The Class AA Southern League has unveiled the winners of its 2019 Executive Awards, giving prizes to individuals and teams in several categories.
Jimmy Bragan Executive of the Year – Rich Mozingo, Chattanooga Lookouts
Mozingo overcame a serious health issue to lead a resurgent season in Chattanooga, as the Lookouts increased their average attendance by almost 300 fans per game this year. Despite an aging facility and the uncertainties that come with a new affiliate, the team has increased attendance via creative marketing and promotions and continues to sell out staples such as July 3rd and Used Car night. Mozingo and his staff continue to oversee and make sure community programs such as Most Improved Student and Food Drive Sundays are a yearly success. His dedication to the Lookouts and the Southern League is notable and his opinion continues to be well respected. Mozingo is also an active member of the league’s Rules and Competition Committee.
Woman of Excellence – Kelsey Thompson, Biloxi Shuckers
The 2019 Southern League All-Star Game would not have been as successful without the involvement of Kelsey Thompson. After taking on an increased role, Thompson handled many responsibilities with events, travel, and logistics leading up to and throughout the All-Star break. Throughout the process she was incredibly professional and handled everything with care and quick responsiveness.
Outstanding Employee of the Year – Ari Rosenbaum, Mobile BayBears
The Southern League’s 2019 Outstanding Employee of the Year, Rosenbaum has worked for the BayBears for many years and has done a great job. Throughout the farewell season of the Mobile BayBears, he worked hard to make the BayBears a great community partner and strived to ensure that the BayBears continued to offer quality entertainment and a professional product for the area’s loyal fans.
Don Mincher Organization of the Year – Chattanooga Lookouts
The Chattanooga Lookouts have had a very successful 2019 season. Through 65 games this year they have surpassed their entire season’s attendance for three of the past four seasons and are on pace to see a year-over-year increase of close to 20%. Their average attendance through 65 games is the highest per opening since 2012 and the highest average for 14 of their last 15 years. Overall revenue is set to reach a record level, led by a surge in group ticket sales. On the corporate sales side, the Lookouts have increased sponsorship to a new level, surpassing their previous high (last year) by over 9%.
An overall push on the sponsorship side was aided by the addition of a new presenting partner, FirstBank. Chattanooga had a jam-packed promotional schedule in 2019, featuring returning fan favorites such as Superhero Night and Used Car Night along with brand-new promotions. The Lookouts also became the first team in the Southern League to participate in Minor League Baseball’s Copa de la Diversion program, transforming into Las Montañas de Chattanooga for three games while partnering with local non-profit La Paz. The Lookouts also continued their focus on community this season by partnering with several organizations to increase awareness and raise money through ticket fundraising and by hosting their annual walk at AT&T Field. For example, the Hydrocephalus Association presented Star Wars Night, the Epilepsy Foundation presented Superhero Night, and Karen Collins Un-Teale There is a Cure presented Ovarian Cancer Awareness Night.
Southern League Promotional Trophy – Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
This year the Jumbo Shrimp continued to cement their reputation both within Jacksonville and nationwide as a franchise with unprecedented promotions of national relevance. A nominee for MiLB’s May Promotion of the Month, Vice Night included a new logo and record-breaking merchandise line; earning ESPN’s Minor League Promotion of Week as well as the voting round of MiLB’s Golden Bobblehead award for best jersey. In June, the Jumbo Shrimp’s Ramen Noodle Appreciation Night took home an MiLB Promo of the Month nomination and included a Shrimp Ramen Noodle pillow giveaway. The club’s Florida Man Night took center stage on a national scale, helping the Jumbo Shrimp wind up with the season’s best presale. Fans enjoyed watching the club’s staff break a weird Florida law each inning, all while raising awareness for serious causes such as mental illness and addiction. ESPN also featured the Jumbo Shrimp’s World’s Largest Cocktail (Sauce) Party. The club’s take on a Jacksonville tradition saw fans break the world record for most party poppers popped at one time, as well as a postgame lighted Shrimp Drop from center field to kick off a fireworks extravaganza. The peak of the promo schedule came during the club’s literal “Two for Tuesday”, the Jumbo Shrimp partnered with local charity Dreams Come True to host Jacksonville Dreamer Junior Ribeiro – who is fighting cancer – and his father as the only two fans in a fully-staffed ballpark. The dream night tailored for Junior also set a Southern League attendance record with just those two fans in attendance.
