. I think it's great that this community can support a sports program like this, and have it be successful for this length of time."

The RedHawks reached 4 million fans in their 23rd season. Alm said she's been coming to games since F-M's inaugural season. She usually gets to at least a half dozen games per summer. The RedHawks previously reached 3 million fans during the 2012 season.

"It's just incredible the amount of people that come through the facility for a small, little city of Fargo-Moorhead," said Brad Thom, the team's president and chief operating officer. "It's fantastic."

Alm came to the Fourth of July game with a group of 20 friends and family that included her parents, her sister, three children and a grandchild. She said the RedHawks game, which also had postgame fireworks, was a perfect way to cap the holiday.

"That is the pure definition of Americana," Alm said. "We had a barbeque with friends and family earlier in the day, and decided for all 20 of us to come this evening and enjoy the game. ... What else could top this? Seriously."

Even for a baseball veteran like RedHawks manager Michael Schlact, a Fourth of July baseball game has a different energy.

"Being on this side of the game, it's a blessing," Schlact said. "I think stadiums all over the country are more full today and there's a different buzz in the stadium. Whenever there's a different buzz from the crowd it gets the adrenaline going with the guys a lot more."

Alm received two season tickets for 2019 as part of her prize package for being the 4 millionth fan. She also got to sit in the "best seats in the house" during the game.

"I'm really excited for her," said Jeanne Alm, Michelle's mother. "I think it's great. ... I just thought she was really lucky. She's not usually lucky. We play Bingo, she never wins."