Wizards- Midwest Team of the Year

Fort Wayne, IN - The Fort Wayne Wizards baseball team learned today that they have been recognized as the Midwest League's "Team of the Year" as announced by Midwest League President, George Spelius. The Wizards were awarded the John H. Johnson President's Trophy for the best overall baseball franchise and also received the Larry MacPhail Promotional Trophy for best team promotions.

Mike Nutter, General Manager of the Fort Wayne Wizards, was excited about today's announcement. "The focus of Wizards Baseball in Fort Wayne is always on the fan. We try our best every year, every homestand, every game to provide the best entertainment and product for our fans - to be recognized for those efforts by the other teams in the league is very gratifying. It says a lot about the hard work and dedication of the entire front office staff. This truly is a team award and we are proud to be recognized for the kind of product that we provide for our fans."

The John H. Johnson President's Trophy is awarded to the Midwest League franchise that best exemplifies the standards of the complete baseball franchise, such as financial success of operation, contributions to baseball in the community and baseball industry and long-term franchise stability. The Wizards ability to increase attendance each of the past four seasons was one of many reasons the Wizards were recognized. "Our attendance was over 260,000 during the 2003 season and it was the fourth season in a row that our numbers keep going up. Not many teams have had this continued level of success. It is a sign of the community's support and a sign of the efforts of our front office staff.", said Mike Nutter. "This award really measures a wide variety of the aspects of a Minor League Baseball team franchise. From Boy Scout campouts on the field to financial stability, from Little League fundraisers to community outreach programs this award really encompasses everything that the Wizards pride ourselves in doing. We receive support from so many areas. The Wizards ownership, General Sports and Entertainment, is behind everything that we are trying to do here in Fort Wayne. They really create an environment for our franchise to succeed." The Wizards partnership with Major League affiliate, the San Diego Padres, was also credited to the team's success. "After five seasons with the Padres, they really know what we are trying to accomplish. The entire organization from General Manager Kevin Towers, the managers, coaches and the players, they all understand what we are trying to do and are behind us 100%."

The Wizards also accepted the Larry MacPhail Promotional Trophy which is given to the Midwest League franchise that has done the best job in the area of marketing and promotions. "When you have fans that are as excited to come to the ballpark as the fans in this area are, it makes the promotions that much more fun.", said Wizards Director of Marketing, Michael Limmer. The Larry MacPhail Promotional Trophy is given to the team that best uses the promotions that are unique to Minor League Baseball. "Everything that we do is focused on promotion and we try to include and engage the fans as much as possible." The Wizards put on 14 fireworks shows in 2003 and welcomed national entertainment such as the ZOOperstars, BirdZerk and Myron Noodleman. The Wizards unique on-field promotions and creative partnerships with local media also contributed to the award. "The Wizards have great relationships with our local media outlets. Radio, Television and Newspaper partnerships allow the Wizards a chance to do some great promotions involving thousands of fans. This award is given to the Wizards, but the success of the team can be attributed to the fans, to our community partners and our corporate sponsors. Without those elements, the Wizards have no chance to be a success.", said Limmer.

Being awarded the Midwest League John H. Johnson President's Trophy makes the Fort Wayne Wizards eligible to be named the National Minor League Baseball "Team of the Year". The Wizards will be one of fourteen teams representing each league in Minor League Baseball for the award given later in the year. When asked of the Wizards chances, General Manager Mike Nutter had this to say, "Being recognized by a group of teams as successful as those in the Midwest League is a tremendous honor, but the chance to be recognized by the entire industry of Minor League Baseball would be a very distinguished honor for this franchise. It would be a sign of the strong support this community has for this team."

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