INDIANAPOLIS -- Baseball America has named the Indianapolis Indians as the Triple-A recipient of the 2013 Bob Freitas Award, which is presented to the organization with the best overall operations at each level of Minor League Baseball. The Indians will accept the award at baseball's annual Winter Meetings on Monday, Dec. 9 in Orlando, Fla.
"It is an honor to be the recipient of the Bob Freitas Award for Triple-A," said 2013 International League Executive of the Year and Indians Vice President and General Manager Cal Burleson. "This award is named after a gentleman who dedicated much of his life to the betterment of Minor League Baseball. It is not an overstatement to say that his impact continues to be felt across the entire country."
The Indians were bestowed the prestigious award after concluding the 2013 regular season with the highest overall attendance among all 176 Minor League Baseball Clubs. The Tribe welcomed a total of 637,579 fans (average of 8,980 per game) through the turnstiles during the 2013 campaign, the fourth-largest total in Victory Field history and the best single-season attendance since the team's championship campaign in 2000.
Indianapolis paced its standout season with a record-setting eight sellouts on the year, which surpassed the team's previous high mark of six sellout crowds in 1997. Victory Field hosted more than 14,230 fans on all eight of the capacity games, including reaching the sellout mark four times in a five-game span on July 4, 13, 26 and 27.
"This award was made possible by the vision of our team president and board of directors, who played such an important role in the design and positioning of Victory Field," Burleson said. "Much credit for our success should also go to the very focused effort of our staff, participation from our corporate partners, and the Pittsburgh Pirates organization that provided us with a division champion ball club for the second year in a row."
After clinching back-to-back International League West Division titles for the first time in franchise history, the Indians then set another team record when 11,327 fans packed the ballpark for Game 3 of the IL playoffs. The Tribe's single-game attendance marked the largest playoff crowd in Victory Field history and featured more patrons than each IL team's combined attendance through their respective first round matchup of the postseason.
Under the stewardship of Burleson, who was voted the International League's Executive of the Year in 2000 and 2013, the Indians have now enjoyed an increase in annual attendance during each of the last four seasons from 2009-13. The Tribe's 9.5-percent increase in average yearly attendance during that span is the largest growth in the International League, while its overall attendance increase of 88,027 fans since 2009 is the largest in all of Triple-A baseball.
"But our most significant contributor was our fans," Burleson continued. "The Indianapolis Indians operate in the best City in America, and last season 637,579 fans celebrated summer at the best Minor League ballpark in America. Our fans were the driving force that enabled us to achieve so many tremendous milestones in 2013, including the highest regular-season attendance in all of Minor League Baseball."
The Tribe has enjoyed tremendous success on the field as well, and with an 80-64 record last season, has posted back-to-back 80-win seasons for the first time since moving to Victory Field in 1996. The reigning back-to-back IL West Division champion Indianapolis Indians are now also set to enter the 2014 campaign in pursuit of a franchise-record third straight division title.
The Indians will host their 2014 regular-season home opener on Thursday, April 10 at 7:05 p.m. against the Toledo Mud Hens, Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. For more information, including a full schedule for the upcoming 2014 season, visit IndyIndians.com.