The Burlington Royals have been recognized by the Appalachian League, claiming the circuit’s top two prizes. General manager Ryan Keur won executive of the year for the third straight season, while Royals also claimed Promotional Organization of the Year.
Keur’s honor marks the first time in the history of the league that an executive has won the award three years in a row. The Appalachian League awards are voted on by general managers, umpires, and the league office.
The Promotional Organization of the Year is awarded to a team that demonstrates unique marketing ideas, in-game and onfield promotions, and creative work within their community. This year, the Royals received national attention for their “emoji jerseys” — alternate uniform tops covered in the popular text message elements. The jerseys were featured on MLB Network, ESPN, NBC Sports Network and countless blogs. During games, the promotional team engaged with fans through a variety of between-inning games. The team took on a motto of “no jumbotron, no problem,” and introduced unique versions of the “kiss cam” and “hidden ball scramble” to Burlington Athletic Stadium.
“(This award) is a group award and something that is the product of a great staff working together,” said Burlington Royals Vice President Dan Moushon.
The Appalachian League Executive of the Year is awarded to an executive who has made the most valuable contribution to their club or the league as a whole. These contributions can range from community involvement to facility management and upgrades. This past offseason, General Manager Ryan Keur oversaw many improvements to Burlington Athletic Stadium. In 2016, the Royals introduced new elevated bleachers on both sides of the field and added a new 10,000-square foot kids’ zone. Along with those improvements, the Royals’ attendance increased by 10%, charitable contributions were over $25,000, and community appearances reached close to 100 during the 2016 season. In Keur’s five years with the club, attendance has nearly doubled with revenues at an all-time high, tripling in that same time frame. In the past three years, he has worked closely with the City of Burlington to oversee stadium renovations resulting in new stadium seating, new scoreboard, new umpires and visitor’s clubhouses.
“Unprecedented,” Appalachian League President Lee Landers said of Keur’s third straight award. “It is a testament of what he and his staff accomplished and it has much more meaning coming from his peers. This is an organization that has fun together and that was seen throughout the year.”
The awards will be presented at the Appalachian League Fall Meetings. Additionally, the Royals will now have a chance to be awarded two top honors in all of Minor League Baseball. For winning Executive of the Year, Keur is eligible for the John H. Johnson President’s Award. The Royals are also in the running for the Larry MacPhail Award for winning the Promotional Organization of the Year. Those awards will be presented at the annual Baseball Winter Meetings, to be held in National Harbor, Maryland from December 4-8.