09/11/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/11/2019 10:13
The St. Paul Saints knew how important year number five was in their beautiful Lowertown ballpark, CHS Field. With even more competition in the Twin Cities than ever before, the Saints knew they needed to step their game up to the next level. They did that with attendance that continues to be well over capacity, a highly successful All-Star Game, a state-of-the-art City of Baseball Museum and brand new SPIRE Sun Deck, promotions that were talked about from coast-to-coast, and a ballpark that continues to be a destination for everything from the Saints to a Cat Video Festival. One man has overseen it all and because of all that continued success Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Derek Sharrer, along with Cleburne Railroaders Director of Operations Josh Robertson, was named American Association Executive of the Year for the fifth straight season.
Sharrer, in his 16th season as General Manager of the Saints, has led a mix of veteran and youthful staff members in 2019 that brought the organization to new heights.
According to Saints Chairman and principal owner, Marv Goldklang, 'Derek continues to set the standard of leadership within the sport, overseeing an atmosphere of innovation and creativity that is unique to the Saints' culture. He is, quite simply, one of the best at what he does, and we're thrilled to have him at the helm. Congratulations once again to Derek and his staff on this well-deserved accolade.'
The Saints led the American Association in attendance for the fifth consecutive season, drawing 394,970. They led the league by nearly 200,000 fans and were over the 7,210 capacity in 40 of the 50 home games. They drew more than 8,000 fans 24 times and more than 9,000 eight times. They set a franchise record with 10,631 on August 13 and for the first time in franchise history had 10,000+ in back-to-back games on August 13 and the 14th,when they drew 10,029.
'With a front office loaded with experience, talent, creativity, energy, and dedication, an ownership group as highly regarded as any in baseball, I'm so fortunate to work with, and for, the best,' said Sharrer. 'To be selected by my peers makes this that much more meaningful and to share this recognition with Josh Robertson is an honor. Congratulations to Josh on a job well done in Cleburne.'
For the second time in four seasons the Saints hosted the American Association All-Star Game. It was highlighted with an incredibly entertaining All-Star Monday that kicked off with a Celebrity softball game featuring Joe Mauer, Adam Thielen, and other Minnesota sports personalities, followed by the Jack Links Home Run Derby and finished off with a concert headlined by Drake White and The Big Fire. On All-Star Tuesday, players, executives and fans enjoyed a luncheon in a uniquely beautiful setting at the Best Jets International Hangar at Holman Field and were treated to an incredible panel discussion by former Saints Darryl Strawberry and Ila Borders and 26-year Major League umpire Tim Tschida. On Tuesday evening the two-day celebration culminated with the game itself which was played in front of a capacity crowd.
While the Saints have reinvested in CHS Field each and every year of its existence, in 2019 Sharrer oversaw the most significant improvement to their spectacular home since the ballpark was opened in 2015. The Saints built the City of Baseball Museum and SPIRE Sun Deck down the left field line which opened up to rave reviews. The City of Baseball Museum is a 2,000 square foot museum that honors the history of baseball in Saint Paul with a focus on the tradition of the St. Paul Saints, which dates back to the late 1800's. The museum has been incredibly well received in its inaugural season having been visited by over 30,000 guests. The SPIRE Sun Deck, located atop the City of Baseball Museum, is a group area that offers amazing views, great food and drink, and that provides the popular downtown rooftop experience inside at CHS Field. With room for up to 200 guests, the Sun Deck quickly became one of the most popular group entertainment spaces in a ballpark that features several.
The Saints continue to be the industry leader with their off-the-wall promotions. All season long the Saints honored their history with a City of Baseball Museum Series giveaway from an 1898 St. Paul Apostles jersey t-shirt, to a 1945 Saints vintage cap, to a Lexington Park pennant. The two most talked about promotions of the season came on June 25 and July 16. On June 25 Saints President and Co-Owner Mike Veeck finally made up with disco. Nearly 30-years to the day that Veeck blew up disco records at Comiskey Park in Chicago, he embraced the disco era with an impassioned pre-game speech and a post-game 20-foot wide disco ball that hung over the right field area as fans joined him in their boogie shoes. On July 16, the Saints honored the 50th Anniversary of the first moon landing. Fans received boxer shorts as they walked through the gates, with the moon on the rear end, and in the bottom of the fifth inning the entire ballpark took part in a ballpark wide 'mooning.'
'I'm obviously predisposed to think Derek is special; the fact that this award comes from his peers makes it much more gratifying than if it came from me,' said Saints President and Co-Owner, Veeck.
CHS Field continued to be the talk of the Twin Cities and Minor League Baseball. The ballpark was used for much more than just Saints games. CHS Field played host to the MIAC (Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference). Once again, CHS Field, hosted several high school Section Tournaments as well as the State High School Baseball Tournament. Additionally, each St. Paul school was provided the opportunity to play a free regular season game at CHS Field. Numerous events were hosted by the ballpark including the Cat Video Festival, Beer Dabbler Craft Beer Festival, Grill Fest, AARP Movie Night, Bacon and Beer Classic, and the Get Lucky 7K races. The Securian Financial Club at CHS Field also played host to various events ranging from civic and community focused gatherings, to corporate meetings and celebrations, to weddings and Bar Mitzvah's. Throughout 2019, CHS Field continued to be St. Paul's front porch.
The Saints continued to solidify their commitment to St. Paul and the greater Twin Cities community by participating in a number of initiatives and supporting hundreds of charitable efforts throughout the season, both out in the community and inside CHS Field. Each week, when the team was home, a player would go to a Saint Paul Public Library for the Reading Tree program, where a local author, and a Saints player, would read from the author's book to promote literacy. One of the biggest events in the area was the United Way Action Day where the Saints, along with numerous organizations, filled 40,000 backpacks that were given to underserved children. The Saints were also a part of Children's Minnesota Star Studio, Sports Bingo. A Saints player appeared on local hospital programming with a co-host from Star Studios named 'The Dude.' The program was broadcast throughout the St. Paul and Minneapolis Children's Minnesota. During the season the Saints, along with their partner Walser Automotive, donated $500 each time the Saints scored five or more runs at home. The two organizations donated $11,500 to Fraser. Also, the Saints and MN Corn Growers teamed up to donate money each time an error was committed by the Saints or their opponent. The organizations donated $5,000 to the MN Bee Lab. The Saints and Cub also teamed up to donate $5 for every Saints hit during the season to the Ronald McDonald House. They donated a total of $4,665.
This is the fifth time Sharrer has won the American Association Executive of the Year Award and the sixth time in his career, winning a similar honor when he was General Manager of the Fort Myers Miracle in 1998.
During Sharrer's tenure with the Saints they have consistently finished at, or near, the top of the league in attendance. In 2006 the Saints were named the inaugural Baseball America Independent League Organization of the Year, for their history of excellence and role as trailblazers in the industry. Additionally, Sharrer was named to the 2007 Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Top 40 under Forty. In 2018 Sharrer was included in Minnesota Magazine's 500 Most Powerful Business Leaders and earlier this year he was named as one of Twin Cities Business Magazine's '100 People You Should Know.'
Sharrer resides in Woodbury with his wife Kandice and two sons Sullivan (16) and Lawson (14).