Oops We Did It Again: Saints Awarded American Association Organization of the Year for Fourth Straight Season
ST. PAUL, MN - The St. Paul Saints formula continues to equal success. Hard work in the off-season and grinding away when the lights aren't bright has turned into success once the calendar turns to May, or this season in the month of March. From another incredible season at the turnstiles, once again leading all of minor league baseball in percent capacity, to promotions that garnered national headlines and memorable moments both on and off the field, plus much more helped earn the Saints American Association Organization of the Year for the fourth consecutive season and fifth time in franchise history since the inception of the American Association in 2006.
The Saints led the American Association in attendance for the fourth consecutive season, drawing 408,921, second highest in franchise history. The Saints were over the 7,210 capacity in 45 of the 50 home games, drew more than 9,000 fans five times, including a season high 9,791 on June 24, and were over 8,000 in 32 of the 50 home games.
In addition, for the fourth consecutive season, the Saints were tops in all of Minor League Baseball (roughly 300 teams) in percent capacity, 113%, eighth in average attendance (8,178), only behind seven Triple-A teams, and 21st in overall attendance (408,921). The 20 teams that outdrew the Saints played at least 20 more home games.
"I think I speak on behalf of our staff and ownership when I say that we couldn't be more appreciative of this wonderful recognition," said Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Derek Sharrer. "That said, this recognition truly extends outside the walls of our offices. We are so fortunate to do what we do in an incredible ballpark, in a wonderful city, with wonderful partners and amazing fans."
The Saints promotions were once again covered both locally and nationally, had some incredible viral moments and generated national attention prior to the season beginning in March when they ran a March Madness Twitter contest. The Saints promised to give away $10,000 to one lucky person if a #16 seed upset a #1 seed, something that had never happened in tournament history. The Saints were trending around the country when UMBC knocked off the University of Virginia as more than 27,000 people retweeted the original tweet for the chance to win $10,000. The Saints then did a Facebook Live drawing and Curt McKay of Centerville, MN was the big winner. In May the Saints invited the UMBC mascot out to CHS Field and awarded the check to McKay.
The Saints did two creative name changes during the course of the season. In honor of a raccoon that climbed the UBS building a few blocks from CHS Field, the Saints became the St. Paul Raccoons on June 26. The team wore special St. Paul Raccoon jerseys that were auctioned off during the game, with proceeds donated to the Minnesota Wildlife Services.
On August 13 the Saints removed their familiar moniker in favor of one that might have baffled and dismayed their fans as they become the St. Paul Guttural Uff Das. The Saints wore special Uff Da jerseys that were auctioned off during the game. Uff Da is an interjection of Norwegian origin, brought by Scandinavian Americans to the upper Midwest during the 19th century. It can be used as an expression of surprise, astonishment, relief, and sometimes dismay. It can often be used for common obscenities. The saying is so common in Norway that Charlie Brown uses the phrase "Uff Da" instead of "Good Grief." The idea stemmed from various Minor League teams changing their names, either for good or for a day, in 2017. The Saints, as an April Fools' joke, put out a press release saying they were changing their name for all 50 home games. The fans loved it so much, the staff elected to have fans vote on a name change for a game in 2017. It was so successful they did it again in 2018.
If those promotions weren't enough, the Saints received the most attention for honoring the 40th Anniversary of the cult-classic Animal House on August 14. As fans entered the ballpark they were handed ponchos and then in the fourth inning they went to the concourse and picked up their tasty projectiles: marshmallows, popcorn, powdered donuts, and mashed potatoes. Following the final out in the fifth inning a ballpark-wide food fight ensued. Fans donated non-perishable food items, which were donated to SafeZone, a daytime center started by Face To Face, a Saint Paul organization that serves more than 3,000 homeless and underserved youth and young adults usually ages 11-24. In addition, for every dollar the Saints spent on the food being used in the food fight, they donated that amount to Second Harvest Heartland, an organization working to end hunger through community partnership.
Finally, on August 29 the Saints hosted another ballpark-wide event, but this time it was for the individual. Fans said I Do, to themselves, on Sologamy night. Sologamy, the act of marrying oneself, was a huge success as the Saints decorated the ballpark for a wedding as the ceremony took place in the fourth inning. Mirrors were placed around the ballpark so people could get a glimpse at the one they were going to spend the rest of their life with. There were also cakes for people to cut their first slice as a married person and one lucky fan won a trip to Intercourse, PA.
On the field the Saints finished 59-41, their fourth highest win total in franchise history and reached the playoffs for the 15th time. They defeated the Gary SouthShore RailCats three-games-to-one in the North Division Series before falling in the American Association Championship Series. It was the ninth time they reached the Championship Series.
CHS Field continued to be the talk of the Twin Cities and Minor League Baseball. The ballpark was used for much more than just Saints games. With the Twin Cities serving as host for a "Bold North" Super Bowl LII, CHS Field was transformed into a winter wonderland featuring a 35' high by 130' long snow Super Slide as well as an ice fishing pond. For the first time in its history, CHS Field played host to the MIAC (Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) Baseball Playoffs as well as the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) World Series. Once again, CHS Field, hosted several high school Section Tournaments as well as the State High School Baseball Tournament. 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, Beer Dabbler Craft Beer Festival, Grill Fest, AARP Movie Night, Bacon and Beer Classic, and the Monster Dash 5/10K and Get Lucky 7K races. The Securian Financial 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 2018, CHS Field continued to be St. Paul's front porch.
The Saints continued to solidify their commitment to St. Paul and the greater Twin Cities community by participating in a number of initiatives and supporting hundreds of charitable efforts throughout the season, both out in the community and inside CHS Field. Each week, when the team was home, a player would go to a Saint Paul Public Library for the Reading Tree program, where a local author, and a Saints player, would read from the author's book to promote literacy. One of the biggest events in the area was the United Way Action Day where the Saints, along with numerous organizations, filled 25,000 backpacks that were given to underserved children. The Saints were also a part of Children's Minnesota Star Studio Sports Bingo. A Saints player appeared on local hospital programming with a co-host from Star Studios named "The Dude." The program was broadcast throughout the St. Paul and Minneapolis Children's Minnesota. After the regular season ended the Saints took part in Pulling Together, a tug-of-war event against other sports teams that helped raise money for Fraser. The Saints were able to raise $5,000 for the cause. During the season the Saints, along with their partner Walser Automotive, donated $500 each time the Saints scored five or more runs at home. The two organizations donated $12,500 to Fraser. Also, the Saints and MN Corn Growers teamed up to donate money each time an error was committed by the Saints or their opponent. The organizations donated $5,000 to the MN Bee Lab.
The Organization of the Year Award was voted on by 24 total members of the American Association: the 12 managers and a media representative, usually the broadcaster, from each of the 12 teams in the league. This is the fifth time the Saints have earned the American Association Organization of the Year in the leagues 12-year history. They also won the award in 2009.
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American Association Stories from October 15, 2018
- Oops We Did It Again: Saints Awarded American Association Organization of the Year for Fourth Straight Season - St. Paul Saints
- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
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