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California League Unveils 2018 Executive Awards

California League

The High-A California League has announced its 2018 Executive Awards. Teams submitted nominations and winners were voted on by their peers.

Organization of the Year: The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes – The Quakes will represent the Cal League for the national John H. Johnson President’s Award. The award is given annually to a club in Minor League Baseball.

As the winningest season in Quakes history occurred on the field, the Quakes front office “celebrated” their own victories off the field in another season of continued financial growth and solidified strong partnership with the City of Rancho Cucamonga.

With eight sell-outs in 2018, the Quakes saw a group ticket revenue increase of 16% over 2017, a 29% increase in group catering revenue and a 7% increase in sponsorship sales.

Among this year’s promotional highlights, the Quakes were honored to be included in MiLB’s Copa de la Diversión initiative, transforming into the Temblores for six Sundays. The initiative led to new relationships with local and national Latino-based brands, media partners, businesses, and community arts groups.

The 2018 promo schedule included the fifth-annual Star Wars Night, as wells as the introduction of Magic and Muggles Night and Heroes (First Responders) Night, along with a sold-out Military Appreciation Night, and four youth clinics for over 1000 local children.

This season also involved a renovation of the Quakes charity auction format with a partnership with LiveSource, a live-event auction platform, providing in-stadium fans with a more enjoyable experience and exposing the Quakes brand to auction participants nationally. With the app, the Quakes welcomed three new proceed beneficiaries, with the American Red Cross, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and Make-A-Wish OC/IE joining the Bob Hope USO,

Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles, and Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital as Quakes charity partners. The Quakes also continued to support the United Way Kids Pack Program, the Rancho Cucamonga Community Arts Foundation and others with donations, and again rewarded three local graduates with the LoanMart Scholarship.

In June, the Quakes proudly partnered with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and long-time sponsor San Manuel Casino to host a youth clinic, lunch and reading event for 150 Think Together students.

As a bonus to the great season the Quakes had off-the-field, they also won the League Championship by sweeping the North Division Champs, the Visalia Rawhide, in a best-of-five series last week.

Excellence in Marketing and Promotions: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes

Besides winning the Organization of the Year, the Quakes also won the Excellence in Marketing and Promotions Award. Giveaways: Once again, the Quakes were excited to roll out a promotional schedule centered around premium giveaway nights, distributing over 21,000 branded items including bobbleheads, hats, jerseys and more. The giveaway list, a showcase of the Quakes tradition with the Dodgers, supported the organization’s MVP Season Ticket goals with a new high in Guaranteed Giveaway ticket plans sold.

Theme Nights: Along with the fifth annual Star Wars Night, a yearly sell-out with over 40-character appearances, the Quakes added the first ever Magic and Muggles Night, a celebration of Harry Potter fans with a ‘Magic’ jersey auction and complimentary Hogwarts Express rides, and Heroes Night, recognizing our local heroes (first responders) with some super details, like an on-site authentic Batmobile! New theme nights and our promotional staples (six Family Feast Nights and 13 firework shows) helped boost group ticket sales to a 16% over 2017.

Charity Auctions: To support select theme nights, the Quakes hosted four jersey and two hat auctions in 2018, providing in-stadium fans with a more enjoyable experience and exposing the Quakes brand to auction participants nationally.

RC CommUNITY: Celebrating a strong partnership with the City of Rancho Cucamonga, the Quakes used two weekly promotional staples to support city programs, including Healthy RC Recycle Tuesday to reward recycling and Bark in the Ballpark, raising money for the RC Animal Care and Adoption Center and coordinating the successful adoption of shelter dogs.

Social Media/Digital Advertising: With an active presence on social media, the Quakes continued to see their social imprint grow to nearly 83,000 followers. In addition to numerous social media campaigns, the Quakes invested in a second digital advertising service, resulting in a Top 10 ranking among Class A Advanced teams in website traffic and online ticket sales throughout the season.

The Quakes are the Cal League’s nomination for the Larry MacPhail award given to a Minor League team who demonstrates outstanding and creative marketing and promotional efforts within its community.

Excellence in Community Service Award: The Stockton Ports

The Stockton Ports are committed to making an impact year in and year out in San Joaquin County and beyond. The ways in which the Ports give back doesn’t stop at monetary donations, but also includes ticket donations, mascot appearances, player appearances, several community programs, and front office volunteer events.

The team’s Community Relations department generated over $10,000 for the Anchor Fund during the 2018 season through various fundraising efforts, which are constantly continuing to grow. These efforts included traditional events like the 12th Annual Pink Night for Breast Cancer Awareness, Youth Camps, and Root Beer Float Day, in addition to new events like Pediatric Cancer Awareness Night and the season-long fundraiser for Autism Awareness.

Along with fundraising, the Ports are proud to be active in the community on a regular basis, both during the season and in the off-season. In 2018, the Ports are on track to make 200 community appearances during the 365-day calendar year. Appearances include community/partner events, reading program assemblies, and more.

Other big staples the Ports continue to focus on is promoting the importance of reading through the clubs yearlong literacy initiatives. In 2018, the Ports visited 74 schools and distributed more than 45,000 book marks through the Clubs Baseball by the Books program and honored participants with tickets to Ports home games with the winning school receiving a $1,000 check to their PTA. The Ports players and mascot also visited local libraries throughout the summer and read to children as part of the summer literacy program, which also rewarded participants with tickets.

