by Roger Zotti
“We’ve been getting great support from people, and we love being the minor league baseball team for Southeastern, Connecticut,” says C.J. Knudsen, Vice President and General Manager of the Connecticut Tigers. “We encourage everyone, if you haven’t been to a game yet, to come to Dodd Stadium and see how nice it is and help support the hometown Tigers. We have a ton of home games left.” In its third season here, the Connecticut team is the American League Detroit Tigers’ Single-A/New York-Penn League affiliate.
“This season we continue having great promotions,” C.J. adds. “For example, on Mondays kids eat free. If they’re twelve and under, they get a voucher for a hot dog, bag of chips, an apple, and a bottle of water. On Tuesdays it’s Kayem Dollar Hot Dog Night. Friday nights it’s fireworks, which is always a good standby, and Saturdays is our major giveaway night—everything from bobble-head dolls to coffee mugs.”
C.J.’s credentials are impressive. A graduate of Keene State College, he began his career in 1995 as an intern with the NY-PL’s Vermont Expos/Lake Monsters. From 2000 to 2009, he was the team’s General Manager. In 2003 he was the recipient of the NY-PL Executive of the Year Award; in 2006, he received the Robert Julian Community & Baseball Award.
He came to the Tigers organization in 2010, serving as Vice President of Operations. This year he’s the organization’s VP and GM. As for what his new duties entail, he says, “Well, I might be doing an interview with the media one minute and the next I could be filling a ketchup dispenser. I never know what I might be doing, and that’s what makes minor league life so enjoyable.”
When The Resident asked him what he’d consider a successful 2012 season, C.J. remarks, “One thing is definitely an increase in attendance.” Also, there’s the brand of exciting baseball the Tigers plays: “Right now, after a slow start, the team is starting to play well. The players are definitely getting to know each other now. Remember, these guys play 76 games in 80 days, which is a lot of baseball.”
For Jon Versteeg, the team’s Director of Media Relations, a successful season is “continuing to build on the progress we’ve made over the first two years with getting folks real excited about baseball in Norwich. We’ve been doing some great things here, and are always adding new things, like LIFE STAR coming here [July 21], and its crew delivering the first pitch against Lowell. There are so many cool and interesting things we’re doing. So I say stay tuned—the news is always coming out!”
A consistent, positive, and family-friendly philosophy has been and continues to be the organization’s goal since its Connecticut arrival two years ago. “We’re about baseball and, just as importantly, bringing people together,” C.J. says. “Of course, we’ll continue to provide affordable fun and safe entertainment options for families in Connecticut.”
For more information about the Connecticut Tigers, visit www.cttigers.com.