They're back! In today's Ballpark Notes, the Casper Ghosts announce front-office promotions, the Fort Wayne TinCaps and Quad Cities River Bandits snare more honors, and indy stalwart Hal Lanier lands in the Frontier League.
They're back! In today's Ballpark Notes, the Casper Ghosts announce front-office promotions, the Fort Wayne TinCaps and Quad Cities River Bandits snares more honors, and indy stalwart Hal Lanier lands in the Frontier League.
The Casper Ghosts (rookie; Pioneer League) announced front-office promotions for several key staff members. Chris Maxwell has been promoted to the position of assistant general manager and Phil Choler has been named the team’s new director of operations.
Maxwell will be beginning his third season with the club and his sixth season in professional baseball. Maxwell began as a greeter and visiting clubhouse manager with the Lakewood Blue Claws (Low Class A; Sally League) before working for the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays (Low Class A; Midwest League) and the Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League). Chris will continue his game day duties as the team's PA announcer.
Choler will begin his second season with the Ghosts as well as his second in professional baseball. He previously spent one summer interning with the Green Bay Bullfrogs (summer collegiate; Northwoods League). Choler will oversee stadium operations, ticketing, as well as the teams food service operations. He is a graduate of Ball State University.
Following a season in which the Fort Wayne TinCaps’ players won a variety of awards, the team’s front office collected its share of the hardware Thursday. The TinCaps won the Midwest League President’s Trophy and team president Mike Nutter was named the Midwest League Executive of the Year.
The John H. Johnson President’s Trophy is awarded to the club which best exemplifies the standards of the complete baseball franchise, such as financial success of operation, contributions to baseball in the community and baseball industry, and long-term franchise stability.
“We’ve come a long way over the last year,” Nutter said. “Moving into a first-class ballpark gave us the chance to entertain our fans in new and exciting ways. On the field, the team exceeded all expectations and won our first championship. I thank our fans, who are the best in the country. I also thank our front-office team which made things run smoothly and put on a fantastic show every night at Parkview Field.”
The TinCaps shattered the franchise attendance record this year, drawing 378,529 fans to Parkview Field during the regular season. During the TinCaps’ playoff run, 25,789 more came through the turnstiles for a season total of 404,318. Fort Wayne also set franchise records for individual-game attendance (8,353 on July 19th) and playoff-game attendance (6,269 on September 16th).
On the field, the TinCaps won 101 games, tying a league record, on their way to the franchise’s first-ever Midwest League championship. The franchise’s in-game entertainment improved dramatically with the move to Parkview Field. A new video board and new promotions such as the “Bad Apple Dancers” kept fans involved more than ever before.
For the second consecutive season, the Midwest League has honored Stefanie Brown, the Quad Cities River Bandits’ Assistant General Manager, as the Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year.
Brown joined the River Bandits during the ownership change following the 2007 season and has been a crucial figure in the team’s resurgence over the past two seasons. After a successful 2008 campaign in which she was named the Co-Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year, Brown was promoted to Assistant General Manager for the 2009 season and has earned solo honors this year.
“The entire River Bandits organization is extremely proud of Stefanie and what she has accomplished,” said team owner Dave Heller. “There is no question that she is one of the most hard-working, talented and productive people in all of baseball – regardless of gender. She has meant a great deal to our organization since the day she arrived, and this honor is extremely well deserved.”
During Brown’s two seasons with the organization, the River Bandits have seen total attendance increase by 59 percent and per-game attendance rise by 64 percent -– culminating in 2009 with a total attendance of 236,401 and an average of 3,694, the highest such figures since 1995. Brown’s expanded role in 2009 included the additional responsibilities of overseeing the entire Suite Level, managing special events and overseeing the team’s retail operation. All three areas saw significant growth, with the game-day merchandise operation doubling its income from 2008 and Brown’s planning and execution of the well-documented Bandit Wedding that hosted 660 people.
“I am truly honored to accept this award,” said Brown. “It is one thing to work hard and try to improve the team every day, but for my peers around the league to acknowledge my work is really flattering. These past two years with the River Bandits have been a lot of fun, and everybody on our staff takes a lot of pride in what we’ve been able to accomplish.”
After winning Midwest League honors, Brown is now a candidate for the national Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year Award. The national winner will be announced at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Indianapolis from December 6-9.
Hal Lanier is the new manager of the Normal CornBelters (independent; Frontier League), while longtime scout Nick Belmonte is the team's director of player personnel. Lanier, whose managing experience includes a stint with the Houston Astros, has spent recent years in the indy ranks with the likes of the Winnipeg Goldeyes (independent; Northern League) and Sussex SkyHawks (independent; Can-Am Association).
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