“It is with great pleasure and respect that we recognize the Peninsula Pilots as our 2014 Organization of the Year,” said CPL Commissioner Justin Sellers. “This honor certainly acknowledges all of the hard work, dedication and tireless efforts of caretaker (and owner) Henry Morgan, Vice President and head coach Hank Morgan, General Manager Jeffrey Scott, as well as all of the Pilots staff members; but also the host families, community leaders and loyal Pilots fans that have added to the overall experience at War Memorial Stadium. The Pilots have done an outstanding job of being a staple in the community on the Peninsula and have been a shining star for the Coastal Plain League; and we are happy to honor them today!”
Peninsula was chosen after collecting surveys from team owners, general managers, head coaches, players, umpires and league officials that had them vote on on every facet of an organization from game-day operations and competitiveness of team to overall hospitality and community involvement. The Pilots received high marks in categories such as game day atmosphere, ballpark aesthetics (including playing surface, lighting, etc.), competitiveness of team, fan involvement, league matters (including WebPass broadcasts, statistics, press releases, etc.), and exhibiting a true, positive, hands-on relationship with the community.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am for everyone involved with Peninsula Pilots Baseball,” said General Manager Jeffrey Scott. “We would not be able to celebrate this honor without the support of our sponsors, fans, and the community here at Peninsula and the hard work and dedication our staff puts forth during the season. Our staff did a tremendous job this season…they created and presented a fun and exciting atmosphere that started from opening day and evolved all the way through the final game of the championship series.”
As Scott mentioned, the fan support for the Pilots was incredible all season and never was that more apparent than during the playoffs. Each round, the Pilots staff and home crowd provided an amazing atmosphere for baseball, all capped off by the 3,698 fans in attendance for game three of the Petitt Cup Championship Series versus Florence.
“The atmosphere they created for our players and coaches was awesome,” said Scott of the fans. “Our sponsors and the City of Hampton help keep our engine running and the community continues to hop on board for the journey. I wish they could accept this award because they deserve it as much as anyone does.”
In total, the Pilots drew over 73,000 fans between the regular season and playoffs this season, good for most in the league. These numbers are a true testament to the organization’s commitment to its fans and the community as a whole; as well as the pure passion and dedication the fans have for their beloved Pilots.
A large reason for this support is Pilots’ caretaker Henry Morgan. He has shown a true dedication to the team and community, never asking, nor wanting the attention on himself. He has twice been nominated for the Daily Press Citizen of the Year award for his efforts, and they are not the only one recognizing all that he has helped build in Peninsula.
“He’s just been an awesome guy,” Pilots pitcher Wes McGuire told the Hampton Daily Press. “He’s not a person who just wants to have people in the seats so that he makes money, it’s so that we have a cool environment to play in…I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else.”
“Each of our fans should know that the energy and atmosphere that they consistently created was felt on the field in a big way and made a huge difference for us,” said Hank Morgan. “Also, on behalf of the team and organization as a whole, I want to thank the best caretaker (owner) around, Henry Morgan, for including us in the Pilots experience, for making it meaningful and one heck-of-a-lot of fun.”
It is this respect that has helped Morgan and his unbelievable staff capture the ever-illusive balance between great entertainment for the fans and great play on the field as a team. Morgan’s son, Hank, and his staff of assistant coaches have built the Pilots into a consistent challenger each year on the field. The Pilots captured their first Petitt Cup Championship last season when they swept Columbia in two games; and then defended their title in 2014 in impressive fashion, finishing the regular season with the league’s best record at 41-15, and a second-half East Division title. This dominance carried over into the playoffs, as they took down the Fayetteville SwampDogs, Wilson Tobs and Florence RedWolves on their way to back-to-back CPL Championships. In doing so, they finished the postseason with the top team ERA (2.51) and the highest team batting average (.297). In addition to these numbers, the Pilots were first in almost every major statistical category during the postseason including runs scored (65), hits (93), doubles (17), triples (4), RBIs (53), inning pitched (79), and strikeouts (74).