"The Dragons are honored to receive the Larry MacPhail Promotional Trophy and wish to thank all of our fans for making this award possible," said Robert Murphy, Dragons President. "With their undying support, they have made Dragons baseball a truly unique family experience at Fifth Third Field. We would also like to recognize the incredible efforts of the entire Dragons staff including our hundreds of valuable game-day employees, many of whom have been a part of Dragons baseball since the beginning. Thanks to everyone who has helped make Dragons baseball such an award-winning experience."
In 2009, the Dragons finished first in attendance among all Single-A teams in the nation for the 10th time in their 10 years of existence, finishing with an attendance total of 586,071. The Dragons extended their consecutive game sell-out streak to 704, the longest in professional baseball history and second longest in sports history.
The top event at Fifth Third Field in 2009 was the historic Cincinnati Reds Futures Game on April 4th in which the Reds' Major League club came to Dayton for an exhibition game against a collection of the Reds' top prospects from the Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A levels, a first-of-its-kind event in professional baseball. The event was well-documented in the trade publication for Minor League Baseball, Baseball America, with an article titled, "Dayton, Reds Hit on Home Run Idea."
On July 11th, more than 9,000 fans attended a concert at Fifth Third Field featuring musical legends Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, and Willie Nelson. Other major events hosted by the Dragons at Fifth Third Field included the Atlantic 10 Baseball Championships over four dates in May; a series of 24 high school baseball games in April and May; and the Bob Ross Classic on July 11th, a showcase of top high school baseball seniors from 38 schools.
Among the many elements of the Dragons community relations program in 2009 were the "Dragons MVP Program," a tool for teachers of fourth and fifth grade students; the "Hometown Heroes" program, a season-long tribute to those who serve out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Springfield Air National Guard Base; the "Home Run for Life," a monthly on-field tribute to specific children who have overcome a significant medical event such as cancer, premature birth defects, Cystic Fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and other serious ailments.
The Dragons promotional efforts at every Dragons game at Fifth Third Field featured a unique ballpark experience geared towards family entertainment and fun. The Dragons primary mascots, Heater and Gem, and ballpark characters Roofman and Wink, were the basis of an entertainment theme that provided fans with a different show for each of the Dragons 70 home dates. Creation of mascot skits and use of stadium sound, video, and LED systems, coupled with the utilization of well-orchestrated choreography and the Dragons dance teams (the Retirement Village People and the Mini-Dugout Dancers) all contribute to the family-friendly atmosphere.
The Dragons efforts also included an extensive multi-media campaign. The team provided every fan at each game with a free copy of the Dragons program, PlayBall!, a full-color magazine. Fifteen Dragons games were broadcast live on "over-the-air" television on WHIO 7.2 through an in-house production that featured a group of guest color commentators including four members of the Reds Hall-of-Fame. The team also broadcast all games on radio on WING 1410.
The award is presented each year in honor of Larry MacPhail, an innovator in baseball promotions. MacPhail, former Chief Executive of the Reds, Dodgers, and Yankees in the 1930's and 1940's, is credited with the introduction of night baseball and the use of radio and television to increase the popularity of the game.