BRIDGEWATER, NJ – The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball has selected the Somerset Patriots for the Ken Shepard Award For Promotional Excellence and the Ray Cipperly Award For Excellence In Groundskeeping for the 2019 season.
For the third straight year, the Somerset Patriots have been honored with the Ken Shepard Award, which is presented to the club that demonstrates extraordinary promotional impact throughout the Atlantic League season, creating a reputation of event marketing excellence.
The team’s promotional efforts were highlighted by the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Series Champion New York Mets on June 9th and featured appearances by Miracle Mets Art Shamsky, Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, and Ron Swoboda.
The team held a special event for the 30th Anniversary of the movie Major League with film star Corbin Bernsen, welcomed WWE Hall of Famer “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, celebrated the Super Bowl XXV Champion New York Giants with OJ Anderson and Stephen Baker, and honored the Elmora Troopers at the ballpark immediately following their Little League World Series run.
The Somerset Patriots surprised fans with an appearance by American Idol finalist Jax as part of a promotion with The Masked Singer. In September, Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns caught his father’s first pitch as part of a special event at the ballpark.
In addition to these promotions, the Somerset Patriots honored veterans, first responders, positive coaches, teachers and students with their own nights at the ballpark.
The Somerset Patriots’ use of social media, video production, and their very popular mobile app, kept fans engaged with the team throughout the year. The Somerset Patriots introduced a partnership with DASH Auction that provided numerous charitable jersey auctions that helped raise over $20,000 for non-profits supported by the team.
The Somerset Patriots were also in a leadership role in the groundbreaking partnership between the Atlantic League and Major League Baseball. The team was featured in The Wall Street Journal, CBS Sports, The Today Show, CNET, The Sporting News, and will be the focus of an upcoming segment on HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel.
A viral video of broadcaster Marc Schwartz calling play-by-play of catching a foul ball in his radio booth without skipping a beat was seen by millions around the world and appeared in just about every major news outlet. Highlights of the clip’s reach included MLB broadcasts, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and an on camera interview on SportsCenter.
The promotional award is named after the late Ken Shepard, who worked in baseball for nearly 30 years – including two as the general manager of the Bridgeport Bluefish – before he passed away in 2014. He made a name for himself wherever he worked for his unique knack for promotions that helped increase attendance and fan experience.
The Ray Cipperly Award For Excellence In Groundskeeping has been presented to Somerset’s head groundskeeper Dan Purner and his groundscrew.
Purner has been with the Somerset Patriots since 2006 and the head groundskeeper at TD Bank Ballpark since 2011. Under his care, the playing field has continued its reputation as one of the best in all of baseball. Purner’s year-round efforts have made the design, upkeep, and play of the field to be one of Major League quality to all that view it and compete on it.
This is the first time Purner has been bestowed with the honor named in the memory of his mentor and predecessor in the position. Cipperly served as the head groundskeeper in Somerset from 1999 through the 2010 season and was known throughout the industry for his work with playing fields. He passed away in 2015 and the Atlantic League renamed the groundskeeper award in his honor the following year.
The Somerset Patriots will be back in action on Friday, May 1st for Opening Day at TD Bank Ballpark. Stay up to date on all the team news throughout the offseason online; on all of our social media platforms, and on our mobile app. For more information, visit www.somersetpatriots.com.