Somerset Patriots Honored By Atlantic League

PromotionWebSlide2Bridgewater, NJ – The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball has selected the Somerset Patriots for the Ken Shepard Award For Promotional Excellence and the Ray Cipperly Award For Groundskeeping Excellence for the 2019 season.

For the third straight year, the Somerset Patriots have been honored with the Ken Shepard Award, which is presented to the club that demonstrates extraordinary promotional impact throughout the Atlantic League season, creating a reputation of event marketing excellence.

The team’s promotional efforts were highlighted by the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Series Champion New York Mets on June 9th and featured appearances by Miracle Mets Art Shamsky, Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, and Ron Swoboda.

The team held a special event for the 30th Anniversary of the movie Major League with film star Corbin Bernsen, welcomed WWE Hall of Famer “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, celebrated the Super Bowl XXV Champion New York Giants with OJ Anderson and Stephen Baker, and honored the Elmora Troopers at the ballpark immediately following their Little League World Series run.

The Somerset Patriots surprised fans with an appearance by American Idol finalist Jax as part of a promotion with The Masked Singer. In September, Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns caught his father’s first pitch as part of a special event at the ballpark.

In addition to these promotions, the Somerset Patriots honored veterans, first responders, positive coaches, teachers and students with their own nights at the ballpark.

The Somerset Patriots’ use of social media, video production, and their very popular mobile app, kept fans engaged with the team throughout the year. The Somerset Patriots introduced a partnership with DASH Auction that provided numerous charitable jersey auctions that helped raise over $20,000 for non-profits supported by the team.

The Somerset Patriots were also in a leadership role in the groundbreaking partnership between the Atlantic League and Major League Baseball. The team was featured in The Wall Street Journal, CBS Sports, The Today Show, CNET, The Sporting News, and will be the focus of an upcoming segment on HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel.

A viral video of broadcaster Marc Schwartz calling play-by-play of catching a foul ball in his radio booth without skipping a beat was seen by millions around the world and appeared in just about every major news outlet. Highlights of the clip’s reach included MLB broadcasts, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and an on camera interview on SportsCenter.

The promotional award is named after the late Ken Shepard, who worked in baseball for nearly 30 years – including two as the general manager of the Bridgeport Bluefish – before he passed away in 2014. He made a name for himself wherever he worked for his unique knack for promotions that helped increase attendance and fan experience.

The Ray Cipperly Award For Groundskeeping Excellence has been presented to Somerset’s head groundskeeper Dan Purner and his groundscrew.

Purner has been with the Somerset Patriots since 2006 and the head groundskeeper at TD Bank Ballpark since 2011. Under his care, the playing field has continued its reputation as one of the best in all of baseball. Purner’s year-round efforts have made the design, upkeep, and play of the field to be one of Major League quality to all that view it and compete on it.

This is the first time Purner has been bestowed with the honor named in the memory of his mentor and predecessor in the position. Cipperly served as the head groundskeeper in Somerset from 1999 through the 2010 season and was known throughout the industry for his work with playing fields. He passed away in 2015 and the Atlantic League renamed the groundskeeper award in his honor the following year.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL LIST OF AWARD WINNERS!

The Somerset Patriots will be back in action on Friday, May 1st for Opening Day at TD Bank Ballpark. Stay up to date on all the team news throughout the offseason online; on all of our social media platforms, and on our mobile app. For more information, visit www.somersetpatriots.com.

About The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)

With eight teams in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas, the ALPB is a leader in baseball innovation and a player gateway to Major League Baseball. Through its exclusive partnership with MLB, the Atlantic League tests Major League Baseball rules and equipment initiatives. The Atlantic League has sent over 950 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 42 million fans to its affordable, family-friendly ballparks throughout its 22-year history.

For more information, please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com.

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Somerset Patriots 2B Craig Massey Named To Red, White, And Blue All-Defensive Team

MasseyALPBWebSlideBridgewater, NJ – The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball has named Somerset Patriots second baseman Craig Massey to their annual Red, White, and Blue All- Defensive Team.

Massey finished the season with a .977 fielding percentage at the position. He played second base in 98 games, including 96 as the starter.

Massey had 484 total chances in 823.1 innings at second base and recorded 214 putouts, 259 assists, turned 86 double plays, and made 11 errors.

