Hundreds of sports executives from across the country gathered in Birmingham, Alabama last week to share best practices and exchange ideas at the Minor League Baseball Promotion Seminar. The seminar concluded with the presentations of the Annual Golden Bobblehead Awards. The awards are presented for the best promotions in Minor League Baseball for that given year in four separate categories and one overall best promotion, voted on by Minor League Baseball. The Eugene Emeralds were honored to have won the Best Community Promotion and Best Overall Promotion for their work with Children's Miracle Network and Honorary Player Hayden Kumle.
Before the season even started, the Emeralds offered seven-year old Hayden a one-year deal as the Emeralds Honarary Player. Hayden is the Miracle Child selected to represent the state of Oregon as the Children's Miracle Network Champion/Ambassador. As the honorary player, Hayden received his own custom jersey and joined the team throughout the season in the locker room, on the field and in the dugout. He also had his own trading card in the team set.
"Hayden really became a member of the team," said Anne Culhane, Director of Community Relations for the Emeralds. "It was amazing to watch how the whole team really embraced him from the very beginning of the season, from the players and coaches to the front office and even the fans."
Hayden became a staple at PK Park this past summer. Throughout the season Hayden could be seen on the field warming up with the players, lining up to start the game, helping Field Manager Jesus Feliciano on the field and hanging out in the dugout and bullpen.
This was the Emeralds fourth nomination for a Golden Bobblehead. Previously the Emeralds had received recognition for the Embrace Bald theme night and the Sasquatch Throwdown. The team won the Best In-Game Promotion in 2014 for the Dutch Bro Selfie Cam and in 2011 for Best Community Promotion for Levi's Cut-Off For a Cause. This is the first time the team won the Best Overall Promotion Award.
"This program with Hayden was one of the most rewarding and gratifying projects I have been a part of in my career," said Allan Benavides, General Manager of the Emeralds. "Winning two bobbleheads were just icing on the cake of what already has been a banner year for the Ems. I hope that by sharing this project with other minor league teams will encourage them to find their own Hayden and help make a difference in a family's life."
The Emeralds would like to give a special thank you to Children's Miracle Network at Sacred Heart Medical Center - RiverBend for introducing them to Hayden and his family. And a huge thank you to the Kumle family for not only trusting the team with their son, but their story as well.
You can watch Hayden's 2016 Season Story here.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.