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Rawhide honored as league's top club10/17/2012 3:20 PM ET
The Visalia Rawhide is the Cal League's Organization of the Year as they set franchise attendance and revenue records for the fourth consecutive season and has seen a 91 percent increase in attendance since 2006. Despite missing the playoffs for a 5th straight year, the Rawhide continue to strengthen through dedication, passion, and continual reinvestment.
Visalia recognized six Cal League greats, from umpire Doug Harvey to Kirby Puckett, at a hotstove banquet and installed Cooperstown-caliber bronze sculptured plaques of each inductee at the ballpark, as well as creating a walking timeline around the grandstand concourse, featuring the great players and moments from 65 years of California League Baseball.
The Rawhide hosted the most non-Rawhide baseball events in its history including IrishFest and Oktoberfest, TNA Professional Wrestling, a high school prom, wedding receptions, and the East vs. West High School All-Star Game. Known for programs both in stadium and in the community, the Rawhide created a new signature fundraiser with Home Runs 4 HEART and has helped raise over $80,000 for gang-prevention afterschool programs. In 2012, the Rawhide championed another fundraiser for Olly Ajluni who has Histiocytosis, a rare disease, and raised over $10,000 for Olly and his family. Every staff member of the Rawhide belongs to at least one service club. The Rawhide Baseball Foundation for Kids gave over $50,000 in 2012 for youth educational and fitness initiatives.
In 2012, the Rawhide signed the first 4-year affiliate agreement in their history, extending the relationship with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Visalia is the Cal League's nomination for the John H Johnson award given to the top organization in Minor League Baseball.
The San Jose Giants won the award for Excellence in Marketing and Promotions in 2012. With a mix of community-centered events and exciting theme nights, the San Jose Giants saw their fourth straight season with more than 200,000 fans coming through the Municipal Stadium gates in 2012. The team also set all-time records in every major revenue category, while the park packer program raised over $300,000 for local organizations. The Giants received media coverage from national outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Baseball America and HBO Real Sports.
Fan-favorite nights such as Breast Cancer Awareness Night, Salute to the Military Night and Italian Night allowed fans to bid on game-worn and autographed jerseys to benefit local organizations. Strikeout Violence Night, with country recording artist Matt Kennon, focused on an anti-bullying message as students and administrators from around the area attended the event. Then, after a 92 year-old great-grandmother caught a foul ball barehanded, the team received national media attention as they welcomed her back to Municipal Stadium for a chance to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The team launched their iPhone and Android App, allowing fans to keep up with the team and listen to every broadcast on their mobile phones. The organization remains the league leader in Facebook fans and Twitter followers, while also owning the league's only broadcast television contract. They were the only Class A organization to have all home games broadcast on MiLB.TV and one of two California League teams to launch Gameday technology. "The Road to the Show."
The organization continued their commitment to being a pillar in the Silicon Valley community. Gigante, the Giants mascot, remained the team's chief ambassador, leading the organization's community outreach program. He made over 150 appearances during the season, highlighted by a visit with the entire team to the pediatric ward at a local hospital. The team also distributed over 1,000 in-kind donations to local non-profits, schools and charities.
The Giants will represent the Cal League in Minor League Baseball's Larry MacPhail award given to the team with the best Marketing and Promotional ideas.
In his sixth season as President and General Manager of the Visalia Rawhide, Tom Seidler is the California League Executive of the Year. Under Seilder's direction, the Rawhide set an all-time franchise attendance record in 2012 - for the fourth straight year. Promotional highlights for Rawhide fans included Grandma Beauty Pageant, Helicopter Candy Drop, and Boot Mug Saturdays.
Seidler's family ownership has invested more than $500,000 in improvements to the City-owned ballpark, including a wiffle-ball field, a new party deck for families, and a new batting cage for the players this year. Seidler has brought stability to the Visalia franchise, in everything from the front office to the new four-year affiliation extension with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The community which almost lost baseball several times between the mid-80's and early 2000's, now supports it in record numbers and provides host families for a remarkable 100% of players and coaches.
Seidler serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committees for the Visalia Chamber of Commerce, the Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Pro Youth after-school and gang prevention program.
As the only female GM in the League during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Bakersfield Blaze GM, Elizabeth Martin, is the winner of the Woman of Excellence award for the California League.
In a field dominated by men, she has been a role model for the other women working in the Blaze office, as well as the other hard working women in the California League. Being the only girl in the clubhouse can be a test of patience, as overcoming the prejudices of women in sports can be a long process, but Martin handles it well. Using her vast experience in many different aspects of the sports industry, as well as her law degree, extensive knowledge of sports, and intelligence, Martin makes the fact that she is female irrelevant.
There is an old saying that goes, "A woman has to work twice as hard as a man, to get half the credit." Whether that is true or not does not matter to Elizabeth Martin, as she work as hard as anybody, male or female, to reach her goals, which are often lofty, yet attainable. As the head of the Bakersfield Blaze organization, Liz has proven that she is one of the hardest working people in baseball, and if the saying is true, is probably working four times as hard.
By winning the award, Martin is in the running for the Rawlings Woman of the Year Award presented by Minor League Baseball to the nation's top female executive.
"The winners of these four prestigious League Awards were voted by their peers in the league, and they have all been submitted as the Cal League's Nominees for National Honors to be awarded at Baseball's Winter Meetings in December," Cal League President Charlie Blaney said. "The Cal League is very proud of our four winners."