The Class AA Eastern League has unveiled its nominees for several 2019 MiLB awards, including 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 San Diego.
The 2019 Eastern League nominees are listed below:
- John H. Johnson President’s Award: Richmond Flying Squirrels
- Larry MacPhail Award: Hartford Yard Goats
- John Henry Moss Community Service Award: Hartford Yard Goats
- Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award: Bowie Baysox
- Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year Award: Lydia Rios, Trenton Thunder
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 model franchises in all of Minor League Baseball. The 2019 season marked the 10th season in Richmond Flying Squirrels history and the team celebrated by welcoming a total of 400,321 fans to The Diamond in 64 openings, which was good for a league-best average attendance of 6,255 fans per game. It marked the fifth time in the 10 year history of the organization the Flying Squirrels led the league in average attendance and the organization has ranked first or second in average attendance in every season of their existence. Richmond also hosted the 2019 Eastern League All-Star Game, creating a four day event that showcased the Greater Richmond region to the thousands that were in attendance at the game and all the surrounding events. Before ever taking the field for a game 10 years ago the Flying Squirrels have had a strong presence in the city of Richmond and have made giving back to their community a top priority. The franchise raises hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations and gifts in kind annually for hundreds of different organizations while also making numerous of 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 Hartford Yard Goats. This is the second consecutive season the Yard Goats have been the league nominee. Since the opening of Dunkin’ Donuts Park in 2017, the Hartford Yard Goats have welcomed more than 1-million fans through the turnstiles. During the 2019 season the Yard Goats welcomed a franchise-record total of 414,946 fans to Dunkin’ Donuts Park, which led all Eastern League clubs. That attendance total included a franchise-record total of 51 sellouts during the 2019 season, including ending the season with a streak of 29 consecutive sellouts from July 3rd-August 29th. One of the many reasons so many fans make their way out to the ballpark in Hartford is the fun and creative promotions and giveaways the Yard Goats offer their fans at every one of their games. When the club announced their promotional schedule prior to the start of the 2019 season, the organization also announced they would no longer sell peanuts at their games, making Dunkin’ Donuts Park the first stadium in Minor League Baseball to become completely peanut-free in order to make the ballpark accessible to fans that suffer from nut related allergies. Beyond their regular season schedule, the Yard Goats also hosts numerous high school and college games at Dunkin’ Donuts Park while also playing host to a number of non-baseball related events such as the Links At The Yard event where the stadium is converted into a 9-hole, target-style golf course.
The Hartford Yard Goats are also the Eastern League nominee 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 Hartford organization certainly fits that description, as giving back to their community is a main focus of their franchise. That commitment to the community could be seen from the start, as the franchise took a 1,300 foot retail space at Dunkin’ Donuts Park and turned it into a community center. The Aetna Community Center acts as the home base for the Yard Goats Foundation while hosting numerous community related events. The flagship program hosted at the Aetna Community Center is the Young Ambassadors Program. The participants of this program are high school students that live or attend school in Hartford. Through the program the students receive leadership training and are educated on a variety of topics including personal branding, money management, good study habits, college readiness, and more. Some of the other programs hosted by the Yard Goats include the YG Youth Culinary Arts Program, a program where students from Hartford schools learn to cook in the executive kitchen at the ballpark, and the YG Youth Performing Arts Program, where students learn to connect “real life” to the stage. These are just a small sampling of the many ways the Yard Goats give back to their community while helping to raise money and awareness for organizations through the Greater Hartford region.
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, are the Bowie Baysox. The 2019 season marked the 20th season the Baysox have hosted Navy Night, which includes over 1,400 members of the Plebe Summer class of the U.S. Naval Academy attending the game. The organization also donated 5,000 tickets to Naval Stadium Annapolis to be distributed to active military, their families, and Navy retirees from around the region. The Baysox have donated over 100,000 tickets to Navy personnel throughout the 20-year history of Navy Night. Other military themed events at Prince George’s Stadium included hosting events for Joint Base Andrews and Fort Meade and hosting an event with U.S. Coast Guard Yard Baltimore on a Water Safety Night. The Baysox also hosted Military Appreciation Nights at every Wednesday night home game during the season and hosted an AMVETS Night on Flag Day.
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 Lydia Rios of the Trenton Thunder. Lydia originally joined the Thunder front office prior to the 2015 season and was promoted to her current position of Vice President of Marketing in October of 2017. In her current role Lydia oversees corporate partnerships, services local accounts, and provides leadership in the Thunder sales department. Lydia has also taken on a greater role with game day staff and has been involved with the planning process on large scale capital projects taking place at ARM & HAMMER Park.