As extensions of their roles in the community, many Minor League Baseball teams go above and beyond with their charitable efforts. Charities are a major part of the MiLB landscape, and in 2016 it was evident that the Omaha Storm Chasers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) made a major impact in their community. This organization is receiving Ballpark Digest’s 2016 Charity Award.
The Storm Chasers were a finalist for this award last year, and managed to capture the honor in 2016 because of their broad outreach in the Omaha Metro area. In total, the Storm Chasers raised a franchise record $768,695 for local charities, which topped their previous record by more than $82,000.
“In a general sense, Minor League Baseball is built on community and providing value to fans,” said Storm Chasers president and general manager Martie Cordaro. “If we’re providing good, quality entertainment, we should be giving back to the community as well. It’s great to see the staff and the organization as a whole buy into that.”
During the season, the Storm Chasers rely on both the participation of the team’s front office staff as well as the players. Two examples Cordaro pointed to this year were the “Let’s Go Miles” jersey auction and a bowling event that benefitted the Down Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands.
To assist Miles Mortenson—son of Storm Chasers pitcher Clayton Mortenson—in his fight against Nueroblastoma, the Storm Chasers took the field in commemorative jerseys as part of Superhero Night on June 24. In conjunction with the Brian Duensing Foundation, the Storm Chasers raised $7,382.
On May 29, 10 Storm Chasers players bowled with 12 different families from the Down Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands. Pulling off these efforts required cooperation from the players and the Kansas City Royals, the Storm Chasers’ parent club. Cordaro said that the Royals have always been more than willing to help.
“Being one of the longest Triple-A affiliates [in baseball] has given us an opportunity to develop a relationship with them,” he said. “We’ve been with them for 48 years. I’ve been here 10 of those 48 years, and they’re great partners. It’s not an accident that they won the World Series on talent alone, but they have drafted and developed quality people as well.”
Cordaro said that the team’s community relations department plays a key role in arranging events and appearances on a year-round basis. Furthermore, front office members are strongly encouraged to volunteer during their personal time.
“It’s not a mandate, but it might as well be,” Cordaro said. “I tell our staff every fall, I don’t care what you want to be a part of but be a part of something. Our staff has bought into that. It’s a definite team approach, and I’m really proud of what they’re able to accomplish.”
The Storm Chasers, as they do every year, are looking for ways to expand and improve upon their charitable efforts. Cardaro, however, was pleased with the strides they took this year. “I’m humbled. There are 165 minor league clubs, and to be the one that is selected speaks a lot about what we do as an organization. We do it all for the community.”
Images courtesy Omaha Storm Chasers.
Previous 2016 Award Winners:
Promotion of the Year: My Big Fat Fresno Wedding Show
Best New Logo/Branding: Columbia Fireflies
Best Ballpark Renovation (Over $10 Million): The Outfield Apartments
Best Ballpark Improvement (Over $1 Million): The Choctaw Lazy River
Best Ballpark Improvement (Under $1 Million): The Perch
Broadcaster of the Year: Sean Aronson, St. Paul Saints
Ballpark of the Year: Spirit Communications Park