20 Seasons Highlights CD: Postseason Awards, All Stars
In 2022, the Washington Wild Things are celebrating their 20th Frontier League season. The team will be celebrating in numerous ways Opening Weekend, beyond that and in several other ways. As part of our celebration, we're counting down some of the historical highlights the organization and team has seen occur over the first 19 seasons of Wild Things' baseball in the league.
The countdown isn't in any specific order in terms of importance, but it's time we visit some of the best on-field moments, significant historical accomplishments, records, traditions and more.
Plans for the celebration of the 20th season of Frontier League baseball for the Washington Wild Things are still in the works and whenever they get announced, you can rest assured the party will not stop all season long with the festivities kicking off May 13-15 with Opening Weekend.
The countdown continues today with us revisiting and highlighting the team's achievements on the field in postseason lore. The 19 seasons the Wild Things have completed in the Frontier League have led to an extensive list of just that: awards and honors presented and announced by the league for success from Wild Things' players and staff.
In all, 22 players and staff have received postseason awards from the Frontier League, some of which have won multiple times. Later in the countdown we'll visit the Frontier League's greatest honor of a Hall of Fame induction. Those six players are not included as that in this week's post. Those aforementioned awards also go with 27 postseason all stars the Wild Things have had.
Each year, the league announces a postseason All Star team honoring a player at each position: catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, third base, three outfielders, a designated hitter, a starting pitcher and a relief pitcher (doesn't have to be a closer). The league also awards an MVP award, a Pitcher of the Year honor and laurels for Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Organization of the Year, Executive of the Year, Coach of the Year (an assistant), Broadcaster of the Year and Writer of the Year. The league also added an Excellence in Marketing Award recently and honors one player with a Citizenship Award for that player's contributions off the field and in the community.
Next week, we'll dive deep into the MVP and Pitcher of the Year Awards the Wild Things have received, so we'll quickly go through those now as to not leave them out of the discussion.
Morgan Burkhart Award (Most Valuable Player)
- Josh Loggins (2003) - Loggins was the first Wild Thing to receive the award for league MVP in the team's second season. His .331 batting average was third in the league and he belted a league-best 24 home runs to help drive in 72 runs, a total that was fourth amongst qualified hitters. He also stole 15 bags. Loggins is now in the Hall of Fame.
- James Harris (2018) - Harris hit .305 with 117 hits (second highest total in the league), 22 doubles, a league-most eight triples and 16 home runs to go along with 64 RBI. Harris stole 26 bases that season and also hit for the only cycle in Wild Things' history.
Bryan Tollberg Award (Pitcher of the Year)
- Jared Howton (2002) - Howton went 11-3 and led the league in wins that season: the inaugural season of Wild Things' baseball. He pitched his was to a 1.89 ERA, which stood as a team record for a single season for a while. In 109.1 innings, he fanned 89 and allowed only 86, the least among those pitchers who threw at least 100 innings that season. Howton is in the Hall of Fame.
- Aaron Ledbetter (2007) - One of the best pitchers in league history and a hall of famer, Ledbetter didn't spend a ton of time in Washington but it was impactful. He led the league with 14 wins and only two losses. His 2.71 ERA was amongst the best for qualified pitchers and he logged 129.2 innings, behind only two others.
- Thomas Dorminy (2018) - The lefty won the award in one of Washington's best seasons ever as the ace of the pitching staff that helped get Washington to within one game of a title. He was just 9-5 but his 2.45 ERA was the best among qualified pitchers and he logged a total of 132.1 innings (tied second in the league). He struck out 109 to just 39 walks.
- Ryan Hennen (2021) - One of the three awards Hennen received this past season, his honor came after he was selected second in the Frontier League Tryout and Draft by Washington and then a season where he led the league in ERA (2.12) by 0.60 points. He tied for second in the league in wins with 11 and his 106.1 innings were a top 10 total.
Jason Simontacchi Award (Rookie of the Year)
- Casey Barnes (2011) - Barnes' 2.34 ERA in 84.2 innings was the third best in the league among qualified pitchers. He walked only 19 and fanned 51 in the first of his two seasons in Washington. He was a midseason All Star that year as well.
- Ryan Hennen (2021) - After being the early draft pick he was, Hennen used the aforementioned spectacular season to earn Rookie of the Year honors in the league.
Roger Hanners Award (Manager of the Year)
- Jeff Isom (2002) - The inaugural season of the Wild Things and the success had led to Isom being honored with this award. Washington, backed by sellout crowds, won a league-best 30 games (30-12) at home and a league-most 26 games on the road, getting to 56-28 in the regular season. Isom led the Things to the FLCS, but they fell to Richmond in the end.
- John Massarelli (2004, 2005) - Massarelli won the award in back-to-back seasons. In 2004, Washington went 62-34, which was the best record in the league's regular season. That set a new league record. Washington bowed out of the playoffs in the historic season in the first round (semifinals), but that didn't take away from a successful year. Mazz followed it up by leading the Things to another 62-win season in 2005 and another playoff appearance. Washington won 35 of 50 games at home.
