Flying Squirrels wrap up season with big crowds and a record number of homers

9/23/2021, 6 p.m.
The Richmond Flying Squirrels 2021 season may be best remembered for home crowds and home runs.
David Villar

The Richmond Flying Squirrels 2021 season may be best remembered for home crowds and home runs.

Following a season of inactivity due to COVID- 19 in 2020, Squirrels fans proved they hadn’t forgotten their way to The Diamond at 3001 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd.

A total of 275,169 spectators came through the turnstiles for 57 dates. The 4,828 per-game average was second only to the Hartford Yard Goats of Connecticut among AA Northeast League affiliates.

The average attendance would have been significantly higher if not for COVID-related restrictions during the first two home series in the spring.

Folks in the crowd were treated to a team record 127 homers (home and away included), with third baseman David Villar pacing the slugfest with a franchise record 20.

The previous individual mark of 18 was shared by Jarrett Parker in 2013 and Mario Lisson in 2014. The previous team record of 109 was set in 2013.

Villar was named Most Valuable Player, while reliever Ronnie Williams won the vote for Most Valuable Pitcher.

Williams also received the Community Service Award for attending all the Squirrels’ youth instructional camps. Williams was called up to AAA Sacramento late in the season.

Down the stretch, the team’s most effective starting pitcher was Akeel Morris, who fanned 10 over five innings in the Flying Squirrels’ season finale 3-1 victory at Erie, Pa., against the SeaWolves. That enabled the Flying Squirrels to finish 57-56, the first time above .500 since 2015.

Morris, the right-handed native of the Virgin Islands, was brilliant in his last seven starts, all Squirrels victories. During that run, he struck out 48 batters in 40.2 innings while allowing only six earned runs and 27 hits.

The Squirrels will continue to be the San Francisco Gi- ants’ AA farm club for the foreseeable future.

Richmond will open the 2022 season April 8 at Bowie, Md., and commence the home campaign April 12 against Altoona, Pa.