For the fourth consecutive season, St. Paul Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Derek Sharrer has won the independent American Association Executive of the Year award.
Sharrer, in his 15th season as General Manager of the Saints, has led a mix of veteran and youthful staff members in 2018 that brought the organization to new heights.
According to Saints Chairman and principal owner, Marv Goldklang, “Derek is the perfect steward for our tremendous staff, providing first rate leadership and mentoring while fostering a level of energy and creativity that is unmatched on the Twin Cities sports landscape. He is truly deserving, once again, of the Executive of the Year recognition.”
The Saints led the American Association in attendance for the fourth consecutive season, drawing 408,921, second highest in franchise history. They led the league by nearly 190,000 fans and were over the 7,210 capacity in 45 of the 50 home games. They drew more than 9,000 fans five times, including a season high 9,791 on June 24, and were over 8,000 in 32 of the 50 home games.
“It means so much to me to have been selected by my peers in a league full of very deserving leaders,” said Sharrer. “That said, this recognition is a direct result of the talent, creativity, energy, and dedication of the group of people I’m so fortunate to work with and learn from every day. From our ownership, to our staff, to the community that continues to receive us so well, we are all so grateful for the opportunity to do what we do here in St. Paul.”
The Saints continue to be the leader in the industry with their off-the-wall promotions. It started prior to the season when they gave away $10,000 through a Twitter contest after #16 seed UMBC defeated #1 seed University of Virginia. During the season two name changes garnered a lot of attention. The first was on June 26 when they changed it to the St. Paul Raccoons in honor of a raccoon climbing to the top of the UBS building just a few blocks from the ballpark. The second, based on an April Fools’ joke from 2017 when the Saints, in jest, said they would change their name for all 50 home games. On August 13 they took one of the names from that list and rebranded for the night to the St. Paul Guttural Uff Das. Finally, two unusual promotions took place during the final two weeks of the season. On August 14, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the hit movie Animal House, the Saints hosted the largest ballpark food fight, which took place during the fifth inning. Fans threw prepared piles of food: marshmallows, popcorn, powdered donuts and mashed potatoes. They also used the evening to donate non-perishable food items and money to local food banks. On August 29 the Saints hosted Sologamy Night, where thousands of Saints fans were given the opportunity to marry themselves, enjoy a wedding reception on their own, and one lucky fan was sent on a honeymoon, all alone.
“The reason Derek is the perfect recipient is because he is always surprised,” said Saints President and Co-owner Mike Veeck. “In an era of practiced humility, the real thing is increasingly attractive.”
CHS Field continued to be the talk of the Twin Cities and Minor League Baseball. The ballpark was used for much more than just Saints games. With the Twin Cities serving as host for a “Bold North” Super Bowl 52, CHS Field was transformed into a winter wonderland featuring a 35’ high by 130’ long snow Super Slide as well as an ice fishing pond. For the first time in its history, CHS Field played host to the MIAC (Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) Baseball Playoffs as well as the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) World Series. Once again, CHS Field, hosted several high school Section Tournaments as well as the State High School Baseball Tournament. Additionally, each St. Paul school was provided the opportunity to play a free regular season game at CHS Field. Numerous events were hosted by the ballpark including the Cat Video Festival, Beer Dabbler Craft Beer Festival, Grill Fest, AARP Movie Night, Bacon and Beer Classic, and the Monster Dash 5/10K and Get Lucky 7K races. The Securian Financial Club at CHS Field also played host to various events ranging from civic and community focused gatherings, to corporate meetings and celebrations, to weddings and Bar Mitzvah’s. Throughout 2018, CHS Field continued to be St. Paul’s front porch.
The Saints continued to solidify their commitment to St. Paul and the greater Twin Cities community by participating in a number of initiatives and supporting hundreds of charitable efforts throughout the season, both out in the community and inside CHS Field. Each week, when the team was home, a player would go to a Saint Paul Public Library for the Reading Tree program, where a local author, and a Saints player, would read from the author’s book to promote literacy. One of the biggest events in the area was the United Way Action Day where the Saints, along with numerous organizations, filled 25,000 backpacks that were given to underserved children. The Saints were also a part of Children’s Minnesota Star Studio, Sports Bingo. A Saints player appeared on local hospital programming with a co-host from Star Studios named “The Dude.” The program was broadcast throughout the St. Paul and Minneapolis Children’s Minnesota. After the regular season ended the Saints took part in Pulling Together, a tug-of-war event against other sports teams that helped raise money for Fraser. The Saints were able to raise $5,000 for the cause. During the season the Saints, along with their partner Walser Automotive, donated $500 each time the Saints scored five or more runs at home. The two organizations donated $12,500 to Fraser. Also, the Saints and MN Corn Growers teamed up to donate money each time an error was committed by the Saints or their opponent. The organizations donated $5,000 to the MN Bee Lab.
This is the fourth time Sharrer has won the American Association Executive of the Year Award and the fifth time in his career, winning a similar honor when he was General Manager of the Fort Myers Miracle (High A; Florida State League) in 1998.
During Sharrer’s tenure with the Saints they have consistently finished at, or near, the top of the league in attendance. In 2006 the Saints were named the inaugural Baseball America Independent League Organization of the Year, for their history of excellence and role as trailblazers in the industry. Additionally, Sharrer was named to the 2007 Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Top 40 under Forty. Sharrer resides in Woodbury with his wife Kandice and two sons Sullivan (15) and Lawson (13).