It is the fifth consecutive season in which the Atlantic League has selected a Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team among its post-season awards. The honor, based on players’ defensive capabilities during the regular season, commemorates the red-and-blue-stitched Rawlings baseball that was adopted as the league’s official baseball in 2015.

Players were selected through voting from league club administrators and field managers.

“Defense is an under-recognized key to baseball success,” said League President Rick White. “While there were many outstanding performances in the field this season, these nine players demonstrated extraordinary expertise with their arms and gloves.”

2019 marked Massey’s second season in Somerset. The Bells, Tennessee native entered the season as the reigning Atlantic League batting champion with a .338 average. He didn’t match that level of success this season, but contributed with his defense and added 44 runs scored, 83 hits, 18 doubles and 36 RBI in 99 games played.

Click Here For The Full Red, White, And Blue All-Defensive Team!

The Somerset Patriots will be back in action on Friday, May 1st for Opening Day at TD Bank Ballpark. Stay up to date on all the team news throughout the offseason online; on all of our social media platforms, and on our mobile app. For more information, visit www.somersetpatriots.com.

About The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)

With eight teams in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas, the ALPB is a leader in baseball innovation and a player gateway to Major League Baseball. Through its exclusive partnership with MLB, the Atlantic League tests Major League Baseball rules and equipment initiatives. The Atlantic League has sent over 950 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 42 million fans to its affordable, family-friendly ballparks throughout its 22-year history.

For more information, please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com.

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Somerset Patriots INF Will Kengor Named Post Season All-Star

ALPBKengorWebSlideBridgewater, NJ – The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball has named infielder Will Kengor as a Post Season All-Star for the 2019 season.

Kengor ranked among league leaders in just about every offensive category in 2019. He finished with a .321 batting average (2nd), .399 on-base percentage (2nd), .492 slugging percentage (5th), .891 OPS (4th), 152 hits (2nd), 32 doubles (T-4th), 60 walks (9th), 49 extra base hits (T-5th) and 233 total bases (5th).

In addition, Kengor won a Somerset Patriots triple crown after leading the team in batting (.321), home runs (15) and RBI (65) over 129 games, second most on the team. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native also enjoyed a 30-game on-base streak that spanned from August 2nd to September 3rd (tied for second-longest streak in the league) and reached base safely in 46 of his final 47 games of the season.

2019 marked a career year for Kengor. His marks in games, home runs, RBI, stolen bases (22), runs, hits, doubles, walks and on-base percentage were all career highs.

“You look for consistency with players and Will was the model of it all year,” said Somerset Patriots Manager Brett Jodie. “He was a pillar in our lineup. He drove in runs, got the big hits, and was a leader in our lineup. A lot of versatility that just added to everything else that truly made him an all-around valuable player.”

Kengor was named a 2019 Atlantic League All-Star to represent the Liberty Division in the mid-summer classic in York, Pennsylvania.

At the end of the regular season, Somerset Patriots fans selected Kengor as the Team MVP. He was recognized in a pre-game ceremony down on the field at the team’s home finale on Sunday, September 22nd.

“It’s an honor. There are a lot of great guys on this team,” said Kengor at the time of the MVP announcement. “We had a good group that stayed with us the whole year. I’m appreciative of all the fans that voted for me and [Brett Jodie] and [Director of Baseball Operations Jon Hunton] for bringing me in. All the guys that had been here, and the entire Somerset Patriots family that made me feel welcome, made it very easy to play here.”

Click Here To See The Full List Of ALPB Post Season All-Stars!

The Somerset Patriots will be back in action on Friday, May 1st for Opening Day at TD Bank Ballpark. Stay up to date on all the team news throughout the offseason online; on all of our social media platforms, and on our mobile app. For more information, visit www.somersetpatriots.com.

About The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)

With eight teams in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas, the ALPB is a leader in baseball innovation and a player gateway to Major League Baseball. Through its exclusive partnership with MLB, the Atlantic League tests Major League Baseball rules and equipment initiatives. The Atlantic League has sent over 950 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 42 million fans to its affordable, family-friendly ballparks throughout its 22-year history.

For more information, please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com.

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Somerset Patriots Announce 2020 Schedule

2020ScheduleWebBridgewater, NJ- The Somerset Patriots have announced their schedule for the 2020 season, beginning at home on Friday, May 1st against the Road Warriors at 7:05 pm.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL SCHEDULE!

