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It’s honors season in the minors

Here's a look at some of the awards doled out by various minor leagues at the ends of their seasons.

Here's a look at some of the awards doled out by various minor leagues at the ends of their seasons.

The Carolina League has announced that Kinston’s Head Groundskeeper Stephen Watson and Myrtle Beach Groundskeeper Chris Ball are the League’s Sports Turf Managers of the Year. This is the first time there has been a tie for the award that honors the Carolina League’s best playing surface. Watson brings the award back to the K-Tribe for the first time since the 2005 season.

“It certainly would not have been possible without my assistant Zach VanVorhees and my wonderful crew,” says Watson. “The award makes all of those hot, long days; all of those tarp pulls worth it.”

Behind the tarp pulling strategy and meteorological skills of Watson, there was not a rainout at Historic Grainger Stadium this season during one of the rainiest summers ever on the east coast. Kinston is the only team to stay dry in the Carolina League this year. This is the first time a Carolina League team has completed the season without a rainout since Wilmington did it in the 1999 season.

“Stephen and his crew have worked very hard this year and deserved to be recognized,” says K-Tribe General Manager Shari Massengill. “Late nights and long weekends of keeping an eye to the sky, even when the team was out of town, helped us get through the year without a rainout. Watson went above and beyond to make our diamond sparkle at Historic Grainger Stadium.”

Portland Sea Dogs radio broadcaster Mike Antonellis has been named the Eastern League Broadcaster of the Year. The selection was made through a survey of Eastern League broadcasters and media relations directors. This is the first season that the survey has been conducted. In the same survey, the Portland Sea Dogs’ interns were ranked the best in the Eastern League.

Antonellis is completing his fourth season as the “Voice of the Sea Dogs.” He first entered the Eastern League in 2004 as the play-by-play broadcaster for the Erie SeaWolves. Prior to working in Erie, Mike served as the play-by-play announcer for the Kane County Cougars (2002-2003), Utica Blue Sox (2001), Syracuse Skychiefs (2001), and the Prince William Cannons (1997-2000). During his travels, Antonellis has also delivered play-by-play for college football and basketball, as well as Syracuse Crunch Hockey (AHL). The 36 year-old is originally from Ashland, Massachusetts, he now makes his home in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. In addition to his “Broadcaster of the Year” honors, Antonellis finished second in the “Best Voice” category to Altoona’s Ron Potesta.

New Hampshire radio broadcaster Mike Murphy finished second in the “Broadcaster of the Year” honors, while Jeff Dooley from New Britain finished third in the voting. Sea Dogs radio intern Aaron Goldsmith finished second in the “Best #2 Radio Broadcaster” category.

The Portland Sea Dogs had ten interns in 2009 that significantly contributed to the success of the Portland Sea Dogs’ organization. The 2009 Sea Dogs’ intern crew was comprised of Chris Baez (promotions/stadium operations), Tom Besse (tickets), Kelly Emerson (merchandise), Ryan Erickson (media relations), Aaron Goldsmith (broadcasting), Amy Hebert (tickets), Jimmy Herter (grounds crew), Tim Miller (grounds crew), Scott Nevers (clubhouse) and Bill Rankin (group sales). The Altoona Curve interns finished second in the voting, while the Binghamton Mets and Trenton Thunder tied for third.

In the same survey, the Sea Dogs were also ranked first for having the “Best Hotel Amenities” for visiting teams in the Eastern League. The Sea Dogs use the Wyndham Hotel in South Portland, Maine as the visiting team hotel. The Sea Dogs also ranked fourth in the league for “Best Stat Pack/ Games Notes." The city of Portland was ranked second for “Best Post-Game Night Life.”

South Atlantic League President Eric Krupa announced the recipients of the 2009 South Atlantic League Outstanding Achievement Awards. All 16 teams, along with the umpires, participated in the voting for these awards.

Club Merit Award: The Lakewood BlueClaws have been selected as the winner of this prestigious award, which is awarded for outstanding overall club operations.

Excellence in Marketing Award: The Charleston RiverDogs were selected to be the inaugural recipients of this award to recognize outstanding marketing and promotions.

General Manager of the Year: Geoff Brown of the Lakewood BlueClaws has been selected by his peers as the winner of the General Manager of the Year award.

Female Executive of the Year: Katie Dannemiller of the Greensboro Grasshoppers was selected as the Female Executive of the Year.

Media Relations Director of the Year: Eric Jarinko of the Greenville Drive has been selected as the Media Relations Director of the Year.

Sales Executive of the Year: Joel Pagliaro of the Hagerstown Suns was selected as the Sales Executive of the Year.

