VISALIA-The Rawhide garnered another honor today, as the California League awarded Visalia with their Organization of the Year Award and nominated it for the national John H. Johnson Award.
The decoration culminates four years of remarkable turnaround, as the Rawhide have transformed from one of the most moribund, endangered franchises in Minor League Baseball to a stable and widely respected fixture in its industry and community.
"Tom Seidler, Jennifer Pendergraft, and the entire Rawhide staff have done an amazing job revitalizing the Visalia ballclub," said California League President Charlie Blaney. "Their investment in annual ballpark improvements and extensive community outreach help make it a model franchise for the California League and all of Minor League Baseball."
The Rawhide recently concluded their 4th consecutive season of franchise-record attendance. They also hosted more non-baseball events at Rawhide Ballpark than ever before, including IrishFest, Oktoberfest, TNA Professional Wrestling, wedding receptions, a high school prom, and the East vs. West High School All-Star Game. The venue continues to evolve into a year-round community gathering place.
The club raised over $80,000 through its Home Runs for HEART promotion for the HEART after-school program, and championed a fundraiser for 2-year-old Olly Ajluni, who is suffering from a rare disease called "Histio," raising over $10,000 to support his family.
The Rawhide have also become an integral part of the area, as players and coaches spent over 500 hours serving at various charitable, school, and community functions in 2012. Every Rawhide player and coach was placed with local host families during this recent season...an extreme rarity in Minor League Baseball.
"We have a great deal of respect for each of the nine other Cal League franchises, and are honored to be recognized by our peers at the top of the class this year," said Rawhide President Tom Seidler. "Professional Baseball has been at Recreation Ballpark for 66 years, and has never been healthier or more connected to the Visalia community than it is today."
The Rawhide are now a finalist for the prestigious John H. Johnson Award for Minor League Organization of the Year. With over 200 affiliated Minor League clubs around the country, competition for this honor is extremely high, and this marks the first time that Visalia has ever been nominated since its founding in 1946.
The club collected yet another award when Tom Seidler was named California League Executive of the Year today. Last month, Rawhide Director of Broadcasting Donny Baarns was named Minor League Broadcaster of the Year by Ballpark Digest.
More ballpark improvements and promotions are already in development for 2013, which promises to be another year of continued revitalization for baseball in Tulare County!