RiverDogs capture prestigious Larry MacPhail Award
Minor League Baseball announce that the Charleston RiverDogs are the winners of the 48th annual Larry MacPhail Award, symbolizing the top promotional effort in all of Minor League Baseball. The RiverDogs will receive their award at the Baseball Winter Meeting Banquet at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, Dec. 12.
“The Charleston RiverDogs have been one of the clubs at the forefront of creating and developing fun, new ways to promote themselves at their ballpark and in their community through such campaigns as ‘Be Your Own Fan’ and ‘Fun Is Good’,” said Pat O’Conner, president and CEO of Minor League Baseball.
“Their involvement with the Charleston RBI Program and the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame are just two of the many ways that the RiverDogs also promote our great game in the South Carolina Lowcountry,” he added.
“On behalf of the entire Charleston RiverDogs family, we are thrilled to receive this prestigious honor,” said Dave Echols, the RiverDogs executive vice president and general manager. “The MacPhail Award is one of the most recognizable awards bestowed in professional baseball. This citation is a credit to our ownership group – The Goldklang Group – whose guidance and direction are for us to make sure that our fans enjoy what has become the ‘RiverDogs experience.’ We accept this with great pride and humility, as we strive to share the philosophy of ‘Fun Is Good.’”
The RiverDogs, who also won the MacPhail Award in 1998, join Hawaii (1969, 1970), Reading (1994, 1999), Richmond (1985, 1990) and Rochester (1967, 1997) as clubs which have won this award two times.
This season, Charleston added to its already packed promotional schedule and ballpark experience with several additions which contributed to double digit increases in both overall (11.5 percent) and average (13.2 percent) attendance, compared to 2012. The South Atlantic League club introduced several new menu items, including three flavors of beer shakes, a Wacko Taco Stand with locally grown farm fresh vegetables, gluten-free beer and snacks and a peanut butter and jelly jalapeno bacon burger.
The club’s “Healthy Challenge Tuesday” promotion included elements about living a healthier lifestyle. The RiverDogs teamed with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Wellness Center and created a new line of healthy concessions options available throughout the season, many made from crops grown on the MUSC Urban Farm located in downtown Charleston. Each Tuesday game featured a different item from these new healthy selections and the item was offered to fans at a discounted rate.
Additionally, RiverDogs co-owner Bill Murray’s South Atlantic League Hall of Fame induction speech was used as the cornerstone for the club’s early season TV commercials. Charleston is extremely active on social media, with more than 22,000 Facebook fans and 11,000 Twitter followers, as well as Pinterest, Instagram and Vine accounts to connect and hear feedback from their fans.
Charleston’s marketing slogan of “Be Your Own Fan” is based primarily on direct interaction with its fans. The RiverDogs listened to them and moved up the start time for their Saturday games one hour to 6:05 p.m.
All 10 of their Monday home games featured a local non-profit organization and a season ticket holder was featured at every home game. All peninsula youth baseball teams were outfitted in RiverDogs T-shirts for their uniforms, saving the city parks and recreation department more than $10,000. A youth baseball T-shirt promotion allowed players to receive discounts by wearing the shirts to games.
Other community initiatives included the club’s signature charity, Kindness Beats Blindness, which benefits MUSC Storm Eye Institute, and which has raised more than $250,000 over the past decade; Reading and Running With the RiverDogs, in which a staff member adopts a local third grade class; and the Charleston RBI Program, a local chapter of Major League Baseball’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Program.