The 126-game Atlantic League schedule will run from Friday, May 1st through Sunday, September 20th with 72 home games.

The Patriots will host 36 weekend games at TD Bank Ballpark. Game times for Monday through Saturday games are set for 7:05 pm, except for weekday games in May, June 2nd through 11th, and September, which will begin at 6:35 pm. Sunday games are scheduled for 1:05 pm in May, June and September, while changing to 5:05 pm in July and August.

The team will host 20 firework nights and be home on Father’s Day on Sunday, June 21st. The team’s promotional calendar of events is currently in the works and will be announced throughout the off-season.

Three day-night double headers are scheduled for the season. On Wednesday, May 6th, the Patriots will take on the Lancaster Barnstormers at 11:05 am and 6:35 pm. On Wednesday, May 20th, Somerset will host the High Point Rockers for an 11:05 am and 6:35 pm game. The Patriots will take on the Road Warriors at 11:05 am and 6:35 pm on Wednesday, June 3rd.

In addition to the early games of the day-night double headers, the Patriots will also have 11:05 am games on Wednesday, July 22nd versus the Long Island Ducks, Thursday, August 6th versus the Skeeters, and Wednesday, August 12th against the Road Warriors.

Eight member clubs will make up the Atlantic League, including the Road Warriors, who will enjoy the distinction of playing each of their games on the road. The league has utilized the Road Warriors in a number of seasons past, most recently in 2018, and the ALPB expects to return to a full complement of eight home communities in 2021.

During the 2020 season, the Road Warriors will be members of the Liberty Division in the place previously occupied by the New Britain Bees, who will now be operating in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. The Liberty Division will continue to include the High Point Rockers, Long Island Ducks and Somerset Patriots. The Freedom Division’s four clubs remain the same: the Lancaster Barnstormers, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, Sugar Land Skeeters and York Revolution.

The 23rd Annual Atlantic League All-Star Game will take place on Wednesday, July 15th, hosted by the Blue Crabs at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, Md. 2020 marks the second time the Blue Crabs will host the All-Star Game, previously doing so in 2013.

The ALPB schedule is divided into two 63-game halves, with the first half ending on Thursday, July 9, and the regular season ending on Sunday, September 20. The first half and second half champions from the Liberty and Freedom Divisions will qualify for 2020 Atlantic League championship playoffs. Should one team win each half in their respective division, a wild card scenario comes into play where the team with the next best overall record, regardless of division, qualifies for the postseason. If both first half division champions win the second half as well, a double wild card scenario will be instituted. Both Division Championship Series matchups will take place the week of September 21, with the Atlantic League Championship Series occurring during the week of September 28.

The Somerset Patriots will be back in action on Friday, May 1st for Opening Day at TD Bank Ballpark. Stay up to date on all the team news throughout the offseason online; on all of our social media platforms, and on our mobile app. For more information, visit www.somersetpatriots.com.

About The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)

With eight teams in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas, the ALPB is a leader in baseball innovation and a player gateway to Major League Baseball. Through its exclusive partnership with MLB, the Atlantic League tests Major League Baseball rules and equipment initiatives. The Atlantic League has sent over 950 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 42 million fans to its affordable, family-friendly ballparks throughout its 22-year history.

For more information, please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com.

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Somerset Patriots Celebrate The Past, Present, And Look To The Future

Next20WebSlideSomerset, NJ – The Somerset Patriots hosted a special event on Thursday, October 24th entitled Somerset Patriots: Next 20 to bring together community leaders, team partners and long-time fans to celebrate the team’s past, present, and future.

Over 150 guests were in attendance at the Palace at Somerset Park for a program that featured a distinguished panel celebrating where the team has been, what the team is doing, and where the team is going. Somerset Patriots Chairman Emeritus Steve Kalafer, along with Co-Chairmen Jonathan and Josh Kalafer, were joined on stage by baseball Hall of Famer and MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre, Somerset’s President/General Manager Patrick McVerry, Manager Emeritus and baseball great Sparky Lyle, President of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Rick White, Somerset County Freeholder Director Brian Levine, and Bridgewater Township Council Vice President Howard Norgalis.

The three-segment panel began with how the public-private partnership with Somerset County, Bridgewater Township, the Kalafer family, and the Somerset Patriots was formed to bring baseball and a beautiful taxpayer neutral ballpark to the community.

