Thursday, February 19, 2015

Knights release 2015 promotions schedule

The Charlotte Knights released their full promotional schedule to fans on Thursday.

This season's highlights will include a Joel Skinner Bobblehead, Caddyshack, Star Wars, and Back to the Future themed nights, a Superhero Night with pro wrestler "Hurricane" Helms, and appearances by Dale Murphy and Bobby Richardson.

Friday Knight Fireworks will also be back, as well as the always entertaining Thirsty Thursdays.

For a full list of this season's promotions, CLICK HERE.

Team USA to host Cuba in July 4th showdown at BB&T BallPark

Per the team's release...

(UPTOWN CHARLOTTE, NC) - Baseball and fireworks converge in Uptown Charlotte on Saturday, July 4th as BB&T Ballpark will play host to the 39th Annual WBT SkyShow. With the Charlotte Knights on the road this season facing the Gwinnett Braves on July 4th, this year's celebration features a friendship series between USA Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation at BB&T Ballpark. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.

"We are very pleased to be able to keep the tradition of baseball and fireworks alive on the Fourth of July," stated Knights Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski. "What better way to bring the city of Charlotte together with the largest fireworks show of the year and a competitive game between Team USA and the Cuban Baseball Federation."

SkyShow returns to BB&T Ballpark for the second time in as many seasons and will once again kick things off with a SkyShow Street Party on Mint Street on July 4th. Face painting, balloon animals, games, prizes, and the largest fireworks show in the Southeast headline the annual event, which brought together thousands of people in and around the Uptown area last year.

"WBT is thrilled to be partnered again with the Charlotte Knights for the 2015 July 4th SkyShow," said WBT Operations Manager Matt DuBois. "We are proud to offer the Charlotte Community this gift that has been a tradition since 1976."

After a 16-year hiatus, USA and Cuba resumed a yearly international friendship series in 2012 with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team traveling to Havana for a five-game series. Cuba scored a 3-2 series victory that year. In 2013 (in the U.S.) and 2014 (in Cuba), the host nations each came away with a five-game series sweep. In three years of the renewed rivalry, Cuba leads the series 8-7.

This year, the friendship series between Team USA and the Cuban Baseball Federation will take place at three different ballparks over the course of a five-game series. The two teams will open and close the series at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., on July 1 and 6, while the Durham Bulls will host games on July 2 and 3 at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

"It is a thrill to bring the Cuban National Team to North Carolina for five competitive, entertaining games in Cary, Durham and Charlotte, this summer," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball's executive director/CEO. "Building on the success of the first three years of this renewed friendship series should make for an incredible experience for the players, coaches, fans and the international baseball community."

Season ticket holders will have the first opportunity to purchase their seats for the July 4th event beginning today. Tickets for the game on July 4th, along with single-game tickets to all 72 regular season home games, the White Sox exhibition game on April 3rd, and the Charlotte 49ers game on March 31st, will go on sale to the general public beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 21. Single game tickets for all games will then go on sale by phone at 704-274-8282 and online at at noon on February 21. Prices for the July 4th game will be the same as prices for all 72 regular season home games this season.

Friday Night Fireworks, presented by 107.9 The Link, News Talk 1110 WBT, and BB&T, also return to BB&T Ballpark for the 2015 season and the Knights will light up the sky on 12 occasions this season.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Charlotte to host 2016 Triple-A All-Star Game

Per the Knights' release...

(UPTOWN CHARLOTTE, NC) – The Charlotte Knights and BB&T Ballpark -- the most visited venue across all of Minor League Baseball in 2014 – have been awarded the 2016 Triple-A All-Star Game, as well as adjoining All-Star Game festivities. 

The announcement was made at a press conference earlier this morning by Charlotte Knights Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski. The 29th annual Triple-A All-Star Game, which features the top talent from the International League against the top talent from the Pacific Coast League, will take place on Wednesday, July 13, 2016at BB&T Ballpark and will be nationally televised on MLB Network.

Played annually since 1988, the Triple-A All-Star Game rotates annually between International League and Pacific Coast League cities. The 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game will be played in Omaha, NE on July 15, 2015. Under current rules, the winning league of the Triple-A All-Star Game earns home field advantage in the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game, which the Knights hosted on September 16, 2014 at BB&T Ballpark.
Among the other public events scheduled at BB&T Ballpark during All-Star Week are an All-Star Fan Fest -- which will feature fan autograph sessions and baseball-themed attractions, a Home Run Derby, an All-Star luncheon and other events throughout the Charlotte community.

