Nice honor for an organization on the rise: The Tennessee Smokies were awarded the Class AA Southern League’s 2014 Don Mincher Organization of the Year Award, as voted on by the league’s general managers.
The franchise is also the circuit’s nomination for Minor League Baseball’s John H. Johnson President’s Award, which the Smokies also won in 2011.
The league’s Organization of the Year award is named after the late Don Mincher, who served as the Southern League’s President for 12 years from 2000 through 2011. It is awarded following the completion of each season to the Southern League club demonstrated as the circuit’s most complete baseball franchise.
“It is an honor to be selected by our peers to receive the 2014 Don Mincher Organization of the Year Award,” said Team President Doug Kirchhofer. “This award is a testament to the vision and support of our new owners Randy and Jenny Boyd, as well as the hard work and dedication of our full-time and part-time employees.”
“It’s great to see the hard work of our fantastic staff be recognized,” added Smokies Owner Randy Boyd. “This would not have been possible without them, the support of our local city and county government, and some of the best baseball fans in the country.”
In a banner year under the first full season of new team owners Randy and Jenny Boyd, the Smokies set new franchise records for total and average attendance in a single season, while improving an already strong fan experience. The team welcomed a total of 283,038 guests into Smokies Stadium this season in 69 openings, besting the previous top mark of 268,033 set in 2002, and also saw a 15% increase in attendance from last season.
In addition, the Smokies opened a new exciting premium seating area “Calhoun’s At The Yard,” combining a unique view with an East Tennessee barbeque flair in Calhoun’s, while also enhancing the club’s suite level and expanding Homer the Hound’s Kids Play Area. The club also introduced successful new daily promotions such as Tail Waggin’ Tuesday and All-You-Can-Eat Wednesday.
Midway through the season, Tennessee and its parent club, the Chicago Cubs also agreed to an extension of their player development contract, lengthening the two teams’ partnership through the 2018 season. At the end of that agreement, the Smokies will have been affiliated with the Cubs for 12 seasons, which would mark the second-longest such stretch in franchise history. Tennessee was affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays for 23 seasons between 1980 through 2002.
The Smokies previously were honored by the Southern League with the 2011 Organization of the Year, and would subsequently be selected as the winner of Minor League Baseball’s John H. Johnson President’s Award, given to the top Minor League Baseball franchise in a pool of 160 possible clubs. Tennessee is the only Southern League franchise to have won Minor League Baseball’s top honor dating back to 1974.
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