Congratulations to the Dayton Dragons for winning the John H. Johnson President’s Award, Minor League Baseball’s top honor!
According to Minor League Baseball, the award honors “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. It has been given to a single MiLB team annually since 1974.
More from MiLB’s press release about the award:
The Dragons have sold out a professional record 913 games in a row since they began play in Dayton in 2000. The club broke the record of 814 games held by the NBA Portland Trailblazers from (1977-95) in 2011. Their incredible accomplishment has also allowed the Dragons to establish a new Class A regular season attendance mark on four occasions.
From day one, Dayton has preached “unsurpassed customer service” to their full-time and seasonal employees as a major part of their business philosophy. Preseason and in-season training sessions, known as Dragons University, a customer service committee and employee performance recognition programs are some of the elements that embody this philosophy. The fact that the club’s retention rate of employees has averaged more than 90 percent is a testament to the efforts of the Dragons during their 13 seasons in this southwest Ohio city.
Dayton feels that every game must be a great event and sports entertainment experience. The club spends a great deal of time and resources insuring that fans are entertained from the moment they enter Fifth Third Field to when they exit it. The Dragons use a variety of skits, dance routines, movie clips and scoreboard interaction to make sure the product surrounding the action on the field remains fresh and entertaining.
Mascots Gem and Heater and Roofman, who turns baseballs that get stuck on the roof into softee balls and then gives them to fans, are staples at every home game.
The Dragons impact on the Dayton community is extremely large in scope. Initiatives such as the MVP Program, an educational tool for fourth- and fifth-grade teachers to use to motivate and reward their students; the Hometown Heroes Program honoring military members and their families; and Home Run for Life, where someone who has overcome a significant medical event takes a symbolic home run lap around the bases during a game, interacting with players from both clubs along the way, are just a few of the ways Dayton gives back to its community.
Dayton also hosts several charitable walks, runs and other events at its ballpark throughout the year. They donated to more than 500 groups in the form of money, sponsorships and gifts in-kind. The Dragons made more than 200 player and mascot appearances and 100 speaking engagements this year.
The Dragons also have a concession stand program in place that has given back more than $3.9 million to nonprofits that have volunteered to work the concessions during games.
Fifth Third Field, which received new grass and an irrigation and drainage system before the season, also hosts Cedarville University, Sinclair Community College and high school baseball games, as well as various clinics, including one for mentally challenged children and adults.
This year, the Dragons became the first minor-league club from any sport to be nominated as a finalist for Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal “Team of the Year.”
“The Dayton Dragons epitomize how a Minor League Baseball club should operate, as well as become a cornerstone for the community in which they reside,” Pat O’Conner, President of Minor League Baseball, said. “Their philosophies and business models involving the game-day experience, customer service and local initiatives and events have proven to be rock solid and have really been embraced by the Dayton community.
“The Dragons’ incredible streak of selling out every one of their 913 home games further validates their selection to receive our highest honor, the John H. Johnson President’s Award.”
The Dragons are the third Midwest League club to win the award. The others were the Quad-City Cubs (1980) and Cedar Rapids Kernels (2008).
Dayton is the second Midwest League team to win a major MiLB award this fall. Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers won the prestigious Larry MacPhail Award.