A mainstay in Lynchburg baseball has announced his retirement, as Lynchburg Hillcats (High-A; Carolina League) President and CFO Paul Sunwall is stepping down after 35 years in the front office. He will be replaced by Chris Jones, an experienced executive who most recently served as the general manager of the Sugar Land Skeeters (independent; Atlantic League).
Sunwall became entrenched in Lynchburg’s front office after being hired as the assistant general manager in 1980, when the club was known as the Lynchburg Mets. He filled that role until being promoted to general manager in 1988, starting the beginning of a very long and successful tenure. Sunwall received two Carolina League Executive of the Year awards along the way—one in 1995, and another in 2009. He was promoted to president and CFO in 2014, and is now retiring as the league’s longest-serving front office official.
“I’m very thankful I had the opportunity to work as long I did in this profession,” Sunwall said. “I enjoyed seeing fans, being at the ballpark, and the sport itself. It has been an amazing 35 years.”
Sunwall’s background includes service in the U.S. Air Force from 1968 to 1972. Immediately before getting into baseball, he was the assistant manager of Hills Department Store in Lyncburg.
Jones had worked with Sunwall for several months before transitioning into the job. He took over as the general manager in Sugar Land in 2013, remaining in the position until he was hired by the Elmore Sports Group this fall. Before coming to Sugar Land, Jones had established a successful track record as the vice president and general manager of the Lake Elsinore Storm (High A; California League), winning the league’s Executive of the Year in 2008.
The last several months have marked a period of transition for the Hillcats. In a purchase that was revealed in December, Elmore Sports Group bought the team from long-time owners Lynchburg Baseball Corp. and immediately began working to keep the Hillcats in Lyncburg on a 10-year lease extension. That extension was announced late last month.