LINCOLN NAMED AAIPB ORGANIZATION OF THE YEAR
Saltdogs Tim Utrup Earns Top GM honors
PENSACOLA, FLA. The Lincoln Saltdogs put the finishing touches on the best season in franchise history with a pair of prestigious honors awarded by the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. At the league meetings held this week in Pensacola, Lincoln was named the Organization of the Year and Tim Utrup was named the AAIPBs General Manager of the Year. The honors were determined by a vote of league coaches and media personnel taken at the conclusion of the season.
To be named the Organization of the Year in the inaugural season of the American Association is an honor we hold in high regard, said Saltdogs Chairman Jim Abel. We have a tremendous amount of respect for the other teams and for the people who make up the league so we have a great appreciation for this award. Im also proud of the team of people we have in place on our staff who have put a lot of hard work and pride into putting together a quality product for our fans both on and off the field.
While we didnt reach our goal of winning a championship, 2006 was a special season for us and we know that this league has a great future. Were excited to be a part of it and we are committed to making it the best in the nation.
For Utrup, who has been with the Saltdogs since the teams inception in 2001, it is the second time that he has earned top General Manager honors during his six years in Lincoln.
Weve been fortunate to have Tims leadership from Day 1, said Saltdogs President Charlie Meyer. He does a great job with our entire staff and hes been a key reason for our success over the years. Tim is one of the best in the business and were happy that hes being recognized for the great job he does everyday in making the Saltdogs one of the best organizations in baseball.
The Saltdogs finished the 2006 campaign with a 65-31 record setting a team best for wins in a season and qualified for the league playoffs. Lincoln won both the first and second half titles in the North Division and earned an automatic berth into the post-season for the first time. The Dogs also set a team record with a 10-game win streak and at one point won 18 of 19 games, July 21-August 8. As a team, the Saltdogs had the top batting average at .306 and the top pitching staff with a 3.51 earned run average.
Individually, Pichi Balet led the league in hitting at .378, RBI with 82 and in hits with 136 en route to earning the AAIPBs Player of the Year award. Staff ace Lindsay Gulin finished 13-2 and was named the leagues top left-hand pitcher and the American Associations Star of Stars by SportsTicker. Jason Howerton added to the collection of honors when he was voted the leagues Rookie Pitcher of the Year. Last but not least, leading the Saltdogs to their record-breaking campaign was Tim Johnson who, in his fourth season at the helm, was named the leagues Manager of the Year.
Additionally, Haymarket Park, the home of the Saltdogs, was named its Best Playing Field at seasons end. The award encompasses all aspects of the ballparks operations. During the 2006 season, Lincoln and Haymarket Park ranked second in attendance in the AAIPB with a total of 190,873 fans for an average attendance of 4,061 per home game. Overall, the Saltdogs ranked 11th nationally in attendance among all independent baseball teams.