Roll out the red carpet, it’s Golden Bobblehead time again.
The five finalists for the top promotion from the month of May have been announced by Minor League Baseball. The winner qualifies as a finalist for a Golden Bobblehead award, a recognition of promotional greatness awarded after the season at the annual Minor League Baseball Promo Seminar.
This month’s nominees were selected from more than 70 entries and embrace the fun, fan-friendly and community-minded spirit of the sport. Each month, teams can either nominate promotions or events of their own or other teams for the award. The winner qualifies as a finalist for the Promo Seminar held in Des Moines, Iowa, where they will present their promotion before their peers, who will then vote on winners in the following categories:
Best Theme Night
Best In-Game Promotion
Best Non-Gameday Event
Best Community Promotion or Event
Best Digital Campaign or Activation
So, ladies and gentlemen, the nominees for the top promotion in the month of May are . . .
After helping build the Myrtle Beach Pelicans into one of the most creative teams in the minors, Andy Milovich is getting called up to Frisco. The veteran operator will stay within the Chuck Greenberg family of minor league teams and take over as the RoughRiders’ president and general manager.
The RoughRiders welcome industry veteran and creative mastermind, Andy Milovich (@ARMilovich), as the team’s new President and General Manager! #LetsRide
Milovich has served as the Pelicans’ vice president and GM since 2012, following an 18-year run with Palisades Baseball that included overseeing the West Virginia Power and Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Milovich has been the driving force behind Myrtle Beach’s success, whether it be literally taking one for the team by getting a prostate exam during the seventh-inning stretch of a cancer awareness promotion, or streamlining the cross-promotional opportunities between the Pelicans and their big league affiliate Chicago Cubs.
Myrtle Beach won the Baseball America Freitas Award for overall business excellence following the 2015 season. Milovich was named the Carolina League Executive of the Year in 2014.
“Since our ownership group began operating the RoughRiders in August 2014, we have re-invented our ballpark experience, created exciting new ways to connect with our fans and raised the bar in all areas of our business,” said Greenberg, who also owns the State College Spikes of the New York-Penn League. “Today’s announcement of Andy Milovich taking over as our new President and General Manager is the next step in the RoughRiders reaching new heights at the ballpark, in our community and within the baseball industry.”
Milovich joins a talented Frisco front office and will still supervise the operations in Myrtle Beach, which are now led by recently promoted GM Ryan Moore. Jason Dambach remains as Frisco’s executive vice president while assisting the State College franchise.
More details about the move can be found in press releases issued by Myrtle Beach and Frisco.
Chuck Greenberg broke into minor league baseball on April 1, 2001, after completing the purchase of the Altoona Curve. A minor league outsider whose experience in sports grew out of overseeing the sale of his hometown Pittsburgh Penguins to his client and friend Mario Lemieux, Greenberg has grown into one of the most successful and influential owners in minor league baseball.
In the 16 years since his purchase of the Curve, Greenberg has grown his minor league stable by adding the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and State College Spikes in 2006, selling the Curve back to previous owner Bob Lozinak in 2008, and buying the Frisco RoughRiders in 2014. He oversaw the purchase of the Texas Rangers out of bankruptcy court in 2010 and briefly served as team president before resigning due to a dispute with co-owner and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. Greenberg sits on the board of trustees for Minor League Baseball and helped create the Baseball Internet Rights Company (BIRCO).
What follows is my conversation with Greenberg about his path in minor league baseball — which while not traditional, could serve as a blueprint for aspiring owners and executives — as well as his views on the state of the game. The transcript has been edited in spots for length and clarity.
It’s been over 15 years since you broke into minor league baseball. Coming from outside of the sport, what was your inspiration for buying a minor league team?
Ironically, today April 1, is 16 years to the day we closed on the purchase of the Altoona Curve. So, it’s been 16 years today. We had our first game on Thursday, April 4, and it was quite a scramble to get ready. I only brought in two people, Parney [Todd Parnell] and Rick Janac, and we got handed this string of keys and we didn’t know which key opened up the men’s room or anything else. But we figured it out and had a great opener with [former Steeler] Jerome Bettis throwing out the first pitch and it’s been a blast ever since.