FREDERICK, MD-The Frederick Keys are excited to announce they have been named winners of the Carolina League's Complete Franchise Award. This annual award goes to a Carolina League team which demonstrates franchise stability and significant contributions to its community and league. By winning this award, the Keys are also the league's nominee for Minor League Baseball's John H. Johnson President's Award-recognizing the top overall franchise in the MiLB.
"We are honored to be recognized as the Carolina League's Complete Franchise," said Keys General Manager, Dave Ziedelis. "Each year we strive to be more connected with the community and finding different ways to make an impact. Over time we have become part of the fabric of Frederick, while we are proud of our long-standing relationship with the Baltimore Orioles and the Carolina League."
Over the last two seasons, the Keys have raised nearly $35,000 for Frederick Keys Care. The team's fundraising arm, Keys Care assists local non-profits which aid disadvantaged youth and young adults. Since being founded in 1999, the Keys Care Fund has awarded over $60,000 to local youth organizations.
Outside of Keys Care, the Keys were incredibly active with community partners through different programs and community awareness nights this year. Two of the Keys top community programs were Pack the Park and BGE Home Make a Difference Monday. The Pack the Park program helped non-profit organizations raise money through discounted ticket buys and in-park fundraising elements. Those who participated received recognition on a Friday or Saturday night during the season to ensure maximum exposure.
Groups also received a platform for their causes during BGE Home Make a Difference Monday. Organizations talked about their causes on the field before the game and received marketing tables, free tickets, in-game announcements and other elements to promote their work in the community.
Community Awareness Nights are a major part of the Keys promotional schedule on a yearly basis and 2018 was no different. Among the highlights this season were Cancer Awareness Night, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Night, Down Syndrome Awareness Night and Alzheimer's Awareness Night.
Working hand-in-hand with the American Cancer Society, Cancer Awareness Night recognized survivors and remembers those who have passed. All survivors received a ticket to the game and a chance to participate in a pre-game ceremony on the field. Luminaries were sold during the game and a special fireworks show included a montage of photos displayed on the video board of those who have died due to cancer. Keys players and coaches wore special jerseys as well containing names of survivors and those affected by cancer. Jerseys were then auctioned off to raise money for ACS.
Due to Frederick's large deaf population, the Keys work yearly with the Maryland School of the Deaf on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Night. Students from the school put together sign language videos with Keys players and explained how to help the school. Down Syndrome Awareness Night benefited Ava's T21 Foundation and awards were presented to individuals for Outstanding Leadership and Service Excellence. Alzheimer's Awareness Day was also very successful and fans were encouraged to participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer's.
The Keys have long partnered with Frederick County Little League's Challenger Division. This season, players with special needs played a game against Keys players. Youngsters were then encouraged to stay for the Keys game that evening.
The Keys have also enjoyed long-standing relationships with Fort Detrick and the Frederick Arts Council. A U.S. Army Medical Command Installation, Fort Detrick Night honors local military members for their service. Military members received discounted tickets to the game, received a concourse table and were heavily involved in pre-game ceremonies.
Art in the Park Night recognizes Frederick's lively arts scene. Players and Coaches wore jerseys designed by a local artist to benefit the Frederick Arts Council, while players designed baseballs and artists painted scenes from that night's game. This year's event raised close to $3,000.
Working with children is a major part of the Keys community outreach and one of the Keys longest-standing community partners is the Frederick County Public School system. This season, over 1,400 students attended STEM Day at Nymeo Field. Using baseball, students received exposure to the fields of science, technology, engineering and math and interacted with local vendors on the concourse. The Keys also worked with FCPS on a Family Fitness Weekend and Summer Reading (in conjunction with local libraries). In 2018, the Keys distributed nearly 62,000 bookmarks to libraries in seven counties.
The Keys are closely aligned with Nymeo Federal Credit Union. In February 2015, the Keys entered into a seven-year naming rights partnership with Nymeo, an organization that shares the Keys commitment to community involvement and outreach. This partnership has also helped the team make facility additions and renovations ranging from new hospitality areas to a new playing surface and improved field lighting.
To go along with a strong naming rights partner, the Keys stability can be tied directly into strong ownership. For the last 12 seasons, the team has been guided by Maryland Baseball Holdings. A group led by longtime Minor League Baseball executive Ken Young, Ken also owns the Double-A Bowie Baysox, Triple-A Norfolk Tides, Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes and the Double-A Biloxi Shuckers. With more than 30 years as a baseball executive, Ken currently sits on Minor League Baseball's Board of Trustees.
The Keys long-standing relationship with the Baltimore Orioles is a point of pride as well. Since the team's founding in 1989, the Keys have been a member of Birdland. It ranks as the longest relationship between an affiliate and its parent club in the Carolina League. To go with this, the Orioles relationship with the Keys is Baltimore's longest with any affiliate club. It will carry over through the 2020 season, as Frederick signed a two-year player development extension this summer.
The Frederick Keys will host the Carolina League All-Star Game in 2019. Next season's schedule is available by clicking here, while fans can buy/renew ticket plans for the 2019 season by calling 301-815-9900. For more details about the 2019 season, fans can visit frederickkeys.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.