Another year, another award for Derek Sharrer of the Saint Paul Saints, who has been named the American Association Executive of the Year. Sharrer, the executive vice president/general manager of the Saints, has now won the award in back-to-back seasons.
Sharrer, in his 13th season as the General Manager of the Saints, continues to lead the organization to record highs in nearly every area. He didn’t let the front office rest on its laurels from year one and pushed the Saints to new heights on both the business and entertainment side.
The Saints had their first ever rainout at CHS Field, but despite having one fewer opening the club drew more fans in 2016 than in their inaugural season in Lowertown. As a matter of fact, the Saints broke the record in their second to last home game. Overall the Saints drew 413,482 over 49 dates, an average of 8,438, a more than 2% increase in overall attendance and a more than 4% increase in average attendance. The Saints drew more than the 7,210 capacity in 47 of 49 home games and drew a franchise record 10,443 on May 29. There were 8,000 or more fans at 37 of 49 games and more than 9,000 on 10 occasions.
Of the more than 350 teams in minor league baseball (affiliated and independent league) only 24 drew more fans this season than the Saints. All of the teams that outdrew the Saints are in affiliated ball and have had at least 15 more openings than the Saints. Only six teams have averaged more than the 8,457 fans the Saints attracted this season, with all of them operating at the Triple-A level. The Saints 117% capacity was tops in all of minor league baseball.
“It’s humbling to be recognized by your peers in this way and an honor that I truly appreciate,” said Sharrer. “That said, I’m so very fortunate to work for, and with, an amazing group of people who deserve most, if not all, of the credit. From an ownership group who continually puts us in position to succeed, to a staff with the most dedicated, creative, and talented people in the business, to a community which continues to support and receive us so well, St. Paul is a wonderful place to work.”
The Saints put together a highly successful American Association All-Star Game with two days worth of events, culminating in the game on August 2. All-Star Monday, on August 1, allowed the players and executives to take a tour of U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings brand new home. At CHS Field that night celebrity, music and power were on display. The All-Star Monday festivities kicked off with a celebrity softball game with local media members, Wild players and former Saints players. The Chris Hawkey band rocked out on stage and then the big event for the All-Stars took place: The Home Run Derby. The festivities concluded with an hour show by Minnesota’s own Soul Asylum.
More than 8,000 fans packed CHS Field for the American Association All-Star Game, televised on Fox Sports North Plus, with approximately 28 scouts in attendance. The game, and two-day celebration, was widely praised by players and executives for the professional and fun manner in which the Saints handled the league’s biggest event.
“Derek has been the inspirational leader of our front office for the past 13 years and has guided the Saints’ organization to the point at which we are recognized, not only for our accomplishments as a member of the American Association, but as one of the pre-eminent franchises in all of Minor League Baseball. Our entire organization joins me in both thanking Derek for his leadership, and congratulating him on this well-deserved recognition,” said Saints’ Chairman and principal owner, Marv Goldklang.
The Saints once again provided fans with entertainment that gained local and national attention. From the very emotional Purple Game, honoring the passing of Prince, to setting a Guinness Book of World Record for most people doing squats at one event, with Squat-A-Lot-Athon, to national attention with the very hilarious Unwritten Rulebook, the Saints continued to amuse their fans with fun.
CHS Field continued to be the talk of St. Paul and the league. The ballpark was used for more than just Saints games. The State High School Baseball Tournament took place at the ballpark and each St. Paul school played a free regular season game at CHS Field. In addition there were festivals, companies hosted events in the Securian Club and on the field and wedding receptions and Bar Mitzvah’s were held at the award-winning ballpark.
This is the second time Sharrer has won the American Association Executive of the Year Award and the third time in his career, winning a similar honor when he was General Manager of the Fort Myers Miracle in 1998.