BILOXI, MS - In a season marked by several on-field accomplishments in the third year of Minor League Baseball on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Biloxi Shuckers are most proud of their various community outreach efforts. From theme nights to jersey auctions, the Shuckers have made a financial and symbolic impact on their community throughout the 2017 season.
The Shuckers were nominated by the Minor League Baseball Community as a finalist for a prestigious "Golden Bobblehead" award for the "Best Community Promotion or Event" after helping with the Hattiesburg/Petal tornado relief efforts and William Carey vs. Biloxi Shuckers exhibition game. Shuckers' employees traveled to Petal, Mississippi to assist cleanup crews. The tornado caused damage to the campus of nearby William Carey University, so the Shuckers scheduled a benefit exhibition game against the school's baseball team before the first road trip of the season. The game raised $6,090 for the university's tornado recovery efforts. This effort coupled with numerous other initiatives garnered the recognition.
In addition to the recognition by Minor League Baseball, the Shuckers were also a finalist for the Southern League's Community Service Award.
Shuckers' front office members laid the groundwork for a successful season with several other community initiatives. Employees laid sod at an athletic complex in Moss Point, Mississippi to revitalize the area's youth baseball program.
In partnership with Walmart, the inaugural Shuckers "Hit the Books" reading program brought Schooner the Seagull to 17 schools and over 10,000 students to incentivize reading with Shuckers tickets as a reward.
Since their inception, the Shuckers have had a strong relationship with nearby Keesler Air Force Base and the substantial military presence on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. That trend continued in 2017, as every Monday became "Military Monday" with special discounts for active and retired members of the armed forces. Special camouflage jerseys, worn every Monday and designed with input from Keesler staff, and were auctioned off at the end of the season with proceeds benefiting local military causes.
Throughout the season, the Shuckers have partnered with several charitable organizations to raise money and awareness for deserving local causes. Three additional jersey auctions earlier this season have brought in money for the March of Dimes, Mississippi Center for Autism, and Favre4Hope breast cancer research.
The Shuckers have also hosted a Christmas in July toy drive for the Uplift Foundation, Seatbelt Safety night for the K&J Foundation (started by team photographer Brian Pearse), and Skin Cancer Awareness night in partnership with the MiLB Charities Sun Safety Initiative.
Youth outreach was not limited to the "Hit the Books" program. The Shuckers turned their two "Education Day" games into vocational field trips, with visits from Biloxi Fire and Police, NASA, the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, Department of Marine Resources, University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, and Mississippi State University's Coastal Research Extension.
Former New York Mets catcher and Biloxi native Barry Lyons was formally invited into the Shuckers organization as an ambassador prior to the 2017 season, and the team assisted him in the creation of the first series of Shuckers Kids Clinics for local youth. In addition, the "Field of Dreams" program allowed more than 100 young baseball and softball players from the area to take the field alongside Shuckers players for the national anthem.
In partnership with the Knights of Columbus, the Biloxi Shuckers collected 765 lbs of food/product during a food drive on Sunday, July 30th for them to distribute in the community.
In addition to these widespread efforts, the Shuckers have also made numerous player and mascot appearances in the community over the course of the season. The Shuckers in-kind donations and in-stadium fundraising initiatives have raised $155,455.91 for over 100 charitable organizations. The Biloxi Shuckers understand the responsibility that comes with their platform in the community and are determined to make a positive impact on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
In addition to monetary contributions, the Biloxi Shuckers front office staff have logged 265 community volunteer hours thus far in 2017. Those hours have been spent working with area schools, NCBC's Child Development Center, Humane Society of South Mississippi, VA Medical Center, Loaves and Fishes and cleanup efforts from Hurricane Harvey.
The Shuckers open up their 2018 season on the road at Montgomery before their home opener against Mississippi on April 11. More information on the fourth season of Biloxi Shuckers baseball will be available at biloxishuckers.com as the offseason progresses.
ABOUT THE BILOXI SHUCKERS: The Biloxi Shuckers are the Double-A Southern League Affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Shuckers play at MGM Park in Biloxi, Mississippi. For more information please visit biloxishuckers.com and follow us on Twitter @biloxishuckers and at facebook.com/biloxishuckers.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.