The High-A California League has announced the winners of its Executive Awards for the 2019 season. Teams submitted nominations and winners were voted on by their peers.
Organization of the Year: The San Jose Giants – The Giants 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.
The San Jose Giants had a tremendous season. For the first time in franchise history, the club secured a naming rights deal with Excite Credit Union. The organization also set a franchise record in sponsorships.
A marketing push to capitalize on two top prospects, Helliot Ramos and Joey Bart, helped increase attendance and ticket revenue. After a several year decline, the organization is averaged 210 fans more per game than last season, a 9.7% increase in attendance year- to-date.
The Giants continued their excellent work in the Community. The front office, players and mascot will have made more than 225 appearances across the surrounding communities in 2019. The organization agreed to a partnership with Kaiser Permanente to launch the #WeCareWednesday program, which focused on non-profits serving underserved communities and providing them tickets, tabling and on-field presentations every Wednesday game. On the heels of the Cal League’s successful efforts to raise funds for victims of wildfires, which generated $7,297 for the North Division, the Giants partnered with Walmart to co-sponsor our First Responder’s Night to raise additional revenue for the Camp Fire victims.
The organization expanded their Heritage Night Series with celebrations for our Irish, Hawaiian, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Hispanic and Filipino communities leading to a 19% increase in Sunday attendance. The Copa De Diversion Nights, where the Giants took on the San Jose Churros identity in honor of Paul the Churro man, averaged over 3,000 fans per game, and saw the Giants set a new world record for most Churros eaten simultaneously.
Excellence in Marketing and Promotions: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Continuing the success of their Bobblehead Lineup, the Quakes looked for fresh ideas to commemorate the former Quakes and Dodgers celebrated by our fans. This year’s ensemble included a Walker Buehler’s Day Off bobble- complete with mini red Ferrari, a sliding Cody Bellinger, Jedi Justin Turner with glow-in-the-dark light saber/bat, and Alex Verdugo with bobble-HIPS.
Adding their first Margaritaville Night, among our theme night staples like Star Wars Night and First Responders Night, this season the Quakes emphasized new in-park entertainment to enhance the fan’s themed experience. Along with a diverse array of live musical acts and accompanying fireworks shows, theme night funtertainment also included live animals (Owls on Magic Night and Parrots on Margaritaville Night) for fans to interact with, a working train for kids, and magicians.
This season, the Quakes also heavily leaned into themed jerseys, and unveiled “Team Tremor”, in partnership with the California Earthquake Authority, with green and purple-spotted jerseys in an ode to our beloved mascot. At the request of fans and long-time season ticket holders, Tremor was also celebrated with his own Championship Tremor bobblehead with ring.
With an active presence on social media, the Quakes continued to see their social imprint grow and a consistent Top 10 ranking among Class-A Advanced teams in website traffic, online ticket sales, and social media impressions. With increased efforts and resources for content, this year’s social plan included more produced videos, helping the Quakes surpass 44,000 followers on Instagram.
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 Inland Empire 66ers
Throughout the 2019 season, the Inland Empire 66ers have demonstrated exceptional community service throughout the Inland Empire community.
This year the 66ers had a new community focus; the 66ers Foundation. In 2019 the 66ers were able to publicly kick off the non-profit side of their organization, with the mission to fully fund a program that would allow for children to play organized baseball or softball who wouldn’t otherwise have the means to. In partnership with the San Bernardino Unified school district, the 66ers were able to place 60 students in a community little league, covering 100% of the cost for them to play, including registration fees and equipment. On top of sponsoring kids in the community to play, the 66ers partnered with and IE fast food staple, Barker’s Drive-Thru and raised $35,960.19 with their “Round Up” campaign to fund the 66ers Foundation and its efforts to support children in the IE community.
Another special event highlighting the 66ers involvement in the community was the participation of local little league stars in the 2019 California League All-Star Game, as they had the opportunity to partner with a Cal League player, and be an All-Star for a day. The Cal League All-Stars and their support and excitement for the little leaguers’ efforts were off the chart, and demonstrated true community. This initiative was very important to the community as there was a representative from different leagues surrounding the IE, drawing fans to the All-Star Game in support. The 66ers community efforts didn’t stop here, they continue to support nonprofits, schools, and other community groups with monetary, promotional, and ticket donations.
The 66ers 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 fourth year in a row.
In 2019 the JetHawks continued to grow their support of local military, both in the stadium and in the community.
New in 2019, the JetHawks partnered with NECA & IBEW to recognize a Military Family of the Homestand throughout the season. These families, nominated by local members of the community and through Edwards Air Force Base, were recognized on the field during their game, and were treated to a family day at the ballpark, with JetHawks shirts and meals included.
On August 24, the JetHawks partnered with Bank of America and Merrill Lynch for the 3rd Annual Military Service before Self awards, in which an active duty service member as well as a civilian are recognized during the game for their commitment to serving their country and community.
The JetHawks also continued their tradition of Military Sundays throughout the season, where JetHawks players donned military-inspired jerseys at each Sunday game in 2019. During Sunday games a “Military Roll Call” recognized both retired and active military members in attendance. First pitches, Color Guards and pre-game swearing in ceremonies all added to the recognition. All military, both active & retired, received 2-for-1 tickets to every Sunday game.
All military members, as well as their families, received free admission to the ballpark on Sunday, May 26th as part of the JetHawks’ Memorial Day Weekend.
A POW/MIA seat, installed in 2016, remains a proud fixture at The Hangar, recognizing those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.
In honor of Chuck Murphy, a sign proclaiming “God Bless America” hangs prominently at the main gate, viewed by all fans as they exit the ballpark.
Woman of Excellence: Katie Woods, Assistant General Manager, Lancaster JetHawks
Prior to the 2019 season Katie Woods returned to the Lancaster JetHawks as the Assistant General Manager and played a vital role in the success of the organization this season. Her leadership and many years of experience in Minor League Baseball provided a significant and much needed upgrade to the JetHawks front office staff. Her specific areas of focus this season included launching and executing the JetHawks “El Viento” program, which was a huge success resulting in significant increases for not only the team’s Friday night games, but in general awareness for the organization throughout the Hispanic community in the Antelope Valley.
Additionally, with Katie’s expertise the team was able to significantly grow and enhance its social media and online marketing efforts which directly translated to increases of 38% in online ticket sales as well as a 20% increase in walk-up ticket sales. Her work ethic and creativity have rubbed off on the rest of the front office staff in a manner which enabled the JetHawks to produce fantastic results across the board in 2019.
Katie 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: Joe Hudson – General Manager, Inland Empire 66ers
Joe executed the 2019 California League All Star game to near perfection with the All-Star Dinner, Hangar 24 Party, historic HOF Luncheon, HR Derby, Game & after party. The events were seamless highlighted by a sold out stadium to the tune of nearly 5000 fans. It marked the first time that the Inland Empire hosted an All-Star Game in 15 years.
Joe has been with Elmore Sports for 17 seasons & 2019 marks his 7th season as the General Manager. He is proud to serve as the General Manager of the team in the city that he grew up in (San Bernardino).
Joe made his mark on the concession side and you can see it in full force at San Manuel Stadium. Two new elements that have increased revenue for the 66er’s is acquiring a full liquor license and creating the Toyota Redlands Garage Suite for large groups at a premium price. It is the place to be at San Manuel Stadium. Joe, as President of Diamond Concessions, also executes and oversees 10 other venues / ballparks for Food and Beverage.
The 2019 season has seen Inland Empire hit record highs in revenue and at or near the top of the California League in attendance.
Joe lives in Redlands with his wife Sarah and sons Chace & Dillon.
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.”