RICHMOND, Va. - The Richmond Flying Squirrels have been selected as the Eastern League's nominee for the John H. Johnson President's Award, Minor League Baseball's top honor, as announced by the league on Thursday morning.
The John H. Johnson President's Award is presented annually "to honor the complete baseball franchise - based on franchise stability, contributions to the league, contributions to baseball in the community and promotion of the baseball industry." The winner of the award will be announced at the Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego in December.
"We are honored to be the Eastern League nominee for this prestigious award and we love representing the Richmond region in everything that we do, 12 months a year," Flying Squirrels VP & COO Todd "Parney" Parnell said. "It has been a wonderful love affair with RVA for ten years and we look forward to the future."
The Flying Squirrels celebrated the team's landmark 10th Season in 2019. Over the last decade, the franchise has cemented itself in the hearts of the Richmond community through three founding pillars: Be impactful, be different and have "funn." The Flying Squirrels have become a model franchise in Minor League Baseball through its innovative promotions, a unique approach to family entertainment and community-oriented projects.
The team's mascots, Nutzy and Nutasha, make more than 500 appearances annually, including numerous parades, festivals and school programs. Flying Squirrels players and front office staff spend hours throughout the year volunteering with several community-based and non-profit organizations.
The organization launched Flying Squirrels Charities in 2014, a 501(C)(3) dedicated to improving lives in the Richmond community, which conducts initiatives including "Renovating Richmond's Recreation," a community project aimed at renovating youth baseball facilities. Alongside partners throughout Richmond, Flying Squirrels Charities raises funds through numerous events, including the Charity Hot Stove Banquet, the Turn Left Golf Classic and Nutzy's Rotary Funn Run.
In 2019, the Flying Squirrels led the Eastern League with an average of 6,255 fans per game, which was the most for any Eastern League team since the Flying Squirrels' league-best total in 2014. On the year, 400,321 fans filled the seats at The Diamond, the most for the Flying Squirrels since 2015. The team has ranked first or second in the league in total or average attendance in all 10 seasons. Richmond fans also helped continue the team's tradition of selling out their Opening Night game with a franchise-record-tying 9,845 in the ballpark on April 4.
The Flying Squirrels embarked on an unprecedented four-day extravaganza during the Eastern League All-Star Week presented by Genworth from July 7-10. On July 9, the Flying Squirrels welcomed 7,112 fans for the Eastern League Celebrity Home Run Derby, which included appearances by stars from around the sports and entertainment worlds. The Eastern League All-Star Game on July 10 drew a sold-out crowd of 9,560 fans, the highest attendance on record for the event, and was televised live in markets across the East Coast.
In an effort to extend the impact of All-Star Week beyond the four days in July, the Flying Squirrels partnered with Genworth to create the All-Star Legacy Fund, which honors an area student-athlete committed to improving his or her community with a $5,000 renewable scholarship. Additional funds from the All-Star Legacy Fund support the United Way, Feed More and Flying Squirrels Charities.
The Flying Squirrels launched their Copa de la Diversión initiative in 2019, transforming to Las Ardillas Voladoras for each Friday home game. The initiative strived to build outreach into the LatinX and Hispanic communities throughout the Richmond region. For each of the games, team donned their lucha libre-inspired green and blue logo and uniform set designed by Flying Squirrels' Creative Services & Production Manager Nick Elder, a design that received national acclaim. The ballpark experience at The Diamond on the Copa de la Diversión nights included LatinX and Hispanic pregame entertainment, themed in-game contests, music, appearances, giveaways and more. The Ardillas Voladoras initiative included partnerships with the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Hispanic Foundation, among others.
As part of the team's 10th Season celebration, the Flying Squirrels rolled out a promotional schedule filled with nods to the franchise's first decade, with giveaways and promotions centered around notable past players and memorable past promotions.
The Flying Squirrels strive to continue building their proud relationship with the Richmond region 365 days per year, spanning beyond the 70 home games each spring and summer. Fans will see the Flying Squirrels organization throughout the offseason months, and the 11th season opens at The Diamond on April 16, 2020.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.