2016 Triple-A Baseball Events at BB&T Ballpark

Monday, July 11
Home Run Derby

Wednesday, July 13
All-Star Luncheon 
All-Star Fan Fest 
Triple-A Baseball All-Star Game

For more info, read today's story in the Observer

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Joel Skinner back, as Charlotte Knights' coaching staff remains largely intact

The Chicago White Sox announced their 2015 player development staff on Wednesday afternoon and although several lower-level farm teams will be getting used to new faces, the Charlotte Knights’ staff from 2014 will remain largely intact. 

Joel Skinner will return for a fourth consecutive season as the Knights’ manager, along with Richard Dotson (pitching coach), Andy Tomberlin (hitting coach), Ryan Newman (bench coach) and Chad Efron (strength and conditioning).

Skinner is the winningest manager in Knights’ franchise history (211) and his four-year run at the helm will also make him the lonest tenured skipper in team history.  

The lone new face in the clubhouse – Scott Johnson (athletic trainer) -- should actually look familiar to long-time Knights’ fans. Johnson spent the past two seasons (2013-14) with Double-A Birmingham, but previously spent 12 seasons with Charlotte from 1999-2010.

“We are very pleased to embark on our second season at BB&T Ballpark in Uptown Charlotte with Joel Skinner returning as our field manager,” Knights Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski said via press release. “Joel’s leadership, experience, and ability to develop future Major League talent have been evident over the past three seasons. We also welcome Richard, Ryan, Andy, Chad, and Scott back to the Knights staff this year.”

The Knights – who had 19 players promoted to the White Sox during 2014 -- finished 63-81 in their return to Charlotte under Skinner’s guidance.

In Skinner’s first season as manager of the Knights, he led the club to an International League Southern Division title (2012). That season, the Knights posted a 83-61 mark -- the club's second highest single season win total in franchise history

Dotson will enter his eighth season as the teams’ pitching coach.

Tomberlin, an alumnus of Piedmont High School, is back for a second consecutive with the club (The Monroe, NC native also spent 2012 as Charlotte’s hitting coach in Fort Mill, SC). Under Tomberlin’s guidance last season, the Knights slugged 176 home runs, which tied with High Desert (California League) for the most in Minor League Baseball.

The likely first chance for Knights’ fans to catch Skinner and company in person will come on Friday, April 3 when the White Sox and Knights will collaborate on a “Leadoff Luncheon” at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura, along with Rick Hahn (White Sox Senior Vice President/General Manager), Buddy Bell, (Chicago White Sox Vice President/Assistant General Manager), and members of the 2015 Knights will be on hand to answer questions and sign autographs.

Later on April 3, the White Sox and Knights will play a charity exhibition game at BB&T Ballpark, beginning at 6 p.m.

For a full list of the White Sox 2015 player development staff, click here.  

Note: Former Knights catcher Cole Armstrong will manage the Great Falls Voyagers (the White Sox Advanced rookie affiliate in MT) this year. He hit 10 home runs for Charlotte in 2009.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Charlotte Knights plan to add roughly 240 seats to BB&T BallPark

Charlotte Knights’ Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski confirmed Wednesday that the team will be adding roughly 240 seats to BB&T BallPark this winter.

The Knights plan to add 150 seats to the berm in right-center field and as many as 90 seats along the first row of the Home Run Porch on the second level down the right-field line.

“There were a couple of areas of the ballpark that we wanted to look a bit more finished,” Rajkowski said, noting that there has also been some landscaping done along the batter’s eye in centerfield.

“In some ways it looked like we’d just moved in last season – and we had,” Rajkowski continued. “We’re looking to address that this winter.”

After factoring in the displaced standing-room areas, the Knights expect a net gain of nearly 130 fans per sold-out game, boosting the ballpark’s capacity to 10,640 (with 8,740 permanent seats and the rest filled by standing room) in 2015.

Tickets for the new seats are expected to cost $14 each (if purchased in advance, $16 the day of a game) and pay for their installation by the end of 2015.

After the Knights led minor-league baseball in attendance last season (687,715 fans over 71 home dates), the need to add more seats became apparent to Rajkowski. He said that the team rarely failed to sell out their 8,500 permanent seats last season.

Upkeep of the berm in right-centerfield was also a concern. The berm will no longer exist come April 3, when the Knights host parent club the Chicago White Sox in the first baseball game to be played at BB&T in 2015.

Read more here:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Charlotte 49ers to face NC State Wolfpack at BB&T Ballpark on March 31

Here's the press release...

(UPTOWN CHARLOTTE, NC) – BB&T Ballpark, home of the Charlotte Knights, will host exciting collegiate baseball action on Tuesday, March 31 as the Charlotte 49ers will face the NC State Wolfpack in a 6:05 p.m. game. The 49ers -- the home team for the game -- also released their entire 2015 schedule today, which kicks-off with a three-game series against the University of Georgia in Athens, GA from February 13-15.
“We are very pleased to bring college baseball to BB&T Ballpark,” said Knights Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President Dan Rajkowski. “This game will be a great way to showcase two great collegiate baseball programs in a competitive matchup in Uptown Charlotte. We look forward to welcoming Coach Hibbs and the hometown Charlotte 49ers, as well as Coach Avent and the Wolfpack.”