“You can see that [the ballpark] was going to be a place you wanted to go to. It wasn’t going to be some place you have to go to. You looked forward to it,” recalled Torre, one of the first people to see the ballpark during its early construction. “I think the key to the whole thing is whether it’s 20 years ago or yesterday, you were still going to get the same treatment. You still look forward to going to a place you enjoy being at and get entertained.”

TD Bank Ballpark officially opened its gates, originally as Somerset Ballpark, on June 7, 1999 for the first ever Somerset Patriots game. Since that time, the team has consistently ranked among the top drawing minor league franchises in the country.

Lyle spoke of coming home after playing all 100 games in 1998 on the road.

“When I first saw the ballpark, when I walked into it, it was far and above anything I was expecting,” said Lyle. “When [Joe Torre] and I were playing in the minor leagues, they didn’t have anything like it. It was and still is a beauty.”

Somerset County elected officials from all townships and boroughs were invited to be the guests of the team at the gathering. Freeholder Levine and Council Vice President Norgalis represented Somerset County and the Township or Bridgewater respectively.

“The model is what we have seen and how it works. For communities looking [at building ballparks] it’s all of the ancillary things too,” said Levine. “It’s jobs, full-time and part-time. Having a team called the Somerset Patriots keeping us on the map is always good.”

Norgalis added, “For those of you who know Bridgewater know we don’t have a downtown section. But on game night [TD Bank Ballpark] is the downtown for Bridgewater Township.”

The focus then shifted to the 2019 season and the excitement surrounding a team 20-plus years in and continuing to grow. While most franchises seem to struggle years into their existence, the Somerset Patriots led the Atlantic League in attendance for the third straight season.

“It’s about partnerships. That’s something that Steve and the Kalafer family are about and instilled in our staff since day one,” said McVerry of the team’s success. “It’s a family atmosphere. We live and breathe that every day and strive to always be that.”

The topics featured the partnership between the Atlantic League and Major League Baseball and the unprecedented amount of exposure the Somerset Patriots received throughout the season. In February of this year, the Atlantic League entered into a three-year agreement with MLB to test new rules and equipment that can ultimately impact the future of the game. The Somerset Patriots have played a leadership role in the groundbreaking agreement.

“The rules are a test at a high level in a great environment that will help Major League Baseball to determine its direction as it looks forward to new rules, new equipment, and different initiatives for the game,” said White, who emphasized that those tests began at TD Bank Ballpark before anywhere else in the league and baseball.

In addition to the MLB partnership bringing the team to new heights, the Somerset Patriots also received international stardom in the form of a viral video seen by tens of millions around the world.

“The 2019 season for the Somerset Patriots is really a case study in modern media and publicity,” said Jonathan Kalafer, who had a long career teaching media at New Jersey high schools and universities. “Going into the season, we knew it was going to be very exciting on the media front because of the partnership with Major League Baseball. We had no idea that was only going to be part of the story this year. The video of Marc Schwartz catching the foul ball captured by Mike Ashmore took off and became a prime example of viral video that got us national exposure which you saw more and more this year.”

The final section spoke about the importance to reinvest in the ballpark, the team, and the community to help sustain growth and long-term success for the next 20 years. The team showcased renderings of some of the ideas being discussed for improvements at the “Jewel of the Atlantic League.”

Images of the ballpark with a Ferris Wheel in front and redesigns of the picnic patio, Fun Zone, and Handle Bar were shown during the event as possible improvements to the facility over the next few years.

A common theme throughout the program was the importance of partnerships and everyone working together to achieve these goals.

“All the parties involved in making this a success have been honest and transparent with each other. That’s how a partnership has to work,” said Steve Kalafer. “I expect as we go forward with our partners that there will be legitimate questions and concerns. We have to be able to answer those, just like we did over 20 years ago. We know our lessons from the past. We take what has worked, and we hear what we each have to say, but move forward together.”

One of the constants for the Somerset Patriots has been the unbelievable support of the community. Since opening day, fans have turned out, over 7,000,000 strong, to show their love and support for the team and to enjoy a night out with those special to them. The team and Kalafer family do not take that two-decade support lightly.

“I think the most beautiful part of the ballpark is the people. It’s the people that come out every night or once a season,” said Josh Kalafer. “The people that come out to the games really make the Somerset Patriots who we are. That, and of course, the people we are fortunate enough to work with as our colleagues every day.”

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