GREENVILLE, S.C. — The Greenville Drive, a Single-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, has been honored as the nation’s top Single-A baseball team as the recipient of the prestigious 2020 Bob Freitas Award by Baseball America, the baseball industry’s premier publication.
Named after longtime Minor League Baseball ambassador Bob Freitas, the award honors franchises that have demonstrated long-term success and sustained excellence in the business of Minor League Baseball.
One franchise from each of MiLB's four classification levels (Triple-A, Double-A, Single-A and Short-Season/Rookie) is honored each year, and The Drive was selected from among 60 other organizations in its class. This is the second time The Drive has won the award in its franchise history, winning the last time in 2012.
While overall accomplishments and commitment to the community have always been hallmarks of this sought-after award, the community service aspect took on even greater significance this year in light of the unprecedented cancellation of the season due to COVID-19. The Drive was singled out for its innovation in maintaining its critical role as a linchpin of the Greenville community, even in the absence of games, through efforts to combat COVID-19, fight hunger, improve education and to continue to offer fun and family-friendly opportunities for the community to come together safely.
In fact, according to the award profile story in Baseball America, The Drive “doubled down” on their community relations efforts, creating a sense of unity that does not come from home runs, bobbleheads, or fireworks, but from the knowledge that everyone in the entire organization, from the ushers to the players and from the executive suite to the concession stand, will be there for the city they call home.
"The Freitas Award is our chance to honor the entire operation of a minor league baseball team from the owner and general manager to the ticket taker and clubhouse manager,” said J.J. Cooper, executive editor, Baseball America. “We look at a team's ability to connect with its community and provide a quality experience for fans. This year, the coronavirus pandemic wiped out an entire season. That meant that we put an even larger emphasis on a team's ability to serve its community. The Drive were one of the standouts around the country in taking the challenge of 2020 and using it as an opportunity to make a difference to the people of Greenville and the surrounding area. Because of that, we are proud to award them the 2020 Freitas Award."
“To be singled out among a very accomplished and successful group of more than 60 Single-A franchises by a well-respected and influential publication like Baseball America is an incredible honor for the entire Drive organization,” said Craig Brown, President and Owner, the Greenville Drive. “More importantly, it is a testament to the strong partnership between our team and the Greenville community we continue to love and support, even through difficult times. We couldn’t be prouder of this achievement.”
Among the 2020 efforts for which The Drive was honored were:
• Education: #Teach864 teacher appreciation events, Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Virtual events, Christ Church Episcopal School and Greenville Tech Charter High School graduations
• COVID-19 Relief Efforts: “Safe At Home” United Way t-shirt promotion, CommUNITY First Harvest Hope food drive, South Carolina Dental Association PPE Distribution, Underground Kitchen community food distribution event
• Community Health: Blood Connection community blood drives, Unite to Fight Convalescent plasma-donation event and blood drive
• Complimentary Community Events: Green Monster Mash Halloween event, Homeplate Holiday brunch, Upstate Salute Veterans Day concert, Greenville County “Day of Action” event, Girl Scouts “Discovery Day”, 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb event
"The Greenville Drive has long been known as Greenville’s front porch because of our ability to bring the community together,” added Greenville Drive General Manager Eric Jarinko. “This year has presented previously unimagined challenges to our ability to live up to that billing, so we have gotten creative and expanded our efforts to be a force for good and a source of hope in Greenville. To earn this distinction during such a challenging year is especially meaningful for our owners, team members, staff and partners, all of whom have united around the common goal of making a difference in our area and worked to have fun along the way.”
The Freitas Award was recently presented in a virtual ceremony, and Baseball America ran a feature story on The Drive’s 2020 successes in its December 2020 issue.
About The Greenville Drive
The Greenville Drive, the South Atlantic League affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, are in their 15th season at award-winning Fluor Field in downtown Greenville. Since 2006, more than 400,000 fans a year have been welcomed to Fluor Field for both Drive games and additional community events. In 2017, the Drive was honored with the prestigious John H. Johnson President’s Award, presented by Minor League Baseball and given to “the total baseball franchise,” based on contributions to baseball in the community, promotion of the baseball industry, financial stability, and contributions to league stability. Ninety-three Drive alumni have gone on to play at the major-league level, eight of which were members of the Red Sox 2018 World Series Championship Team.
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