The Eastern League has unveiled its nominees for Minor League Baseball‘s annual awards. Those awards include the Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year Award, the Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award, the John Henry Moss Community Service Award, the Larry MacPhail Award, and the John H. Johnson President’s Award. The winners of these awards are selected by Minor League Baseball and will be honored at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida.
The Richmond Flying Squirrels are the Eastern League nominee for the John H. Johnson President’s Award, which is used to honor a “complete” baseball franchise that has demonstrated franchise stability while making significant contributions to its community, its league, and to the baseball industry. Under the guidance of the ownership group led by managing partner Lou DiBella, Chief Executive Chuck Domino, and Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Todd “Parney” Parnell, the Flying Squirrels have become one of the top organizations in all of Minor League Baseball. The Flying Squirrels welcomed a total of 386,185 fans to The Diamond in 64 openings during the 2017 season, good for an average attendance of 6,034 fans per game, which ranked second in the Eastern League. Since their inception in 2010, the Flying Squirrels have ranked first or second in the league in average attendance every season, including four seasons in which they have led the league in both average and total attendance. The franchise has also averaged more than 6,000 fans per game in seven of their eight seasons. The fans keep flocking to the ballpark in Richmond thanks to the fun, family friendly atmosphere the Flying Squirrels have created at The Diamond with a jam packed promotional schedule that provides something new for fans every day during the season. The success of the franchise can also be tied to the relationship the Flying Squirrels have created with their community. Since day one the Flying Squirrels have had a strong presence in the city of Richmond and have made giving back to their community a top priority. In 2017 alone the Flying Squirrels raised more than $330,000 in donations and gifts in kind for over 900 different organizations. That was in addition to team executives, players, coaches, and mascot making over 600 appearances within the community.
The Eastern League nominee for the Larry MacPhail Award, which is given to a club in Minor League Baseball that has demonstrated outstanding and creative marketing and promotional efforts, is the Erie SeaWolves. The excitement in Erie started long before the 2017 season began, as early in the offseason the franchise announced an agreement to rename their stadium as UPMC Park. As part of the agreement the SeaWolves expanded their promotional and community partnerships with the healthcare company, including a campaign that saw all newborns receive an Erie SeaWolves onesie and the expansion of C. Wolf’s Healthy Challenge, a nutrition and fitness program. The excitement carried over into the season as the SeaWolves welcomed an average of 3,350 fans per game to UPMC Park, an increase of 10-percent over their average attendance in 2016. The increase came thanks in part to the SeaWolves’ creative promotional schedule that featured events like Alternative Facts Night, a promotion that included fans receiving championship rings for a 2016 title that the team never won. The promotion was a hit and received national recognition. The Erie franchise also has a strong digital presence, which was proven when the organization created a successful campaign to win the Minor League Baseball BUSH’S Home Run Recipes contest. Their “Mojo & AC Rocket Dog” topped entries from 64 other teams. The Erie SeaWolves are also heavily involved in their community, volunteering more than 400 hours to local causes and contributing over $250,000 in tickets, in-kind gifts and monetary donations in 2017.
For the John Henry Moss Community Service Award, which is given to a club that demonstrates an outstanding, on-going commitment to charitable service, support and leadership, the Eastern League is nominating the Reading Fightin Phils. The Reading organization certainly fits that description, as this past June the organization broke ground on the brand new Savage 61 Dream Field, which is a facility that will provide children with physical and developmental disabilities the opportunity to play baseball. The unique rubberized surface is the first field of its kind to be built in Berks County. The project is being fully funded by Baseballtown Charities, the Reading Fightin Phils charitable organization. As part of the fundraising efforts the Fightin Phils hosted the first ever Dinner Under the Stars last October and raised $650,000 towards the project. Those fundraising efforts for the Dream Field were in addition to the regular charitable efforts of the franchise that included in-stadium fundraising and support for numerous charitable organizations.
The Eastern League nominee for the Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award, which is presented to a club or individual employed by a club for outstanding support of and engagement with the United States Armed Forces and veterans, both at the ballpark and in the community, is Richard Tylicki of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. Richard began his career with the Binghamton franchise as an operations intern in 1994 and was later hired as the Director of Stadium Operations. While working for the club Richard has simultaneously served in the US Army Reserve and has been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Richard’s tenure with the Binghamton franchise has been interrupted four different times for overseas contingency operations and Richard has been awarded 23 medals during his service to date, most notably the Bronze Star for meritorious service in a combat zone, and the Meritorious Service Medal, which was awarded for exceptional service in support of Command and Staff while deployed to Kuwait in 2013.
The Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year award is given out annually to one woman who has made an outstanding contribution to her club, league or to baseball. For this award the Eastern League is pleased to nominate Megan Angstadt of the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Megan, who just completed her sixth season with the Richmond organization and her eighth in Minor League Baseball, is the Director of Community Relations for the club and is also the Director of Flying Squirrels Charities, the 501(c)3 charitable organization of the franchise. In her role as Director of Community Relations Megan oversees all aspects of community involvement for the team, including over 600 mascot, player, and staff appearances. For the 2017 season Megan also took over as the on field emcee for every Flying Squirrels home game. She also is an important member of the Flying Squirrels sales staff, leading the sales effort for more than 15 youth baseball camps hosted at The Diamond as well as working with groups to generate revenue for the franchise.