Saints Named Freitas Award Winner as Top Triple-A Organization by Baseball America
ST. PAUL, MN - Minnesota Twins Principal Owner Jim Pohlad was open and honest in December, 2020 when the St. Paul Saints became the Twins Triple-A affiliate: continue being the most irreverent franchise in all of baseball. In the two seasons since the affiliation occurred, the Saints have not only continued to showcase their promotional chops, but have stepped up their game, reengaged with the community following the 2020 pandemic, and brought together fans who want a night of entertainment and baseball. Baseball America, one of the most respected publications in the industry, has recognized the Saints with the annual Freitas Award as the top Triple-A franchise in Minor League Baseball for 2022.
"Our Saints' staff is among the most creative and talented I've ever had the privilege to work beside," said Saints Chairman/CEO, Marv Goldklang. "This recognition, by the premier industry publication, is a truly wonderful way to cap an amazing year. We now turn the page and begin the effort to make our fan and community experience even more special in the year to come."
Going from 50 home games as an Independent Professional Baseball team, to 65 in their first season as a Triple-A franchise in 2021, to 75 in 2022, the Saints staff needed to step their game up when it came to plotting out a promotional schedule. Trying to fill more games than at any time in the organizations history with creative ideas proved challenging, but they were up to the task. So much so, that one of their ideas was awarded a Golden Bobblehead for best promotion in all of Minor League Baseball during the Baseball Winter Meetings on December 4. On Sunday, May 8, Saints ushertainer Seigo Masubuchi ran a marathon around the concourse of CHS Field during that afternoon's Saints-Iowa Cubs game. The concourse at CHS Field was renamed the Rebecca Veeck Marathon Course at CHS Field, in honor of Saints owner Mike Veeck's daughter who passed away in 2019 from Batten's Disease. Seigo, who was officially running his 91st marathon, was also running to help raise money for the Batten Foundation. Fans could give a straight donation or donate money to run a lap with Seigo. The course was 84 laps around the concourse of CHS Field. In the end, he raised more than $5,500.
"We are so honored and truly appreciative to have been selected by Baseball America for this recognition," said Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager, Derek Sharrer. "As a staff, we understand how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to do what we do, where we do it, and for whom. We live and work in an amazing community with a supportive municipal partner in the City of Saint Paul. We open our gates to an incredible fan base that provides us the leash to push the envelope and have a lot of laughs. We have Major League partners in the Minnesota Twins, just 10 miles away, that are incredible to work with on so many levels, not least of which is their partnership in working with us to grow the game of baseball in Minnesota. And finally, we are fortunate to work for an ownership group that was willing to take a risk and change the industry 30 years ago."
For the first time in franchise history, the Saints had two separate four-legged pig mascots. The season started with 867530Swine, but with the season at a franchise record 150 games, they needed a new mascot to get to the finish line. On July 26, the Saints pivoted to Chop Gun, Maverib.
On National Intern Day, July 29, the Saints handed out Harmonica's to fans as they passed through the gates. In between a designated inning, fans were asked to blow their harmonicas to top the record for most fans playing a harmonica at a sporting event.
The Saints incorporated promotion and community on August 9 when they honored Saint Paul legend, Jimmy Lee. The Saints introduced an initiative to promote the importance of, and the need for, great umpires and selected seven winners in the inaugural Jimmy Lee Umpire Awards class. The winners included: Lifetime Achievement in Umpiring - Larry Gallagher and Bryan DeVos, Most Dedicated Umpire - Duane Reed & Peyton Yurek, Rookie Umpire of the Year - Nathan O'Brien, Young Umpire of the Year - Ethan Agre, Most Improved Umpire - Chase Hebel.
After a 2021 season in which community appearances were limited, the Saints made sure they more than made up for it in 2022. The entire team took part in two very important moments as they gave back to the Twin Cities youth. Working with the ACES program, the team visited longtime partner Treasure Island Resort and Casino for an evening of bowling and interaction celebrating the end of the school year and the finishing of the year's program for the kids.
In late July, Saints players took the field with more than 50 adults and kids with disabilities to swing bats, play catch, and run the bases in partnership with Beautiful Lives Project. This baseball camp gave the group of kids and adults the opportunity to step foot on a professional field and experience what it's like to be a ballplayer for the day.
Working with those with disabilities didn't stop there, however, as the organization funded and operated a Miracle League adaptive baseball league, kids and adults ranging in age from 10-21 that have either physical or cognitive disabilities, during four Sundays in September and October. The two-team league consisted of 11 players each and they had the chance to hear their name called during each at bat courtesy of the Saints public address announcers. Music Director Andrew Crowley tickled the ivory keys of his keyboard and supplied each game with the atmosphere of a professional game. Each game was played on a rubberized turf field as the Saints provided the equipment.
The Saints didn't miss a beat when it came to drawing fans this past season. They finished 12th in all of Minor League Baseball, averaging 6,582. That ranking improved when focusing on the months the Saints played during their time as an Independent Professional Baseball team: May-September. The Saints were seventh in all of Minor League Baseball during that span, averaging 7,462. The Saints drew 10,077 on August 11, their largest attended game as a Triple-A affiliate and second largest in franchise history.
This is the second time the Saints have been honored by Baseball America. Following the 2006 season, the magazine honored the Saints as their Independent Professional Baseball Organization of the Year.
Baseball America covers baseball at every level around the world. Since 1981, they have grown from a tiny independent publication to one of the most respected voices in the game.
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