The Frederick Keys, Advanced-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, have been named the Carolina League's nominee for the Larry McPhail Award.
The McPhail Award is given to the team that best demonstrates outstanding and creative marketing efforts within its community, its ballpark (including non-game day events), in media and other promotional materials. Each minor league baseball league is represented with a nominee and the winner is chosen at the 2013 Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL.
In 2013, the Keys attendance reached 324,311, which was the highest for all of Advanced-A baseball. The mark was also a high for the Keys since the 1994 season. In the last two seasons, Keys in-house attendance has risen by 21.9 percent.
The Keys have grown its charitable giving exponentially in the past three seasons growing funds for its charity "Keys Care" along with involving many more non-profits in fundraising through Keys baseball.
This year, Keys Care donated funds to the Delaplaine Visual Arts Center, Housing Authority of the City of Frederick, The Boys and Girls Club of Frederick County and Maryland Shakespeare Festival.
Frederick also started a fundraising program called "Pack the Park" Fundraisers. This allowed the Keys to help raise more money for local non-profits than they had done in previous seasons. 24 non-profits participated in the program which raised more than $40,000 for local charities over the course of the season.
The Keys also team with local non-profits to help man their concession stands. In 2013 groups raised close to $100,000 by doing so. The Keys also had special targeted charitable events such as Art in the Park to benefit the Frederick Arts Council, Safe at Home Night for the Heartly House and Cancer Awareness Night for the American Cancer Society.
Programs targeted at providing educational or fundraising for local schools was also a target of the Keys.
The Keys for Reading program, in its 18th year, is operated in eight counties and reaches more than 80,000 elementary school students a year in the Frederick region. The program has students read three books outside of class at their reading level over the course of a month for a free Keys ticket.
In Frederick County all elementary school students also participate in a week-long Family Fitness Challenge which can earn them a free ticket. Students, outside of school hours, must play outside for an hour a day. By doing so they get a free ticket to a Keys game. Activities during the Family Fitness Weekend at Harry Grove Stadium included a t-shirt giveaway, 1K Fun Run and special Zumba session post-game.
Frederick has also reached out to an older age group as well within the school system. In 2013, the Keys hosted History Day, an educational day for middle school students. Eight different historical groups participate as students get a worksheet to complete as they walk around the booths at the stadium.
The Keys also started hosting local high school bands who played their show in the outfield prior to a game while raising money for their band efforts through ticket sales. All-in-all four of the ten high schools in Frederick County participated in the first year of the program.
Famous local personalities helped draw attendance to Harry Grove Stadium in 2013 with many special autograph signing events over the course of the season. Washington Redskins great Joe Jacoby, Baltimore Orioles great Boog Powell, Wrestling legend Sgt. Slaughter, Washington Capitals great Peter Bondra and ESPN TV Analyst Tim Kurkjian all were featured at Keys games last year.
The Keys also brought the crazy acts of Man on Fire and the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo to Harry Grove Stadium. The Cowboy Monkey Rodeo drew the third largest Keys crowd in the last nine seasons.
Frederick also gained honors from minor league baseball being one of only four teams nominated for two Golden Bobblehead awards. The Keys were nominated for Best Promotion with their Clue Night in which the Keys hosted a mascot murder mystery to the theme of the famous board game. Also nominated was the Keysfest/Egg Hunt which drew 6,000 fans. The Keys teamed with local kids-oriented group Tots2tweens to promote. The event was up for Best Non-GameDay Event.
The Keys also drew crowds with special bobblehead nights that included former Keys Dylan Bundy (2012) and Manny Machado (2013). ESPN TV Analyst Tim Kurkjian also had a bobblehead in his likeness on the evening he signed autographs for Keys fans.
2014 Ticket Packages are available. Contact the Keys Groups Office at 301-815-9900 to purchase season or partial season ticket plans. For more info on ticket plans head to frederickkeys.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.