Frank Burke, President/GM of the Chattanooga Lookouts, and Marla Terranova Vickers, GM of the Montgomery Biscuits, were honored today by the Southern League for their 2011 accomplishments.
Vickers was named the league’s Woman of Excellence, as voted upon by the league’s general managers. Burke was named Jimmy Bragan Executive of the Year, as voted upon by his peers.
Vickers previously received this award in 2006 and is also the Southern League’s nominee for the Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year Award, which is presented by Minor League Baseball at the Winter Meetings.
General Manager represents a new role for Vickers in 2011, having served in various capacities over her ten years with Professional Sports Marketing, the parent company of the Biscuits. Vickers became only the fourth woman in Minor League Baseball to serve as General Manager, and the only woman at the AA level or higher.
A native of Lansing, Michigan and a graduate of Central Michigan University, Vickers originally began her career in baseball with the Lansing Lugnuts (Low Class A; Midwest League). She is widely referred to as the first Biscuits employee and began her journey in Montgomery in 2003. Arriving long before the team, she worked tirelessly to help prepare Riverwalk Stadium for the 2004 inaugural season.
Vickers has served in a variety of roles with the Biscuits including Director of Sales, Director of Sponsorship & Marketing, and most recently as Assistant General Manager. She resides in Montgomery with her husband, John “Tripp” Vickers, who holds the distinction of having submitted “Biscuits” in the name-the-team contest upon the team’s inception.
In his seventeenth season as Lookouts President and General Manager, Burke earns his second Executive of the Year honor, having won the award in 2001. It is the fourth time a member of Chattanooga’s front office has won the award. With the club’s highest attendance since 2009, it was one of five clubs in the league to increase attendance this season, with AT&T Field hosting 224,974 fans.
In conjunction with Daniel Burke and Charles Eshbach, Frank Burke purchased the rights to the Chattanooga Lookouts franchise in 1995. At this time, Burke immediately became the club’s President and General Manager. For the next four seasons (1995-99), he welcomed fans with new and exciting innovations to Historic Engel Stadium. Burke introduced a smoke-billowing train to celebrate home runs and victories, along with a cannon-firing mascot named “General Admission.” Another staple of Lookouts home games also was introduced in 1995, the famous “Looie the Lookout.” Burke, however, was not satisfied with trains, cannons and mascots. He purchased two live camels, Larry and Lumpy, who wore Lookouts helmets and resided in the deepest part of center field.
In 1999, Burke and his partners announced plans to build a new, privately funded ballpark, located on Hawk Hill in downtown Chattanooga. Burke devoted his attention to all the details of the planning and construction of a new state-of-the-art ballpark that would become AT&T Field.
Burke was named Southern League Executive of the Year in 2001, and the Lookouts were honored by Baseball America the following year with the Double-A Bob Freitas Award, which recognizes long-term franchise success. In 2009, the Lookouts introduced their newest mascot, Blooie: a blue, half-sized Looie doppelganger. Blooie’s leading of the “3.5 inning stretch,” in which he would sing half of “Take Me out to the Ballgame,” was one of Burke’s innovative ideas that led to the Lookouts receiving the Larry MacPhail Award in 2009, which symbolizes the top promotion effort in Minor League Baseball.
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