Wizards earn Midwest League team of the year

For the second consecutive season, the Fort Wayne Wizards baseball team was named the Midwest League's "Team of the Year" and earned the coveted John H. Johson President's Trophy for the best overall franchise, Midwest League President George Spelius announced.

In addition, the team also earned the Midwest League's Larry MacPhail Promotional Trophy for overall team promotions for the second straight year. Wizards General Manager Mike Nutter was named the Midwest League Executive of the Year.

Building on the success of the previous four seasons, the Wizards drew 278,351 fans during the regular season in 2004, the second-best attendance mark in franchise history. The best attendance in 12 seasons for Fort Wayne was the inaugural season in 1993 when 318,506 people entered Memorial Stadium.

The John H. Johnson President' Trophy is awarded to the Midwest League franchise which best exemplifies the standards of a complete baseball franchise, including financial success of an operation, contributions to the community and long-term franchise stability.

"Fort Wayne Wizards baseball continues to focus on the fan," Nutter said. "Each season we try to provide the best entertainment on and off the field. To be recognized by our peers in the Midwest League is a great accomplishment for our staff, for our fans and for the city, along with the surrounding communities."

The Wizards also credit their success to the continued affiliation with the San Diego Padres, along with General Sports and Entertainment, the ownership group of the franchise.

"We receive support from many different avenues," Nutter added. "General Sports has provided us with a great foundation to build on. The Padres, from Kevin Towers (General Manager) to the managers and coaches and the players, are behind our efforts every year."

Fort Wayne is now eligible to receive the National Minor League Baseball "Team of the Year" award. The Wizards will be one of 14 teams representing Minor League Baseball for the national team of the year during the 2004 Winter Meetings in Anaheim, CA in mid-December.

The Larry MacPhail Promotional Trophy is given to the Midwest League franchise that excels in marketing and promotions.

During the 2004 season the Wizards hosted their fifth annual Boy Scout Overnight and Girl Scout Overnight; more than 5,000 fans were on hand for the fourth annual Christian Concert featuring "Big Daddy Weave"; 12 post-game fireworks shows were on display; national entertainment acts such as the Zooperstars, BirdZerk, Myron Noodleman and Jake the Diamond Dog were welcomed at Memorial Stadium and the team continued with unique and creative on-field contests and promotions before and after games and between innings.

The Wizards have also been able to create a fun-family environment at Memorial Stadium with their partnerships with local and national sponsors and with local media outlets from radio and television stations to newspapers.

"Our joint efforts with sponsors and media have allowed us to excel in many areas," said Michael Limmer, Wizards Director of Marketing. "Our success can be attributed to fans, media partners and corporate partners. By combining several different factors, the Wizards have been able to provide a successful operation."

Nutter was named the Midwest League Executive of the Year for the first time in his four seasons as General Manager of the Wizards. Nikki Becker of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers was named the Rawling's Woman Executive of the Year.

"These awards are true signs of our community's support and the efforts of the front office staff," Nutter said. "Everything we plan and accomplish each season is attributed to our fans, General Sports and the Padres. We are excited about being recognized by our Midwest League peers for two seasons. We can take pride in the role that the Wizards play in Fort Wayne and surrounding communities."

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