Community Relations Director of the Year: Harold Craw of the Charleston RiverDogs was selected as the Community Relations Director of the Year.

Sports Turf Manager of the Year: Mike Williams of the Charleston RiverDogs was named the 2009 Sports Turf Manager of the Year in the South Atlantic League.

Best Playing Field Award: Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, home of the Charleston RiverDogs, was also awarded the 2009 Best Playing Field Award.

Athletic Trainer of the Year Award: Aaron Scott of the Delmarva Shorebirds has been selected as the 2009 South Atlantic League Athletic Trainer of the Year by his peers in the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS). This is the third year in a row that Delmarva’s trainer has been selected for this honor, with Patrick Wesley having won the honor on 2007 and 2008.

Bat Person of the Year Award: Jeremy Woody from the Asheville Tourists was selected as the Bat Person of the Year.

Visiting Clubhouse Manager of the Year Award: Jeff Morris from the Asheville Tourists was selected as the inaugural winner of the Visiting Clubhouse Manager of the Year Award.

Dan Jennings and the Dow Diamond grounds crew have been selected as recipients of the 2009 Midwest League Sports Turf Manager and Grounds Crew of the Year.

A press release issued by the league recognized Jennings and his crew “for their professionalism in providing a first-rate playing surface at Dow Diamond, making them a respected leader in the Sports Turf industry.” The award was based “on the quality of playing surface, playability and texture of infield skin, preparation of field, condition of infield and outfield turf, and quality of pitching mounds, home plate, and bullpens.”

This is the second field of the year award for Dow Diamond since the facility opened in 2007. In 2007, Dow Diamond received the same award. That year the crew was headed by Matt McQuaid, who now serves as the Dow Diamond Director of Facilities and Operations, which oversees the entire facility, including the grounds. Jennings is in his first year as the Loons’ grounds crew supervisor after working with the Loons’ grounds crew as an intern in 2008.

“This is a tremendous honor for everyone involved in the daily preparation and operation of our facility,” said Loons President and GM Paul Barbeau. “Our crew takes tremendous pride in the upkeep of Dow Diamond and I’m pleased that their efforts have been recognized again.”

Reno Aces Grounds Manager Eric Blanton has been named 2009 Pacific Coast League Turf Manager of the Year, the league office announced.

Blanton and his grounds crew were the driving force behind preparing the Aces Ballpark playing surface for its inaugural season of Triple-A Baseball. The award is voted on by field managers of each Pacific Coast League club. Criteria for the annual award include professionalism of the grounds crew, pre-game field set-up and overall playing surface preparation.

“It is a great honor to receive this award,” Blanton said. “My crew—both day and night staff—deserve much of the credit, as I would not have been able to maintain at such a high level without their hard work and dedication.”

Assisting Blanton in the day-to-day maintenance of the playing surface, the Aces Ballpark grounds crew includes Assistant Grounds Manager Mike Josselyn and Groundskeeper Cubby Rincon. The gameday staff includes Mike Bosco, Trevor Bradshaw, Ryan Garrett, Rob Hastings, Dan Kastens, Mike Kinnaman, Jason Olson and Beau Walker.

The Southern League announced the selection of Ed Attalla of the Jacksonville Suns as the Groundskeeper of the Year, as selected by the league’s field managers and umpires.  

The 2009 honor marks the fifth time Attalla has been selected as Groundskeeper of the Year for the Southern League.  He joined the Suns in 2003 and won the award in each of his first four seasons with the team (2003-2006), and was also named Field Turf Manager of the Year for all of Double-A Baseball in 2003.  

“Ed has done a super job ever since the Baseball Grounds opened,” said Suns President & General Manager Peter Bragan, Jr.  “Even with all the rain this year, he kept the field in great condition and I’m glad to see his work recognized.”

United League Baseball’s Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings announced today that Director of Communications Jonah Goldberg has been named ULB broadcaster and communications executive of the year, as voted on by the field managers and United League officials.

“It’s an honor to receive this award. It really shows what someone can accomplish with hard work. When [WhiteWings field manager] Eddie [Dennis] told me I had won the award, I couldn’t stop smiling. I know I have grown a lot as both a broadcaster and a media relations director since I first got here fresh out of school in May 2007. I can’t thank the WhiteWings enough for the opportunity and the city of Harlingen’s first-rate fans for their never-ending support,” Goldberg said.

Goldberg has spent three seasons as “the Voice of the WhiteWings.” He now has 653 broadcasts on his resume, including 285 baseball games, 254 of which have been with the WhiteWings.

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