The Charlotte 49ers are a member of Conference USA, which saw 34 players chosen in the June Major League Baseball Draft last season. Since the inception of the Charlotte Knights franchise in 1988, two players have gone on to play for both the Charlotte 49ers and the Knights. Mark Davidson, a six-year Major League veteran, played for the Charlotte Knights in 1993, while the 2014 season brought former 49ers pitcher Tyler Barnette to BB&T Ballpark. Barnette, a Hickory, NC native, was a 14th round selection of the White Sox in 2013. The 49ers have also had seven players go on to play Major League Baseball, including current Volunteer Assistant Coach John Maine.

“What a great opportunity for our program,” said Charlotte 49ers Coach Loren Hibbs. “Thanks to Coach Avent and NC State for their willingness to play. Thanks to Dan (Rajkowski) and Scotty (Brown) for providing us this opportunity. The Knights are a first class organization and we are excited to partner with them for this event. Everyone is looking forward to March 31st and the opportunity for Niner Nation to show its support for our program and the Charlotte Knights!”

The Wolfpack have been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) since the conference’s founding in 1954. Notable players such as Russell Wilson (current Seattle Seahawks quarterback), and Dan Plesac (an 18-year Major League veteran) played for the Wolfpack during their collegiate days. The 2014 Charlotte Knights roster featured two former NC State players -- Eric Surkamp and Carlos Rodon -- both left-handed pitchers. Rodon, Chicago’s first-round pick out of the 2014 draft (3rd overall), made a quick jump from college to Triple-A, where he ended last season with the Knights. Surkamp was promoted to Chicago from Charlotte on four occasions last season.

Gates for the game between the Charlotte 49ers and the NC State Wolfpack will open at 5:00 p.m. and field box tickets are just $10 for fans, while students from each university will be offered a discounted field box ticket of just $8 by showing a school ID. The Charlotte 49ers are expected to wear their green jerseys and fans are encouraged to come out to BB&T Ballpark dressed in green for a “green-out”. Tickets for this game will go on sale at later date.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Knights to Host the Chicago White Sox in Exhibition Game on April 3

Per team release...

(UPTOWN CHARLOTTE, NC) – After a record-breaking inaugural season at BB&T Ballpark -- the most visited venue in Minor League Baseball in 2014 -- the Charlotte Knights will open the 2015 campaign in Uptown Charlotte with an exhibition game against their parent club, the Chicago White Sox, on Friday, April 3 at 6:05 p.m. Charlotte Knights General Manager of Baseball Operations Scotty Brown, along with White Sox Director of Player Development Nick Capra, made the joint announcement at BB&T Ballpark on Tuesday.

"This is a great way to kick off our second season at BB&T Ballpark," said Knights Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski. "We are very pleased to welcome the Chicago White Sox to Uptown Charlotte. This is an opportunity for our fans to see some former Knights who are now playing for the White Sox and to see a competitive game against our parent club.” 

The White Sox and Knights last faced off in exhibition play at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, SC on April 1, 2010. In all, the Knights and White Sox have played two exhibition games over the course of their 16-year affiliation. The Knights hosted the White Sox during the first season of their affiliation in 1999.

“We are very excited for the Chicago White Sox to travel to Charlotte and help open the second season of BB&T Ballpark, one of the finest facilities in Minor League Baseball,” said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager. “Charlotte is a first class city with a first-class venue and the Knights have served as an outstanding Class AAA affiliate to our major-league club since 1999.  Every spring, we explain to our roster that it takes far more than 25 men for any team to win a championship, and for the White Sox much of that talent comes through Charlotte each summer.”

Since 1999, Chicago has supplied the on-field talent to Charlotte, making it the fourth longest current affiliation agreement in the Triple-A International League behind the Pawtucket Red Sox (1973 first year with Boston), the Toledo Mud Hens (1987 first year with Detroit), and the Durham Bulls (1998 first year with Tampa Bay). The Knights and White Sox extended their affiliation for an additional six seasons on December 10, 2013. The Knights and White Sox partnership will stay intact through the 2020 season.

The Charlotte Knights opened their inaugural season at BB&T Ballpark on Friday, April 11, 2014 to a sell-out crowd of 10,231 fans. It was the first professional baseball game played in Charlotte for the Knights since the final home game of the 1988 season on August 31, 1988. The 2015 exhibition game will be the first time a Major League team will play in the city limits of Charlotte since April 12, 1984 when the Charlotte O’s hosted the Baltimore Orioles.