The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB), the most innovative league in baseball, today announced a number of special recognitions for ALPB team accomplishments both on and off the field. The results were based on votes from club managers and executives.
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs President and GM Patrick Day has been honored as the 2015 Atlantic League Executive of the Year. Day, 40, was promoted to President of the Blue Crabs in June, 2015. Among numerous accomplishments during the past year, he led a partnership with the Charles County Branch of the NAACP aimed at engaging the region’s youth population with programs and other initiatives at Regency Furniture Stadium. During the season, Ballpark Digest dubbed the ballpark, "A Southern Maryland Gem."
“In a league that has the finest executives in all of baseball, we are honored that Pat Day has been selected as the 2015 Executive of the Year,” said Chairman Peter Kirk of Blue Crabs, the reigning Freedom Division Champions. “Pat’s dedication and leadership have made him a respected member of our Southern Maryland community and his results speak for themselves.”
The Lancaster Barnstormers, with a special citation to Tony DeMarco, Vice President of Fan Experience, earned the Ken Shepard Award for Promotional Excellence for the creation of a series of bobblehead giveaways recognizing Lancaster Community’s significant citizens. These included professional golfer Jim Furyk, U.S. Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir, and other historic local figures. The Barnstormers’ promotional series garnered national media attention in outlets such NBC Sports and Ballpark Digest.
“The Creative Leadership at every Atlantic League organization is extraordinary; some of the brightest minds in professional sports work in our league," said DeMarco. "On behalf of the Barnstormers, I am deeply honored to be given the Ken Shepard Award. Ken’s life work was to bring the magic of minor league baseball to the community. I am one of many who have taken the baton from Ken. I pledge to continue his mission.”
In addition, the Barnstormers received the league’s Community Service Award. The club partnered with Engle Printing & Publishing Company to host 15 school spirit nights while reaching thousands of students, celebrating academic success and community goodwill this season. In addition, the Barnstormers featured former Major Leaguers, including Doc Gooden, Darren Daulton, and Bobby Richardson to assist with community benefit programs throughout the year. Club mascot Cylo was actively involved in engaging fans in community events throughout the year, such as National Night Out.
"Our ballpark is the town hall; we consider it our responsibility to involve the community at the highest level of service,” said Rob Liss, Barnstormers Partner. “In doing so, we make connections that last a lifetime. People in Lancaster love the feeling of being a part of community; when we say, ‘Your Lancaster Barnstormers,’ we sincerely hope that everyone feels like they are a part of the team."
“The goal has been to make the Barnstormers and Clipper Magazine Stadium a part of the fabric of this community,” said Barnstormers General Manager Kristen Simon. “That means involvement in whatever is taking place, having our players be positive role models, and our operation giving back wherever we can.”
The Bridgeport Bluefish received Promotion of the Year for their efforts in displaying high-quality hospitality and an innovative approach to the 2015 Atlantic League All-Star Game. The Bluefish kicked off the All-Star celebration with a block party in downtown Bridgeport featuring live music, All-Star players, and team mascots. Wrestling legend Ric Flair hosted the All-Star Game, which featured the introduction of the Rawlings red-and-blue-stitched baseball into official ALPB play. The first pitch thrown during the 2015 Atlantic League All-Star Game will be displayed at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, next month as part of the museum's “This Year in Baseball” exhibit. The re-introduction of the red-white-and-blue baseballs by a professional league for the first time since 1934 received national attention, including Sporting News, SB Nation, and the New York Post.
“The Bluefish staff and I had so much fun planning and executing this series of All-Star events,” says Bluefish General Manager Jamie Toole. “It was an honor to host the All-Star Game, and we wanted to make those three days an experience that the All-Stars and their families, as well as fans of the Atlantic League, would never forget.”
The Sugar Land Skeeters were voted the Top Grounds Crew for their tremendous efforts at Constellation Field, which hosted a number events including Houston Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt’s Charity Softball Game, as well as 70 home games this year. Three year old Constellation Field made the Top 8 in Ballpark Digest’s poll for the best Independent Ballpark in North America.
“We had scores of extra activities at the ballpark and a record amount of rainfall received this year,” said Skeeters Head Groundskeeper Brad Detmore upon receiving the honor. “The entire grounds crew deserves credit for all the hard work they put in. We certainly couldn’t do it without them. They are dedicated to their work.”
This year, Ballpark Digest, the industry leader in ballpark news, crowned TD Bank Ballpark, home of the Somerset Patriots as the best Independent Minor League baseball facility in North America. ALPB club executives took notice, and in a unanimous vote, TD Bank Ballpark was named as the Atlantic League's Ballpark of the Year.
"We are proud that our home, TD Bank Ballpark, received these tremendous honors this season,” said Patriots GM Patrick McVerry. “The ballpark showcases the hard work of our front office staff, tireless grounds crew, and the vision of our ownership, and the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders to bring baseball to Bridgewater. Most of all, this award is a reflection of the best fans in all of minor league baseball.”
Long Island Ducks team mascot QuackerJack was named Mascot of the Year for his exceptional contributions to team marketing and community efforts with fans. He made several appearances at schools and other community events throughout the season, embodying the charismatic spirit of the league.
"QuackerJack doesn't speak, but when we told him about this award, he got quite emotional," said Ducks President/GM Michael Pfaff. "There can be but one first... and for QuackerJack to be the first-ever winner of this prestigious award is, in a word, Spec-Quackular."
About The Atlantic League
The Atlantic League is the most innovative league in professional baseball, offers the highest level of minor league baseball playing skills, and is a player gateway to Major League Baseball. Its mission is to bring a high level of professional baseball and affordable family entertainment to select communities not presently being served by Major League or Minor League teams. ALPB players are highly experienced professionals, having progressed through professional baseball’s developmental levels (A, AA, AAA). Over 40% of all Atlantic League players have Major League service time. Like MLB, Atlantic League clubs pay their players to win baseball games, not to apprentice as in baseball’s developmental levels. The following teams play in the Atlantic League: Bridgeport Bluefish, Camden Riversharks, Lancaster Barnstormers, Long Island Ducks, Somerset Patriots, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, Sugar Land Skeeters and York Revolution.