October 11, 2017 - American Association (AA) - St. Paul Saints
ST. PAUL, MN - The St. Paul Saints celebrated their 25th season in 2017 by once again leading all of minor league baseball in percent capacity at the turnstiles, never before seen promotions and memorable moments on and off the field. It was because of all of this and much more that the Saints organizations was named the American Association Organization of the Year, for the third straight season, as selected by the leagues managers and media representatives.
For the second straight season the Saints had one game rained out, but still managed to lead the American Association in attendance. The Saints were over their 7,210 seat capacity during 46 of 49 home games, and had a season high 10,143 on July 2. There were 8,000 or more fans at 36 of 49 home games and 9,000 or more 10 times, including a record three straight from July 12-14.
In addition, for the third consecutive season, the Saints were tops in all of Minor League Baseball (roughly 300 teams) in percent capacity, 115%, seventh in average attendance (8,295), only behind six Triple-A teams, and 25th in overall attendance (406,501). The 24 teams that outdrew the Saints played at least 20 more home games.
I couldn't be more proud of the people I work with and for; it's the most dynamic, creative, hard working, and talented group in the business," said Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Derek Sharrer. "That said, I think they would all agree with me in saying that this recognition belongs to the fans in the Twin Cities. It starts and ends with them. They've been rock solid with us for 25-years and words can't begin to express our gratitude to them. This is as much their award as ours."
The entertaining promotions were once again at the forefront and it started before the first pitch was thrown. Since 1993 the Saints have had a pig deliver baseballs to the home plate umpire. Each year fans submit creative names and this year there were a number of exceptional submissions, but one stood out above the rest: Alternative Fats. That name received national recognition and plenty of praise.
The momentum continued on Opening Night when they paid tribute to Mary Tyler Moore. The Saints welcomed local news personnel, as a tribute to Moore, honoring their hard work and dedication. Fans entering the ballpark received a tam hat, made famous by Moore in the opening sequence of the show, and at the end of the second inning fans tossed their tams in the air, similar to the way Moore did at the end of the opening credits.
The biggest promotion of them all, however, began after the Monday, August 21 game. The Saints staff, grounds crew, and grounds crew of the Minnesota Twins, Vikings and University of Minnesota spent more than eight hours painting 56,000 Twister dots on the outfield. The Saints played the August 22 game, against Wichita, on the Twister board and then, following the game, all the fans in attendance came onto the field and took part in the largest game of Twister.
An April Fool's joke turned into a huge boon when the Saints changed their name for one night. The joke started when the Saints said they were changing their name for each home game in 2017. The gag turned into a reality for one night when fans voted to change the team name to "Duck Duck Gray Duck" and the opposing team would be called the "Duck Duck Goose.
Memorable moments occurred all season by honoring the history of the organization with bobbleheads of legendary players and honoring former players. The latter led to the most unforgettable moment of the Saints, and perhaps all of baseball, season. Kevin Millar, who got his start in professional baseball with the Saints in 1993, donned the uniform one more time for the Saints. In an official at bat, on June 24 against the Winnipeg Goldeyes, Millar stepped to the plate with a runner on. The second pitch he saw, Millar drilled a two-run bomb over the left field wall. That moment went viral and was shown repeatedly on ESPN, the MLB Network and other outlets around the country.
CHS Field was once again used for more than just the Saints. It hosted both the State High School Baseball Tournament and the State American Legion Championship. 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, United Way Action Day, Beer Dabbler Craft Beer Festival, and Grill Fest. The Securian 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 2017, CHS Field continued to be St. Paul's front porch.