Vancouver to receive MiLB's top honor at Winter Meetings
By Minor League Baseball | November 4, 2013 9:00 AM
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Minor League Baseball™ announced today that the Vancouver Canadians are the winners of the 40th annual John H. Johnson President's Award. The Canadians will receive Minor League Baseball's top honor at the Baseball Winter Meetings™ Banquet at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, Dec. 12.
The John H. Johnson President's Award has been annually presented since 1974 to honor the complete baseball franchise. The award's criteria are based on franchise stability, contributions to league stability, contributions to baseball in the community and promotion of the baseball industry. The Vancouver Canadians join the Eugene Emeralds (2001) as the only Northwest League clubs to win the John H. Johnson President's Award. Vancouver is also just the second club from outside the United States (Mexico City, 1976) and the fifth Short Season-A™ or Rookie® League club to be selected as a President's Award honoree.
The Canadians attracted 184,042 fans this season, breaking their club regular season attendance record for the fifth straight year. Vancouver sold out 23 of its 38 home games on its way to drawing nearly 20,000 more fans than it did in 2012. On the field, the Canadians won their third consecutive Northwest League championship.
Jake Kerr and Jeff Mooney, a pair of Canadian-born, community-minded businessmen, purchased the club in 2007. Since then, the duo, along with Co-Owner and Team President Andy Dunn, has succeeded in making the Canadians the premier summer sports entertainment experience in Vancouver. Shortly after Kerr and Mooney assumed ownership, the Canadians and the City of Vancouver announced a 25 year commitment to Nat Bailey Stadium as a long term home for baseball.
The ballpark has undergone several restorations and upgrading projects in recent years, including a complete redesigning of its inner concourse, the installation of a Bud Kerr Baseball Museum, a Wall of Fame tribute to those who have played there and historical murals on its exterior painted by a local artist.
The Vancouver Canadians contributions to their community are numerous, spearheaded by their efforts through their Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation. Since 2010, when the foundation was formed, the club has strived to give local children with families experiencing hard times the chance to enjoy and learn from the game of baseball.
Last year, the Vancouver Canadians Foundation Little League began. More than 600 children have been given the opportunity to play baseball in an eight-week league at Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium, as a result. The Canadians, and some of their business partners, transport, equip, feed, coach and mentor the children in this league and support it at a cost of more than $100,000.
Other community initiatives include partnerships with more than 20 organizations, such as Challenger Baseball, the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds baseball program and a Strike Out Heart Disease campaign with a local hospital. The Canadians also donated nearly 5,000 tickets this season to non-profit groups and organizations like Kids Up Front to either help them raise money for their cause or to allow children the chance to attend a game that otherwise wouldn't have had an opportunity to do so. Team mascot, Bob Brown Bear, and club officials made more than 100 appearances and speaking engagements in the community.
Dunn led the Northwest League in negotiations for the construction and lease of a new stadium in Hillsboro, Ore., that the Yakima club relocated to after the 2012 season. The 2012 Northwest League Executive of the Year also served on the circuit's presidential search committee to replace retiring Northwest League President Bob Richmond.
"Minor League Baseball in Vancouver has experienced a renaissance, thanks to the efforts of the Canadians over the last several years," Pat O'Conner, President & CEO of Minor League Baseball, said. "The stability of the ownership group and the leadership and resources that Jake, Jeff and Andy provide to General Manager Jason Takefman and his staff allow the Canadians to accomplish everything that our clubs strive to become in their respective communities. They are truly worthy of becoming just the second international club to be presented with our highest honor, the John H. Johnson President's Award."
"On behalf of the entire Vancouver Canadians organization, we are extremely proud and humbled to be presented with the 2013 John H. Johnson President's Award," Dunn stated.
"This award would never have been possible without the dedication and unwavering support of so many.
"First off, to our dedicated front office and all of our incredible game day employees. They work so hard and sacrifice so much to ensure that each and every fan that leaves our ballpark nightly with both smiles and great memories.
"Our incredible fans from Vancouver and throughout the lower mainland to all across the great country of Canada. We cannot thank you enough for your constant support of our organization.
"Obviously, our great friends and partners, Paul Beeston and everyone with the Toronto Blue Jays, our fellow clubs in the Northwest League and the valuable assistance we receive from Pat O'Conner and the wonderful staff at the Minor League Baseball office.
"Last, but most importantly, our ownership team of Jake Kerr and Jeff Mooney. They are without a doubt the finest ownership group in sports and a model for others to follow. They both undertook this opportunity years ago for the right reasons and that was to give everyone an organization we can all be proud of. Without their vision and dedication this award would never have been possible."