The Ports are on track to contribute more than $30,000 in monetary donations to local non-profits and more than $277,000 of in-kind donations to 462 local organizations in 2018!

The Ports will also represent the League as the nomination for the national John Henry Moss Community Service Award which is Minor League Baseball’s top service award in the industry.

Excellence in Patriotism: The Lancaster JetHawks – The JetHawks will be the Cal League’s representative for Minor League Baseball’s Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award for the third year in a row. In 2018, the winner of the Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award will receive $5,000 to donate to a charity of their choice. Additionally, JetHawks will be rewarded $2,000 to donate to the charity of their choice. In total, $31,000 will be donated to our local military and veteran communities through this newly created fund in honor of Charles K Murphy.

Patriotism and the JetHawks continued to go hand in hand in 2018.

The JetHawks Military Sunday grew in 2018 as Sunday Home Games featured the JetHawks donning their Military Sunday uniforms. During Sunday Games a Military “Roll Call” recognizes Veterans and Active Duty members in attendance. Pre-game ceremonies include First Pitch’s, Color Guards and on-field presentations recognizing the service of local military members. Every Sunday, Military and their families receive 2 for 1 Tickets.

Memorial Day featured FREE Admittance for Veterans and Active Duty Military and their families. The JetHawks partnered with Merrill Lynch and Bank of America to present the “Military Service before Self Award.” This is the 2nd season the JetHawks have partnered on this award – this year recognizing Senior Master Sergeant Daniel B. Margas of the US Air Force – for his commitment to community and his service. Congressman Steve Knight, City Manager Mark Bozigian and officials from Merrill Lynch and Bank of America were on hand for this ceremony.

On August 22, the JetHawks Front Office attended the Edwards Air Force Base “Flight Line Tour,” where local community members toured the Base and spent the day learning how local organizations can assist folks living on the base.

August 30 featured the JetHawks partnering with Corvias to host more than 100 Air Force members, treating them to a free ballgame and meal as part of Fan Appreciation Day

The JetHawks remain proud of their POW/MIA seat which was installed during the 2016 season. Each night this seat stands to remind us of those who have served and lost their lives.

In Honor of Chuck Murphy, the JetHawks “God Bless America” sign hangs prominently at the main gate as fans exit the ballpark.

The JetHawks commitment to Patriotism remains strong and is evident throughout the year.

Woman of Excellence: Jill Webb, Assistant General Manager, Visalia Rawhide

Jill played collegiate softball for Lee University (Tennessee) with Rawhide General Manager, Jen Reynolds, where she displayed unmatched leadership skills. So it’s no surprise that she was a top candidate for recruitment with the Rawhide organization. After 5 years of working for the team, Jill oversees 5 key areas of the organization:

Corporate Sales – Sponsorship revenues increased by 10% from 2017-2018 under her management. Jill’s personal sales have increased by $10-$30,000 each year for the past 5 years.

Marketing – Oversees design, scheduling & spending of ballclub marketing.

Promotions – Direct attendance attributed to promotions increased by 10% from 2017-2018 under her management. Jill communicates a clear vision of expectation for each promotion, and oversees 50% of them herself.

Merchandise – On track to hit $1.90 for in-ballpark merchandise per cap – highest in Rawhide history!

Accounting – Jill handles all of the ballclub’s accounting & payroll.

In addition to her roles on paper, Jill is also a burst of energy & motivation among the staff, and is an integral part of the Rawhide Front Office Family. The leadership & passion she presented on the softball field in college, has directly translated into the office, making her roll a large part of the recent success of the Rawhide organization.

Jill will be the Cal League’s representative for the national Rawlings Woman of the Year award presented at the Winter Meetings in December.

Executive of the Year: Tom Backemeyer – General Manager, Lancaster JetHawks

Tom has been a great leader for both the CAL league as well as in the City of Lancaster. Under Tom’s leadership, the JetHawks have had tremendous growth on the corporate side as well made a great transition to a much better overall operation.

Tom continues to lead the Jethawks Baseball Foundation, which provides scholarships as well as coordinates the Little League program with the Boys and Girls Club of the Antelope Valley. This past year the JetHawks had over 300 participants in a program that included feeding the players, outfitting them, and transporting them. Tom also participated as a Coach in the league.

His peers around the league agree:

“Based on the growth of the Organization, playing host to an extremely successful All Star event as well as heightening the Lancaster Jethawks both locally and throughout the Baseball World, Tom Backemeyer deserves to be named the Executive of the Year.” JetHawks President, Andy Dunn said.

Joe Hudson, GM of the Inland Empire 66ers commented: “Under Tom’s leadership the Lancaster JetHawks have continuously hit strong attendance numbers and significantly improved the fan experience in Lancaster year over year, this while operating with one of the smallest front office staffs in all the Cal League. This year’s All-Star game and festivities was a great representation of Tom’s leadership. From the early tailgate party on Monday, to the concert, the amazing venue for the luncheon, and then finally the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game; the entire two-day event was extremely well run.”

Taylor McCarthy, GM of the Stockton Ports believes “Tom and his overall leadership within the JetHawks organization is truly impressive. He is a great ambassador for the California League and a valued member of the Lancaster community.”

Cal League President, Charlie Blaney, stated: “The winners of these prestigious League Awards were voted by their peers in the league, and they have been submitted as the Cal League’s Nominees for National Honors to be awarded at Baseball’s Winter Meetings in December. The Cal League is very proud of our winners.”

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