Fran Riordan Award (Citizenship Award)
This award is given to players who show exemplary character on and off the field. Contributions like charity work, donations of time and energy to the community, character shown to opposing fans on the road and more can help a player receive this honor. It's a big deal and the Wild Things are proud to have four winners of the award, who have shown what it means to be a Wild Thing: the success of a player is not just judged by what they do on the field.
- Randy McGarvey (2005)
- Gary Lee (2012)
- Rashad Brown (2017)
- Nick Ward (2021)
Bob Wolfe Award (Executive of the Year)
- Ross Vecchio (2004) - The longest-tenured GM in Wild Things' history helped lead the organization to a lot of on and off the field success during his run, including being in the top five in attendance every season he was the general manager. In fact, from 2002-07, the Wild Things finished in the top 3 in league attendance and made the playoffs every season, while racking up division titles. In 2004, the Wild Things drew 154,963 fans (third in the league) and posted a league-record 62 wins.
Organization of the Year
- 2002 - The inaugural season of the team. A total of 132,901 fans came through the gates at then Falconi Field and Washington posted a 56-28 record on the field. The attendance total was the second best in the league by ~30,000 fans.
- 2004 (Tie w/ Kalamazoo) - With 154,963 fans, the Wild Things were third in attendance. On the field, the team posted a league record 62 wins.
- 2005 (East, Tie w/ Florence) - Washington drew 159,857 fans and won 62 games again on the field.
Darren Bush Award (Coach of the Year)
- Mark Mason (2006) - As the pitching coach, Mason helped lead the pitching staff to a 3.45 team ERA in 862 innings on the mound. The team went 59-37: the best record in the league. Mason went on to manage Washington in 2009.
- Alex Boshers (2021) - In his first season with the team, Boshers guided the pitching staff to a top three ERA in the league and being among the two best teams in fewest walks issued during the regular season. He also stepped into a role on the mound.
Robert Ford Award (Broadcaster of the Year)
- Randy Gore (2008, 2011) - As the voice of the Wild Things and traveling broadcaster for the team's radio partner, WJPA, Gore won the award twice. During road games, Gore was the lone voice of the club while he was joined by Mark Uriah, Bob Gregg and others at home, but remained the lead voice.
- Kyle Dawson (2019, 2021) - Dawson won the award for the first time in his second season as the team's broadcaster and for the second-straight contested Frontier League season in 2021. He has been joined in the booth by Mitch Montani, Jack Hillgrove and Andrew Rogers in his time in the broadcast booth and runs the media relations efforts and Frontier League TV production for the team as well, which was directed by current Creative Services Manager Sean Seaman in 2021. The production drew the most viewers and led in some other categories this past season.
Writer of the Year
- Chris Dugan (Multiple Time Winner) - Dugan, as the beat writer for the Washington Observer-Reporter, has been honored as the league's top writer several times for his work in the O-R.
Clint Brown Award (Excellence in Marketing)
- Tony Buccilli, Craig Lion (2019) - The award was introduced a few years ago for the team that excels in marketing in print, web and social media, as well as the team's in-park experience. The combined efforts of current president and general manager Tony Buccilli, former Creative Services and Production manager Craig Lion and their team helped the Wild Things win the award in 2019.
Trainer of the Year:
- Rylee Shimmin (2021) - Shimmin became the first athletic trainer in Wild Things' history to receive the league's honor this past season.
The Wild Things have also received commissioner's excellence awards for sales, in-game entertainment and some other ancillary things.
Postseason All Star History:
- Catchers: Shaun Argento (2002), Josh Loggins (2003), Lance Koenig (2006)
- First Base: Ernie Banks (2009), Kane Sweeney (2017)
- Second Base: Brian Stoecklein (2004), CJ Beatty (2013)
- Shortstop: Brad Hensler (2002)
- Third Base: Pat Peavey (2006)
- Outfield: Jack Headley (2004), Mike Arbinger (2005), Chris Carter (2006), Chris Sidick (2006), James Harris (2018), Hector Roa (2019)
- Designated Hitter: Jay Coakley (2003), Jacob Dempsey (2008), CJ Beatty (2014)
- Starting Pitcher: Jared Howton (2002), Aaron Ledbetter (2007), Trevor Foss (2016), Thomas Dorminy (2018), Ryan Hennen (2021)
- Relief Pitcher: Robert Garvin (2002), Jim Popp (2005), Jonathan Kountis (2014)
Most of the above honors are voted on by the league's managers, assistant coaches, media, broadcasters and general managers, with a few exceptions.
Next week, we'll dig deeper into the two MVPs and four Pitchers of the Year. Stay tuned!
To keep up with the countdown, see below for trips back in the past to our previous three stops on the countdown. Stay glued to our social media, website and more for more information regarding our big plans for the 20 Seasons Anniversary celebration, because it's sure to be wild. We're giving you the presents, the parties, the fun and more as a thanks for your support over the years and the support we know will continue to be shown to us.
20 Seasons Countdown History:
20: James Harris Makes History with First Wild Things' cycle
19: Barry Bonds a Wild Thing? We revisit the moment that got the Wild Things national attention!