In choosinG the winners of the Ballpark Digest Awards, we’re always cognizant of a feel-good story. Under the Editor’s Choice Award category, we have two organizations that really typify why we love the game: MiLB Charities and the Texas League.
The first award goes to Minor League Baseball as a whole for the establishment of MilB Charities. Baseball, ultimately, is a community endeavor, whether it’s a rookie-league team in Montana or a Class AAA team in Pennsylvania; the best teams become an integral part of their hometowns and touch the lives of tens and hundreds of thousands annually. The long-overdue establishment of MiLB Charities had a noteworthy initial goal: assist Iowa communities hard hit by flooding. Funds raised by baseball fans all across the country were donated to the cities of Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Des Moines. Charities in all four cities received checks for $25,000. In announcing the aid, MiLB Pat O’Conner referred to the cities as being part of baseball’s extended family — and MiLB Charities is a perfect way for MilB to help out baseball’s extended family when needed.
“Minor League Baseball would like to accept the Editor’s Choice Award on behalf of our charitable partner,” said MiLB’s Steve Densa. “MiLB Charities’ initial act was to assist the victims of the extraordinary floods that occurred throughout the Midwest in 2008. With help from our leagues and clubs, MiLB Charities was able to assist the Minor League Baseball communities of Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Des Moines, Iowa. We appreciate the recognition and hope that this selection inspires others to contribute to MiLB Charities.”
The other recipient of the Editor’s Choice Award goes to the Class AA Texas League. To say the league had a successful 2008 season is an understatement. Not only did the Texas League reach 3 million in attendance for the first time in history, all eight teams were up in total attendance in 2008 — the first time since attendance records have been kept, according to league president Tom Kayser. The addition of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals helped push up that total attendance figure, but the biggest factors were continued excellence in Frisco, Springfield, Tulsa, Corpus Christi and Arkansas, as well as large attendance gains in San Antonio and Midland.