Below are press releases I wrote while working with the Jackson Generals. All were published to jacksongeneralsbaseball.com.
Generals Sweep Postseason Awards
O’Neill, Yarbrough, Brown become first trio to do so since 1991
Jackson, Tenn. – The Jackson Generals made history Wednesday, as the team claimed each of the three major postseason awards in the Southern League. Tyler O’Neill was named the league’s Most Valuable Player, Ryan Yarbrough was named Most Outstanding Pitcher and Daren Brown earned Manager of the Year honors. It is the first time since 1991 and only the third time in Southern League history one team has had the winner of all three awards.
O’Neill becomes the franchise’s second-ever MVP, while Yarbrough and Brown give the Generals three winners in their respective categories. The 1991 Greenville Braves were the last team to sweep the three major awards, with Ryan Klesko winning MVP, Mark Wohlers taking home the Most Outstanding Pitcher award and Chris Chambliss winning Manager of the Year. The only other team in Sotuhern League history to accomplish the feat was the 1980 Nashville Sounds: MVP Steve Balboni, Most Outstanding Pitcher Andy McGaffigan and Manager of the Year Carl “Stump” Merrill.
Most Valuable Player: Tyler O’Neill
A spectacular 2016 for the slugging outfielder continues, as Tyler O’Neill was named the Southern League’s Most Valuable Player. At the time of the announcement, O’Neill ranked among the top two in all three Triple Crown categories. His 100 RBI have already set a franchise record and he leads the league by 14 in that department, while his .296 average and 24 home runs are second in the circuit.
O’Neill also leads the league in on-base percentage (.378), slugging percentage (.519), extra-base hits (54) and total bases (247) with six games to go in the regular season. His 61 walks rank fifth in the league. The 21-year-old also has 12 steals in 14 tries and nine outfield assists on defense. He has played in 125 of the team’s 133 games thus far. His 28-game on-base streak in April and May was the longest for a General since 2014, and he drove in a run in eight-straight games at one point in the First Half.
This is yet another honor for O’Neill, who was a Player of the Week, Player of the Month, Mid-Season All-Star and Postseason All-Star as well in the Southern League. In addition to his single-season RBI record, O’Neill tied a franchise-best with eight RBI in a game June 8 versus Pensacola. He capped off that effort with a walk-off grand slam. He becomes the second-ever MVP in franchise history, joining Cubs’ prospect Richard Lewis in 2004 with the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx.
Most Outstanding Pitcher: Ryan Yarbrough
A day after being named to the Postseason All-Star Team, Yarbrough was honored with the Southern League’s Most Outstanding Pitcher Award. In 24 starts for the Generals through Wednesday, Yarbrough went 12-4 with a 2.92 ERA while allowing just 108 hits in 126.1 innings. He is tied for the league lead in victories with 12 while ranking second in ERA, WHIP (1.10) and opponents’ average (.228) among starters. Out of his 24 outings, 13 have been quality starts.
Twice this season, Yarbrough was named Southern League Pitcher of the Week and he was a Mid-Season All-Star as well. He threw his first career complete game shutout in game two of a doubleheader April 30 versus Mobile, allowing just three hits over seven innings. That began a stretch of six victories in as many starts for the southpaw. In the month of May, he went 5-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 30 innings of work, surrendering just six earned runs over five starts.
Yarbrough cemented his status as the league’s top hurler with four consecutive victories from July 23 to August 14. He pitched seven scoreless frames July 29 versus Jacksonville in an 11-1 win for the Generals before allowing just one hit and one walk over six innings in his next start at Montgomery. He has been especially cruel to lefties, holding them to a .186 average in 129 at-bats this year.
This is the third time in franchise history that a Jackson pitcher has won the award. Brandon Maurer was named Most Outstanding Pitcher for the Generals in 2012, while Cubs’ farmhand and current Angels pitcher Ricky Nolasco won it with the Diamond Jaxx in 2005.
Manager of the Year: Daren Brown
In his first year with the Generals, Daren Brown earned Manager of the Year honors. Going into Wednesday’s game, Jackson’s 83 victories are one shy of tying a franchise record. The team already has the most wins in ten years since becoming a Mariners affiliate in 2007.
