BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset Patriots have been recognized by the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball with the Ken Shepard Award for Promotional Excellence, the league announced Wednesday. Additionally, the Patriots have been awarded the league’s Promotion of the Year for hosting the 2017 Atlantic League All-Star Game.
The 2017 season marked the first time in franchise history that the Somerset Patriots led the Atlantic League in both total attendance (355,256) and average attendance (5,224 per game). The year featured many unique promotions that drove attendance and entertained fans, including two different teacher appreciation nights, most improved students nights, appearances from Beauty and the Beast, Minions, Spiderman, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ballpark Comic Con, along with 21 displays of the best fireworks in New Jersey.
The season came to an exclamation point on Friday, Sept.22nd when the Patriots set a new Atlantic League postseason attendance record of 8,131 fans for game three of the Liberty Division Championship Series. It broke the league’s previous record of 7,647 fans, set by the Patriots in 2015.
Additionally, the team's use of their various social media platforms, video production and highly successful mobile app helped the Patriots keep their fans engaged all year long.
In the middle of July, league executives, front office members, players, coaches, family and fans converged in central New Jersey for the league’s 20th All-Star Game. The festivities were kicked off with a memorable evening at the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse Station for the All-Star Gala. The night included player recognition, food and drink, two hot air balloons, an appearance from George Washington and a re-enacting of the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.
The All-Star Game was hosted at TD Bank Ballpark the following day to a massive turnout of fans along with a highly-successful Revolutionary War theme. Crossroads of the American Revolution helped re-create a Revolutionary War campsite and atmosphere both inside and outside the ballpark.
The voice of the New York Yankees John Sterling hosted the Home Run Derby and Tony-nominated and Emmy Award-winner Liz Callaway performed the National Anthem before the game, while BirdZerk and the ZOOperstars entertained fans during the game. After the final out was recorded, the 8,175 fans in attendance were treated to the biggest fireworks display in the ballpark’s history.
The award for promotional excellence 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 nack for promotions that helped increase attendance and fan experience.
This year’s Joe Klein Executive of the Year award recipient is Jay Miller, the president of the Sugar Land Skeeters. The award takes on extra meaning this year with Klein’s passing earlier this year. Klein’s work in baseball spanned over six decades. He served as the executive director of the Atlantic League from its inception in 1998 until his passing and is survived by his sons J.K and Todd, daughter-in-laws Ruth and Robin, and granddaughter Hannah.
The Somerset Patriots recently completed their 20th Season anniversary in which they led the Atlantic League in attendance and made their 14th appearance in the playoffs. The Somerset Patriots will welcome their 7,000,000th fan in their 20th season at TD Bank Ballpark in 2018. For more information about the 2018 season, please visit www.somersetpatriots.com.