Southern League Community Service Award – Tennessee Smokies
The Tennessee Smokies have had a great amount of community involvement throughout the entire 2019 season. The Smokies attend several events throughout the year with mascot/staff presence, and either attend or host events for schools, fundraising, networking, the local community, and much more. The Smokies also donate proceeds from jersey auctions on theme nights to specific charities including Remote Area Medical, American Cancer Society, Donate Life Tennessee, Alzheimer’s Tennessee, the Pat Summitt Foundation, and United Way of Greater Knoxville and Sevier County. The Smokies have had six different themed jerseys that have been auctioned on respective theme nights to benefit charity. This season, the Smokies will once again be teaming up with U.S. Cellular for the U.S. Cellular Field takeover in which little league players get the full Smokies experience for a day. The Smokies staff provides PA announcements for the players, press conference style interviews, on-field games, and mascot appearances. The club also has charitable contributions that total over $200,000, helping organizations throughout the Knoxville community.
Southern League Patriot Award – Montgomery Biscuits
The Montgomery Biscuits continually find ways to embrace, honor, and impact the local military population – both active duty and retired. Partnerships include those with Air Force Recruiting, the Air National Guard, and the Alabama Army National Guard. With Maxwell Air Force Base so close to the heart of Montgomery, the Biscuits have a number of clear partnerships at the park including Military Wednesdays which feature discounted tickets, a Military Card Set Giveaway, and a Military Jersey Auction. How the Biscuits connect to both Maxwell and military members in general represents the Southern League greatly in several different ways.
Sports Media Award – Mia O’Brien – First Coast News, Jacksonville
In addition to her excellent profiles and interviews of Jumbo Shrimp players and coaches, Mia O’Brien – a sports anchor and reporter for First Coast News in Jacksonville – has found innovative ways to cover the club throughout the 2019 season. She dressed up and worked as a bat girl for a Jumbo Shrimp game in June, helped rub baseballs, set up the sunflower seeds and drinks in the dugouts, retrieved bats and foul balls, and also provided the umpires with baseballs throughout the game. In addition, O’Brien featured the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville with a comprehensive guide to find the venue’s best seat, set from different fan perspectives during a Jumbo Shrimp game. O’Brien has also interviewed Jumbo Shrimp owner Ken Babby live during her coverage of the club’s Florida Man Night. Her player profiles include a feature examining relief pitcher Brett Graves’ YouTube channel explaining the life of a minor league baseball player, starting pitcher Jordan Yamamoto and his clubhouse barber shop, and a unique profile of top Marlins prospect Sixto Sanchez. O’Brien’s coverage of the Jumbo Shrimp also includes widespread promotion through her social media channels on Twitter and Instagram.
Radio Broadcaster of the Year – Steve Goldberg, Mobile BayBears
For a relatively young broadcaster, Goldberg is very professional on air and continues to impress people across the league. His one-on-one interviews are excellent and informative, and he continued to perform admirably without a broadcast partner for 140 games in a challenging environment as the Mobile team completed their final season in the league at Hank Aaron Stadium.
Best Clubhouse Attendant – Michael Parham, Montgomery Biscuits
The league’s Field Managers and Umpires vote on the Best Clubhouse Attendant every year, and Parham won the majority of votes for this award based on his improvement over last season, as well as his exceptional services in the clubhouse and umpires’ locker room.
Best Batboy – Michael Hawkins, Chattanooga Lookouts
Awarded to the person that shows the most hustle, enthusiasm and assistance to club staff and umpires during the season, this year’s favorite was Michael Hawkins, who worked hard on and off the field.
Sports Turf Manager of the Year – Zach Van Voorhees, Birmingham Barons
For the second straight year, Zach Van Voorhees from Birmingham has been selected as the Southern League Sports Turf Manager of the Year. Voted on by the league’s field managers, radio broadcasters and umpires, Van Voorhees is automatically nominated to compete for the Double-A Groundskeeper of the Year (STMA award) presented by the Sports Turf Managers Association.
Athletic Trainer of the Year (chosen by PBATS) – Tyler Moos, Chattanooga Lookouts
The PBATS’ Minor League Athletic Trainers of the Year Awards are presented annually to one athletic trainer of each of the 16 leagues in Minor League Baseball, as well as one award for the Dominican Summer League. This year, PBATS named Tyler Moos of the Chattanooga Lookouts (Cincinnati Reds) the Southern League Athletic Trainer of the Year.