Brown is in his 16th season with the Mariners and his 13th as a Minor League Manager. In seven years at the helm of Triple-A Tacoma, Brown won a franchise-record 433 games. He helped lead the Rainiers to a PCL Championship in 2010, which is one of now five seasons he has lead a minor league team to a division title. He also has Major League experience, having served as Seattle’s manager for 50 games in 2010 and the team’s third base coach for almost all of 2013.
He led the Generals to a 46-24 record in the First Half, setting a franchise record for wins in a half. Eight Generals were named to the Mid-Season All-Star Team and three players were selected at Postseason All-Stars as well. The team leads the Southern League in batting and defense while ranking third in pitching.
This is the first time in the Mariners era that Jackson has had a Manager of the Year. Dave Trembley and Dave Bialas won the award in consecutive seasons as skippers of the Diamond Jaxx in 1999 and 2000. The 2000 team went on to win the franchise’s lone Southern League title since moving to Jackson.
Generals Named Business of the Year
Team honored by Jackson Chamber of Commerce for successful 2015
Jackson, Tenn. – The Jackson Generals were honored with the Jackson Chamber’s Small Business of the Year Award Thursday afternoon at the Chamber’s Annual Celebration. The team saw an attendance increase for the second-consecutive year and won the Southern League Community Service Award in 2015.
“We are incredibly honored to be recognized by the Jackson Chamber for a successful 2015,” General Manager Jason Compton said. “The Generals strive to be an integral part of Jackson and West Tennessee by providing affordable family fun and through community service.”
The Generals were one of six award winners at Thursday’s Annual Celebration presented by West Tennessee Healthcare, which took place at the Carl Grant Events Center at Union University. The yearly event celebrates professional and community achievements throughout West Tennessee. The recipients were determined based on history and growth, customer service excellence and community involvement by a panel of out of town judges.
Despite a losing record, the Generals saw increased attendance at The Ballpark at Jackson for a second-straight season in 2015. More than 135,000 made their way to a game last year. The team had more than 4,000 fans at 10 games, including a single-game franchise record 6,814 on June 6.
Visits from Jep Robertson of A&E’s Duck Dynasty and recording artist Kellie Pickler highlighted a successful year promotionally for the Generals. Pickler sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at an August contest against Jacksonville which was later featured on CMT’s I Love Kellie Pickler. Jackson also placed seventh in MiLB’s annual Clash of the Caps competition to determine the best hat in all of Minor League Baseball.
The Generals were also honored with the Southern League’s Community Service Award in September for the team’s charitable contributions and involvement in the community. In addition to countless appearances by Sarge and players in West Tennessee throughout 2015, the Generals raised almost $10,000 for organizations like the Children’s Miracle Network, A Hope to Dream, the Madison County Fire Department, Autism Awareness and the American Cancer Society.
Jackson’s front office is a part of a number of community initiatives. Last March, the team helped to improve the grounds at Hands Up! Preschool in Jackson and many full-time staffers mentor local high school seniors through the Tennessee Promise Program. In addition, local students that qualified for the honor roll and read 10 books in the spring were given free tickets to games.
The team has also helped make The Ballpark at Jackson a venue for more than just baseball. Last year marked the first time the Generals played host to Englewood Baptist Church’s annual Easter event and service. Easter at The Ballpark is happening again in 2016, with a concert, fireworks, egg hunt and more on March 25 and 26. The Generals also raised money for the Jackson Fire Department’s Survive Alive House with a free Labor Day event on the field for kids and families.
“Baseball season might run from April to June, but we hope that The Ballpark at Jackson is a venue for events year-round,” Compton said. “Between Easter, Labor Day and Halloween, the Generals have made The Ballpark a place for families even when the team isn’t playing.”
While 2015 was a fantastic year for the team, the Generals are looking ahead to 2016. Jackson opens at home against Montgomery on April 7. Two nights later, the team plays the first of 12 Saturday home games featuring postgame fireworks and The Ballpark at Jackson will also host a July 3 contest against Mississippi.
Get in on another season of fun with the Generals now! Flex Packages and Season Tickets are available now! Flex Plans include 10 undated reserved seat vouchers and $100 in gift certificates-a $220 value-for just $50, and season tickets are only $300 for a limited time! Buy your tickets now by giving the team a call at (731) 988.5299, stopping by the park or going online at jacksongeneralsbaseball.com.